Selective seeing.

There is plenty horrendous about the recent Edlington case, in which two boys were responsible for a horrific assault on two young friends. The nature of the attack: its violence, its duration, its actors, create a grotesque account of terrible inhumanity. There is much in this we should reflect on and consider in acknowledging and responding to what has happened.

Horrendous too, however, was the ripe political opportunism of David Cameron, our fresh-faced educationist with always something to teach and someone to lecture, on the latest instalment of ‘Broken Britain’. It’s difficult to know whether incidents such as these are greeted with dismay or delight in the echelons of a politics which has forgotten decency and solidarity in the face of tragedy. Barely could you say ‘public enquiry’ before the Daily Mailesque stream of bile, judgment and omniscience poured down upon us.

Whether it is a call to publish children’s names (accompanied presumably by outcry from the same people when renaming them costs an additional £X for the taxpayer ten years down the line), the demand for longer sentences (appropriated by misguiding headlines on the ‘could be out in’ line) or simply the cowardice of politicians and press alike to face up to the complete failure of retributive justice and take a step into the restorative (un)known, the whole scenario read like a hysterical Jan Moir editorial.

And to top it all off, Mr Cameron had the po-faced cheek to preach, apparently without irony, that this is proof of a ‘social recession’ evidenced by four cases (Baby Peter, Damilola Taylor, Jamie Bulger and Edlington) in the last 17 years. Incidentally, he may be right, but this is nothing to do with his grasp of social studies and everything to do with his fixation on the Broken Britain brand. Was a single person surprised when barely a fortnight later shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has been found fiddling statistics which he alleged show a ‘big rise in violent crime during Labour’s time in government’, when in fact the British Crime Survey, drawing on data collected from 46,000 people annually, evidences a 49% fall in violent crime since 1995?

There is no doubt that Britain today faces challenges, as does every society, in every era, under every administration. There is no suggesting that this should not be accepted and addressed by politicians. However, to seize on tragedy in such a tactless and voracious manner, to overlook a party legacy moulded by the mantra of ‘no such thing as society’ and to fail to acknowledge the inherent wrongness, if not deliberate deception, of such an approach, is unacceptable.

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