Britain witnessing total collapse of the family

BARBARIANS AT THE GATES
Britain’s war on families and its results
Investigate Feb 2009

When commentators question the wisdom of liberal social attitudes, many in the media call them ‘dinosaurs’, and ‘trapped in the past’. But, as HAL G. P. COLEBATCH warns, the chickens are flying home to roost in what could be a major, civilisational threat

To say that Britain has been run for the last decade by people who hate it and its traditional values and who are deliberately and strategically trying to destroy – among many other things – traditional families and family life as part of a programme of culture-war may sound like hyperbolic political rhetoric. However the evidence indicates this is actually no more than a statement of fact. The evidence is also pretty suggestive about who is winning this war.

A survey from The Sunday Times of 30 November, 2008, published under the heading, “Britain on top in casual sex league” claimed: “British men and women are now the most promiscuous of any big western industrial nation, researchers have found … The researchers behind the study say high scores such as Britain’s may be linked to the way society is increasingly willing to accept sexual promiscuity among women as well as men … Britain’s ranking was ascribed to factors such as the decline of religious scruples about extramarital sex, the growth of equal pay and equal rights for women and a highly sexualised popular culture.”

This does not surprise me. Pronounced features of British culture in the last few years have been hedonism spiced with nihilism and a peculiar loss of notions of personal dignity, decorum and modesty. The former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, by way of setting an example to young, announced in her recent memoirs that she and Tony had had sexual relations on their first date. Another survey a little later indicated that, contrary to normal patterns in virtually every society known, girls in Britain now tend to be more sexually promiscuous than boys.

Meanwhile, under progressive and politically-correct influences and the widespread seizure of institutional power by the Gramscian left, government taxation and welfare policies as well as officially-created or officially-condoned cultural pressures seem deliberately structured to destroy marriage and families. This appears directly related to a huge increase in violent youth crime.

Previous Home Secretary Jack Straw assured England that: “we shouldn’t get into a paddy about the decline of formal marriage.” Other kinds of families, he said, “can do just as well for their children.” (Despite the overwhelming evidence that they don’t).

Prince Charles’ charity, the Prince’s Trust, said in 2001 that teenage girls on sink estates admired their peers who had given birth and often sought to copy their status and acquire the free flat which they thought having a baby usually brought. Developments in the years since then have done much to confirm and nothing to refute that statement.

Late in 2008 the case came to light of Karen Matthews, who was convicted of kidnapping her own daughter to obtain a ransom. Writing in the Sunday Times of 7 December, 2008, columnist Harriet Sergeant stated:

Matthews is the mother of seven children by five” [at least] “different men. She has never worked, but lived off benefits of £286.60 a week. The Matthews’ house was filthy. A neighbour declared, ‘I wouldn’t want to keep a pet dog in there, let alone children.’ Her relationships with men were so promiscuous that when police built up a family tree it stretched to 300 names. Karen’s nine-year-old daughter Shannon was regularly drugged to keep her quiet, had feet encrusted with dirt, was infested with head lice and flinched at any sudden noise. Police found a note scribbled by Shannon to her brother: ‘Do you think we will get any tea tonight? If we’re quiet we might get a bag of sweets. Don’t talk too loud or get a beating.’ This was in a family receiving in benefits the equivalent of £20,000 a year before tax. Seven children were going hungry to bed, not because of social deprivation but because their mother could not be bothered to feed them.

The Matthews household is not a one-off. Researching a report on the care system, I met many children from families such as the Matthewses …

Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe and, in 2001, 90% of births to mothers under 20 occurred outside marriages. Two young men from council estates as far apart as Hastings and Newcastle insisted that girls giving birth at 16 or 17 were no longer the exception in their area but the norm ….

Sergeant quotes Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire police, the force responsible for arresting Karen Matthews: “We are talking here about the perverting influence of welfare. The more kids you have, the more money you get.”

This has come after many years of warnings from sources with high credentials. What conclusion can be drawn except that the destruction of the traditional family and the creation of a welfare-dependent underclass has been, at some level, deliberate?

Philip Booth, Editorial and Program Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Insurance and risk Management at the Sir John Cass Business School, has written: “The tax system in the UK impacts on families in a particularly unfortunate way. Two examples are worth noting. If we take a family earning £25,000 with one earner and two children (for example, with the mother working in the home) the family would gain over £2,000 per annum of real income by having both family members going out to work with them each earning £12,500. This arises because child tax credit is awarded on the basis of family income but income tax and National Insurance allowances are personalized. If the same couple split up and lived separately, the tax bill would be unaffected, but benefits would rise dramatically (by several thousand pounds). These illustrations are not dramatic examples of quirks; they are integral parts of the UK tax and benefit system.”

