I have read all these posts carefully and, as would be expected, people have retreated to their political camps, battened down the hatches to try to ward off the invaders with lots of screaming and jangling of weapons. It is remarkable in a country, where the political differences between left and right wing parties are so minimal as they are today, that there is so much tribalism in the politics of the population. I feel that it is this very entrenchment that has got this country into the mess we're in today, where major decisions are not taken on the basis of what is 'the best' for the country on balance, but for the sake of political points scoring. A small but very significant example is the removal of the western congestion charge extension by Boris Johnson shortly after he was elected as Mayor. Admittedly, there were good reasons to remove the extension, but an enormous sum of money had been expended on installing it under Ken Livingstone and in view of the investment, it may have been prudent to wait a while and see how it beds in before consigning all this technology to the dustbin and paying huge sums of money to private contractors for breaking their contracts, when they had a contractual expectation to earn X sums for however many years they had been awarded the concession. The whole sorry saga is a direct example of government waste, and does not relate to the 'size' or 'inherent' inefficiency of the organisation but the mentality that lies behind its management.
Calling for higher taxes in the UK is a futile exercise whilst we are as badly run as we are today. The UK public sector is fundamentally a bankrupt business due to mismanagement calling for additional funds from the banks or shareholders to stay afloat, when in the business world it is survival of the fittest. We experienced meteoric tax rises under the previous Labour government leading to hugely increased expenditure on public services and took our tax burden to that of our western European brethren, yet we still experience significantly poorer services than they do. There was an enormous expansion in managerial or consulting roles, in a desperate attempt to bring order to the chaos, and the bloated budgets were ruthlessly exploited by the private sector for whom the government cash was a bonanza on a level they could never imagine. Why? I believe the roots to all this lie in the politics of the post-war, when Europe was swept with a wave of liberal, left-wing sentiment that served as the foundations for the relatively successful social democracies they are today. The left wing made a huge balls of up its term in the UK and the country's electorate responded with Thatcherism, that saw the public sector as the enemy and private enterprise as the beacon of progress. They trashed the public sector as a place to work, cut back massively on the state's involvement in the provision of services and created an aparthied between public and private sector that to this day stands. Successful kids don't want to work for the public sector because it's seen as 'second grade', full of 'non-jobs' and 'low-paid', although ironically the latter statement is no longer true due to public sector salary inflation over the past 15 years and the contraction in the private sector due to the recession. The private sector creamed off the best people whilst the public sector was a collecting house for second grade staff or people with a social conscience (or sufficient private wealth) that would accept the poorer working conditions and lack of social status.
For decades the UK has been progressing upon the path leading to the US free market model, whilst trying to keep a foot in the pool that is the European welfare state. The UK today has ended up as a jack of all trades and master of none, where our taxes are relatively high by global comparison and free enterprise complains of being shackled by high costs and burdensome bureaucracy, combined with a poor quality public sector spending this tax money and trying to offer the full gamut of services that our European brethren do, but due to the sheer burden the welfare state experiences, isn't capable of adequately providing a decent safety net to people in need. Our pensions are the very worst in the EU compared to average salaries (this includes figures from eastern European countries that recently joined), unemployment benefit is a paltry £56 a week, very soon housing benefit in the south of England will be incapable of putting a habitable roof over people's heads. Comparisons with Scandinavia are non-sensical for an array of reasons, and taxing the population to the degree that they are taxed there will not turn Bristol into Stockholm, anymore than if I start training 6 hours a day now, I won't be in with a hope of winning the 400m finals at the Olympics. Scandinavian populations are not 'tribalised' to any degree, they are very homogenous, both in mentality and ethnicity, the population generally wants the same thing, at the same time and have the same opinion how to go about it. They dress the same, eat the same things and drive the same cars. They have signed up to a society that taxes salaries highly but understands that their high quality public sector will provide high quality public services in return, without allowing the profiteering of private enterprise to drive down the return they see on an invested Kronor. In many European countries, working for the public sector is a top quality career choice with job security, good salaries, pensions and excellent working conditions. In the UK it is the polar opposite and has been seen and is, in practice, a second grade employer to work for. A lower tax economy has created an acquisitive one where property is seen as an investment vehicle. Initially relatively high levels of disposable income, combined with no controls on the acquisition of property has turned the nation into a collection of greedy feudal landowners that seek to profit from bricks and mortar. Prior to 2007, the key difference between the property haves and have-nots appeared to be who was willing to tell the biggest lies about their fictitious income on a self certification form. By definition, the moral types have ended up without a home due to spiralling property prices whilst the spivs now have 10 flats to their name that they are renting out for ever greater sums in a markets with no supply, no price reductions and where people unable to get a mortgage (the majority) are turning to renting. Course, it could have easily gone the other way, where collapsing prices lead to deflating rents and people would be unable to subsidise the mortgages on 10 flats at at time when rents are decreasing, leading to ever greater quantities of flats coming onto the market, feeding the downward spiral. To stop this calamity, the UK cut interest rates to 0.5% to prop up this farcical bubble and resolutely refuse to raise them, despite consumer credit costing double figures and inflation running at nearly 5%. This act also trashes the value of our currency as our government bonds became worth much less due to paltry returns. Savers are sacrificed at the alter to keep the spivs in curry and stop the theoretical value of your house declining, for fear of retribution from a stupid electorate who cannot see that this would be a good thing. 50% tax rates on the working population would impoverish most of the country whilst house prices and rents are as high as they are. People are already struggling to survive in a country that successive governments have created.
