Newland essentially accuses Tony Blair and the Labour party of moving us into this current state of "rot"; Newland breathlessly writes:
- UNICEF this year ranked Britain bottom in the league of industrialized nations in terms of the well-being of children. This is a startling fact, given that child welfare has been one of Gordon Brown's chief preoccupations throughout his 10 years at the Treasury.
- Labour has also failed to meet its own targets on the reduction of child poverty, and this despite the extra billions in welfare targeted at parents and carers.
- Britain also has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe, the highest proportion of single mothers, and one of the highest divorce rates.
- Britain ranks top, with France, in western Europe in terms of sexually transmitted disease. It has the highest obesity rate in Europe, with nearly a quarter of inhabitants classified as obese.
- Britain has one of the highest rates of alcohol abuse in Europe, with a quarter of Britons indulging in the sort of binge drinking that every weekend transforms cities and market towns into Hogarthian hellholes.
- Britain also heads Europe in terms of drug abuse. Cocaine use is highest in the United Kingdom, and use among secondary school pupils has doubled in the last year.
- Along with Ireland and Holland, Britain has the highest crime rate in Europe. London has a higher violent crime rate than any other city in the European Union, higher than in Istanbul and New York City.
While a lot of these "statistics" might be true (Newland conviently does not site any references), it should be noted that England never was, to paraphrase Sinéad O'Connor, the mythical land of Madame George and roses. Perhaps during the Victorian era, when sexuality and livelihoods were suppressed, England resembled the pastoral image of high tea and crumpets that some so desperately cling to. England, from what I gather, has ALWAYS been dirty, drunk and classist. Did I read from a different high school history text book when I learned that the middle ages were nothing but drunken sex and the creation of the House of Lords?
Britain is a nation - once an Empire - in love with its own Britishness and in that sense, i am reminded of Canada. Canadians constantly try to define what it is to be Canadian - which, in itself, is SO Canadian. And yet, in another instance we accuse homegrown productions or books of being "too Canadian", which is meant to be an insult of course. In fact, just the other day the Prime-Minister-To-Be, Gordon Brown, suggested the creation of a "National Britain Day" to celebrate "Britishness" and to unite communities. i guess it would sort of be like Canada Day, which would be cool, really, because it's just a day to watch fireworks and have a BBQ (and drink, of course).
It should also be noted that the author of the article, Martin Newland, was once editor of Canada's right wing paper (National Post), is a devout Roman Catholic, and has been reported to have applied to the Conservative Party to join their candidate list for the next General Election. 'Nuff said.