In March, 2000, Cherie Blair, not an elected official with any mandate to make policy, though a part-time judge, claimed that change would be brought about to ensure that of 1.7 million jobs allegedly to be created in the following 11 years, 1.1 million would be filled by women. Not only would men be discriminated against but that would be pressure to force yet more women out of the family and home-making role, thus inevitably adding to the numbers of children brought up without a mother at home – a blow to the maintenance of intact families.

Settling up a government unit to combat teenage pregnancy at the cost of £40 million in 1999 was found by 2004 to have not only useless but apparently counter-productive: teenage pregnancy rates had greatly increased, and some of the worst-hit areas, such as Lambeth in South London, which had been specially targeted for supplying girls with contraceptives and contraceptive information (but not promoting sexual abstinence), had been among the worst areas. Six of the 10 worst areas saw dramatic increases in teenage pregnancies.

In Lambeth, teenage pregnancies had gone from 361 in 1998 to 406 in 2002. There was also a national increase in the levels of sexually transmitted diseases among 16 to 19-year-old of 30% in the same five-year period. Robert Wheeldon of the think-tank Civitas, said: “A number of people have been warning the government since the start of the strategy that it was designed to fail because of its almost complete reliance on … more explicit sex education and easy access to contraception for teenagers. These policies have been pursued for 30 years to no good effect. All attempts to incorporate an element of abstinence education have been treated with contempt by the staff of the Teenage Pregnancy Unit …”

Children’s Minister Margaret Hodge said: “We do not appear to have seen a blip and that did worry me. We don’t know why that happened … We are now focusing on those hot-spot areas with real problems.”

A milestone was passed when it was reported in March 2001 that since 1998 a majority of pregnancies had begun outside marriage. In April, 2002, funding for National Marriage Week was cut off by the Government “as part of a shift towards supporting non-marital relationships.” This was in spite, or perhaps rather because of, the overwhelming evidence that a stable and traditional family life was by far the biggest factor, considerably outweighing even good education, in allowing people to escape from poverty and to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. The political implications seemed obvious: a culture of “non-traditional families” meant a dysfunctional underclass and a proletarianised culture, which was bad news for the Conservatives, the Conservative vote and for the whole milieu of cultural conservatism. It also meant various rationales for the further expansion of State powers and further opportunities for those overwhelmingly Labour client-groups with a vested interest in those powers, for example those in the caring professions.

One commentator, Dr David Worsley, remarked in the British magazine Right Now! of July-September 2002:

“The ill effects of the decline of the nuclear families on children can be studied in numerous publications that emanate from the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, in particular the classic Families without Fatherhood by former Labour councillor Norman Dennis.

“Furthermore these developments do not just affect children, but signify a more general atomization of society. Due to the decline in marriage and the increase in divorce and single-motherhood, the proportion of households that consist of a single man aged 15-44 has quadrupled [in 2002] since 1971, whilst 36.5% of men born in 1964 had never been married by the age of 35, compared to 11.6% of those born in 1946 … a significant proportion of a whole generation of men have never known the civilizing responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood, or are leading solitary lives whilst being fleeced by the Child Support Agency for the maintenance of offspring with whom they seldom spend time.”

Writing in Race Warriors: The Perverse Results of Anti-Racism (New European Publications, London, 2003) Russell Lewis commented that the Council for Racial Equality demeaned British Chinese, who were condemned for their traditional family values and unwillingness to provide employment for the caring professions and race-relations industries by living off welfare benefits. The Chinese respect for education and scholarship was mocked as “you’ll find wealth and beautiful wives in books, so study well,” and Chinese were admonished by the CRE to, in effect, learn from other cultures the virtues of bookless poverty and fragmented families.

On 30 July, 2003, the Bishops of the Church of England issued a paper, “Being Human, a Christian Understanding of Personhood,” which declared that “committed relationships” were as good as marriage and that the sanctity of marriage should be questioned. It praised “committed relationships” rather than marriage as “the right background for sex.” One of the main authors of the report said divorce could have a “redemptive dimension.” Marriage, on the other hand, could shelter abuse and rape, and stifle personal development. This report was made by the Doctrine Commission, authorised by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It was announced in 2003 that £450,000,000 would be spent providing every teenager in Britain with a “Learning Mentor” to give advice on problems, the old-fashioned institution of parents being history. The whole idea of teenagers – particularly, perhaps delinquent teenagers who might actually need a “mentor,” accepting one was from fairyland – and what sort of person would become a “Mentor” anyway? Anyway, little more was heard about the idea, though Roy Kerridge did supply one vignette of a pupil seen with his Mentor telling him to get lost while he consummated a drug deal. The mentor obliged.