Another aspect of the UK public sector is that it became a collecting house for the left-wing, who saw themselves as defeated and marginalised during the Thatcher era. The public sector served as a perfect trojan horse from which to mount an attack on the 'forces of Conservatism' whilst sitting in town halls, local education authorities, local transport departments, et al. They were motivated by vicious dogma and have consistently ignored public opinion to deliberately attempt to get up the noses of the right wing, whatever stupidty or damage that may entail.
Nobody can do anything other than condemn absolutely the violence we have witnessed, only a few crackpot extreme left types have had the balls to stand in front of a tv camera and do otherwise and they have rightly been shouted down by the population. Trying to understand the causes behind the orgy is not making excuses or taking away the weight of the condemnation. If something happens, we need to understand the root cause why, we cannot just say that it's outrageous and hope that it never happens again. Sure, keeping police on every street corner in London is a solution of sorts, but if we don't deal with the underlying causes it is only a matter of time before the weight of people willing to pillage and smash their way around London is so large they'll overwhelm those 16,000 police officers as well. The 6,000 we had on the first night, should theoretically have been more than adequate to stop some hundreds of teenagers running amok. They weren't, and 16,000 wouldn't have been because they were told to stand back, let chaos reign and that they would be arrested later. We can't be conlusive because the Met will never tell us, but we can reasonably suspect that they were light touch because of the ethnicity and youth of the people involved. The Met didn't want the death of another black teenager on their hands, they knew what the inevitable consequences would be and they thought it's better that half of London is destroyed than fear triggering another public inquiry in police tactics. The corrosive politically correct dogma that has tied the hands of the police force has resulted in this outrageous explosion of violence. This was the night when the tenets of multiculturalism ceased to have any further validity and if liberals are upset at the outpouring of right wing bile that has accompanied the sweep up operation, they only have themselves to blame for stretching the limits of people's tolerance and believing in an 'Emperor's new clothes' approach to race relations and policing in the first place. The huge danger we face now is that because we are such a diverse country, the less intelligent members of respective ethnic factions could descend into all out warfare on the streets, as individually ethnic minority groups are not small in number. The largest of these factions, the uneducated white trailer park contingent are potentially the most dangerous as they now feel empowered to seek retribution and take back the streets.
To quell the overheating reactor, we need to have a mature debate about race relations without resorting to slanging matches about racism. I'll spell it out in black and white, no pun intended. The country does have a problem with black teenagers in inner city areas. Urban black culture, imported untranslated from the US is a massively corrosive one and accents on violence, the acquisition of fast wealth, 'bitches and Bentleys'. It is hugely influential in how these kids talk, dress, behave and their self image vs. the rest of society that it seen as the enemy. Education, work, leading to future success is not in the urban dictionary for these kids, and it is not entirely their fault when they have been allowed to become immersed in this crap without any guidance from their parents or guardians. In turning themselves into an alternative tribe, they have marginalised themselves and turned themselves into social pariahs that people are actively afraid of. The police and society doesn't give them any respect because they are not trying to earn it, rather they want to engender fear and menace to take revenge on a society that they percieve that has wronged them. The UK's diversity conveniently provides examples of other ethnic groups that are not influenced in any way by a vengeful attitude, by and large the country doesn't experience problems from Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Turkish or eastern European immigrant groups. Where there are isolated cases, it is down to a lack of individual morals and education, not that of large portions of an enthnic group. In fact, statistics show us that many immigrant groups achieve better results at school and have higher per capita average incomes than the indigenous British population. I believe the UK is mature enough and enough good work has been done for race relations over the past 30 years to have a mature debate. A professional black man in a smartly cut suit travelling on London Underground will experience no racism, only collegiate behaviour. When I see such a man, I feel very warm inside and admire his strength of character to have broken out of the young black model and in doing so he can achieve great success, as fundamentally society as a whole is benevolent and is seeking to help such guys and girls, where the opportunity presents itself. Sadly, most of the time it doesn't and nobody wants to employ any kid, of any colour, who talks 'street' and whose whole get up and appearance would chase away their customers.
France and Germany have high levels of ethnic minority immigration, countries like Sweden and Austria, relative to the size of their population have larger groups than the UK! The big difference in all these places is that there is one creed, that of the nation you are living in. France welcomes immigrants and challenges racism, but they are immensely proud of their history, lifestyle, cuisine, actually just 'being French', and they expect immigrants to sign up to the same social contract and come join the party, not willingly want to turn their back on the society where they live and attempt to exist in a parallel universe. The United Kingdom has lost its sense of identity as a whole. We no longer know what we are, where we came from or where we're going and only some serious national soul searching will put us back on the track. The UK has a great and noble history (as well as some less proud moments of course), it is the world's oldest democracy, it is a beacon of culture for the world, there is little finer than visiting parts of the British countryside when looking for pretty scenery, beautiful stately homes and inns that were serving warm beer 500 years ago :) We have beautiful towns, art collections and institutions of great heritage and wisdom. The UK could have a very clear identity that we could all subscribe to, yet we retreat into tribes with our own social codes and identity and actively disapprove of being 'British' for fear of this looking 'nationalistic'. Multiculturalism has emphasised difference and pushed people apart, it has sidelined the indigenous culture which could be the only glue that bonds us together, and is turning tribe against tribe with potentially horrifying results. Why the hell can't we all stand under the same flag and be friends?!