In May, 2003, it was reported that, according to the Office for National Statistics, nearly half the children in England and Wales were not being brought up in a traditional family with parents married and living together under the same roof. The figures, taken from the 2001 census, showed 2,672,000 children, nearly one in four, living in one-parent households, mostly headed by the mother. There were also 725,520 living in step-families with a re-married parent and 1,278,455 being brought up by unmarried cohabiting couples. Another 125,834 were recorded as not living with a family. This brought the total to 4,801,695, or more than 41% of children under 18. The proportion actually increased as children got younger, ranging from 43.4% of under-twos to 38.2% of 16-year-olds. Figures released in January, 2004, showed the number of marriages in Britain had fallen to fewer than 300,000 a year, the lowest number since records began more than 50 years ago. There had been 408,000 weddings in 1950, 480,000 in the peak year of 1972, and, following a steady downward trend, 286,000 in 1972.

In 2008 Care, a Christian charity, concluded that single people with no children did far better financially than families. Britain was almost alone in failing to reward couples for staying together. In other OECD countries, the tax paid by one-earner married couples on average wages was around 50% of that paid by a single person on the same income. However in Britain the figure was 75%, even with tax credits and child benefit taken into account. The Care study, by former Inland Revenue consultants Don Draper and Leonard Beighton, said: “Among highly developed economies, the UK is almost alone in operating a tax system that ignores spousal obligations.” Jill Kirby, of the Centre for Policy Studies, calculated that an average couple on single income with a mortgage and two children paid £7,600 a year more in tax than they got in benefits. If they broke up, however, the two households would receive £400 more in benefits than they paid in tax.

Not surprisingly, another survey found that married couples were no longer regarded as the social norm. Schools were reportedly ordered to drop the term “mum and dad” in case it offended pupils.

The term “normal couple” was among terms banned – and its use was a sacking or expelling offence – for staff and students at Stockport College, Greater Manchester (“Lady” and Gentleman” were also on the list of terms banned there, despite the fact that economist Alfred Marshall, a hero of Old Labour, had seen one of Labour’s goals as making “every man a gentleman.”). The government, of course, could have put a stop to this at once if it had wished, and it is only possible to conclude that it condoned it – (and where, for that matter, were the Opposition to object?)

Columnist Richard Littlejohn wrote in 2008: “Only last week it was revealed that sex education in schools is under the command of Chris Bryant MP, last seen performing a ‘sex act’ on himself in a Soho nightclub and posing in grubby underpants on the internet in a sordid attempt to attract men to have sex with him. But where’s the outrage? Bryant’s plans to spend £150 million teaching nine-year-olds about ‘alternative lifestyles’ and how to roll condoms onto bananas barely raised an eyebrow at Westminster. Even when there is a fuss in the papers, ministers simply ride it out and the circus moves on. … Whoever thought we’d live in a country where the notion of a child having both a ‘mum and dad’ could possibly be considered offensive?”

At a speech in Brighton in April, 2008, Family Division judge Mr Justice Coleridge, one of the most senior Family Law judges, said: “In some areas of the country, even including the more urban parts of the sleepy west in which I operate, family life in the old sense no longer exists …I suggest the general collapse of ordinary family life, because of the breakdown of families, in this country is on a scale, depth and breadth which few of us could have imagined even a decade ago.”

In July, 2008, it was reported from the Office of National Statistics that married adults had become a minority for the first time since records began to be kept. In 1995 married couples had made up 56.2% of the population. This had declined to 50.3% in 2005, and to less than 50% in 2006. Shortly after this it was revealed that a majority of British babies were now born out of wedlock, though the proportion among immigrants remained a tiny minority. One member of the underclass thrust into media prominence explained that she referred to as, and regarded as, “twins” those of her children who had the same father. This was apparently widespread. It is typical of the style of this grotesque, semi-dysfunctional, but also deeply sinister government that it should have used the concept of “family friendly” to justify one particular and destructive set of reforms: it stopped the ancient practice of Parliamentary debates going on late into the might, allegedly to allow Members of Parliament to spend more time with their families, but in actual fact to hamstring probing and criticism of what the government was doing.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph in December, 2008, Ian Duncan Smith MP, former leader of the Conservative Party and Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice, wrote:

“Britain is witnessing a growth in an underclass whose lifestyles affect everyone. Perhaps the reason why most people haven’t been aware of the extent of this is because housing policy has, over 20 to 30 years, ghettoised many of these dysfunctional families. In the Seventies, only 11% of households on the [public housing] estates weren’t working; today barely a third of working-age tenants have full-time work. Less than 15% are headed by a couple with children. Two-thirds are occupied by lone parents, lone men or lone women.

“On such estates, few children see a positive father figure, with young men having children by different mothers, with the state covering the cost …[L]look at the background of those who as young offenders end up in custody. Over three-quarters of them are from broken homes, just under half of them experienced violence in the home and half of them have educational levels below an 11-year-old.

“Girls suffer too. Many have grown up in dysfunctional families where their mothers had children as teenagers and they have shared the house with a string of ‘guesting fathers.’ Too many will repeat the lives of their mothers.

“Families like this are much more at risk of abuse than any other. Recent NSPCC research has shown that a child growing in such a family structure is up to six times more likely to suffer abuse, which is why the social services are under growing pressure …

“Over the past ten years the cost of policing has risen by 40 per cent, prisons and the courts by 46%, youth justice by 45% and working-age benefits by 25%.”

The type of society this has created has been demonstrated by countless events. One of the most graphic illustrations was perhaps the case of a father of five, Colin Greenwood, aged 45. Mr Greenwood was registered blind but refused to carry a white stick because he had been attacked before and feared it would attract the attention of feral children and teenagers. There are probably people in every society who would single out a blind man and regard a white stick as an invitation to attack, but I know of no other society where this would be regarded as more or less normal and to be expected, rather than the behaviour of rare, exceptionally depraved psychopaths. Anyway, in Mr Greenwood’s case his precaution did not avail him. White stick or not, he was kicked to death by teenagers while waiting at a bus-stop at night.

Among other such incidents, five hoodies aged 12 to 14 stoned a 67-year-old father to death as he played cricket on a Sunday were jailed for about 12 months with remissions. Ernest Norton was sworn and spat at, then stoned by the boys – in a gang of about 20 – as he played cricket in a park with his son James. Two stones, one the size of a half brick, struck him on the temple and fractured his cheekbone.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that youths formed gangs to “fend off unfriendly adults.” A stream of newspaper reports showed how effective this fending off of unfriendly adults could be. On 18 April, 2008, three youths aged 16, 19 and 21 were sentenced for having kicked to death an unfriendly adult, 47-year-old father of three Mark Witherall, who had caught them burgling his house. After the fending off they completed the burglary, leaving Mr Witherall dying – he survived five weeks on a life-support machine.

Less than a week later the killers of a 55-year-old ex-soldier, Stephen Green, were reported sentenced. Green had been beaten to death by a gang of drugged and drunken teenagers, all but one of whom were on bail or serving community punishments for violent robberies. Green was kicked, stamped on and battered with a large stick by the gang, who wanted money to buy more alcohol and cannabis. He lasted nine days in hospital before dying. His rucksack, which contained £5.65 in change, was found discarded near the scene of the attack with the money still inside. At the same time the trial was continuing of boys aged 13 and 16 who were alleged to have beaten in the face of a 24-year-old mother of two, raped her, and thrown her into a river, where her dead body was found two days later. However, strictly speaking, it is doubtful if this could be called fending off an unfriendly adult.

Susan Collins, aged 60, had her face caved in and was put on life support after she was fended off by being kicked to the ground and repeatedly stamped on by Nicholas Hague, 22, when she would not give him a cigarette. Hague had been freed early from jail for manslaughter. After his arrest he claimed to police: “She’s just an old cow.” Susan Collins was left with her face separated from the middle of her skull. Surgeons used four metal plates to reconstruct her face and she lost the sight in one eye. She said of her injuries: “I didn’t want to look at myself.” She was still in a wheelchair when Hague was sentenced. Hague had received an 18 month jail term in 2005 after admitting helping kick a man to death in Warrington, Cheshire, in 2004. He had been freed shortly afterwards due to time spent on remand.

Garry Newlove, a father of three, was also fended off by being kicked and beaten to death by three teenagers outside his house after he had shown his unfriendliness by objecting to them vandalizing his wife’s car. They were convicted of the crime in January, 2008 amid revelations that the gang leader and repeat violent offender Adam Swellings, 18 at the time, had been freed on bail only hours before the killing.

Arguably less fortunate in being fended off than Messrs Greenwood, Witherall, Green, Newlove et al was Christopher Ingrouille, a husband and father of two, who was set upon by three teenage youths and kicked in the head 32 times. Earlier he had rebuked them for swearing at his children. He had returned to the scene, near his home, to pick up some broken glass they had left, where they were waiting for him, and offered to shake hands. His brain was virtually destroyed. Six years later, it was reported:

Today, he cannot even recognise Marion as his wife when she visits regularly to cut his hair or put up a new family picture in his room. He is fed raspberry-coloured medicine, with liquid nourishment and water through a plastic stomach tube. Doubly incontinent, every morning his rag-doll body is lifted from bed to wheelchair by nurses using a large hoist. Occasionally, he screams out in pain as if the feeding tubes are hurting his stomach. He cannot speak or communicate, and when he becomes agitated he spits at visitors, including his own sons.

This particular story gets worse. Much worse. An ex-policewoman, Julie Pickford, a 47-year-old mother of two, was fended off by being kicked unconscious and thrown off a train, and suffered suspected kidney damage and a fractured eye-socket as well as other injuries. She had asked one of a gang of 30-drunken teenagers on a train near Sale, greater Manchester, to stop throwing pop-corn at other passengers. It will be noted that most of these reports were gathered over only a few days. They are a small sample only. Minette Marrin wrote in the Sunday Times of 17 April, 2008:

Consider just last week’s news. On Tuesday three teenagers in Leeds kicked and punched Paul Heppner into unconsciousness because he refused to buy them cigarettes. A dog walker in Milton Keynes was stabbed in the back, stomach and chest by five people. Last Sunday a man in Manchester was violently attacked by eight hooded teenagers for no reason and has narrowly escaped brain damage.

Meanwhile, a girl of 15 was convicted of aiding and abetting manslaughter; she is the drunken teenager who filmed a man in Keighley being fatally kicked to death in an unprovoked “happy slapping” attack; she showed the sequence to friends afterwards for a laugh.

Also shocking, in a similar way, was the attack by vandals last week – for the fourth time – on the Stephen Lawrence Centre, built in his memory. The vandals are aggressively proud of their mindless brutality. They are moral morons.

In August last year, when 11-year-old Rhys Jones was casually shot to death in Croxteth, I wrote about the betrayal of this country’s children, by this country’s adults. I was accused, as usual, of hysterical exaggeration …

Young people in the urban jungle live in terror of other young people and in despair of protection from adults. They carry knives because they are afraid, not least on their way to school. When they get to school they are still afraid because adults in such places do not protect them from bullying. Many of them are also bored out of their minds into delinquency. The police cannot protect them from gangs, either; there is often no alternative to the comparative safety of gang life.

Recent figures are frightening. Violent crime by children under 18 rose by more than a third between 2003 and 2006. Knife crime among children between 10 and 17 has soared; the figures of those convicted of carrying a ”bladed weapon” has almost trebled from 482 in 1997 to 1,265 in 2006.

What is worse is that more than three-quarters of knife crime is committed by 12 to 20-year-olds. Almost 1,300 teenagers were injured in shootings, muggings, stabbings, knifepoint robberies and rapes in London between April and November last year. Also in 2007, between April and June, countrywide there were 55 murders, 1,359 serious woundings (2,000 stabbings) and 2,457 street robberies, all knife crimes, equating to a serious knife crime every 24 minutes.

In a December, 2008, Christmas story, John Vry, a 55-year-old father of three suffering from terminal cancer and given only months to live, was beaten to death in the street near his home in Lowestoft as he prepared to spend a last Christmas with his family. He had apparently gone out to buy a packet of cigars. He was still alive when found and taken to hospital but died the following day. “My dad briefly regained consciousness and squeezed my brother’s hand, but he didn’t wake up after that,” his daughter Wendy said. A 22-year-old and a 16-year-old were charged with the killing, while a 23-year-old was reported released on bail.

Statistics show that while fatal shootings and stabbings have increased by about 25% since the election of the Labour government in 1997, they also show the number of people beaten to death each year has risen much faster, increasing by 57% since 1998. Another string of reports tell of people arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned because they have tried to defend themselves against attacks by feral teenagers. Incredible as it may seem, it was reported in the Sunday Telegraph on 30 July, 2006, that passengers who complained three times about the behaviour of menacing or violent youths on trains, if not attacked at once in retaliation, can be reported by their victims and charged with harassment themselves.

A different indicator of social pathology was that by 2002 syphilis had returned to 1940s levels. Two years later it was reported that cases of sexually transmitted diseases had jumped in eight years, predominantly among young people. Between 1995 and 2003, according to an official report of the Health Protection Agency, cases of chlamydia rose from 30,794 to 89,818, cases of syphilis from 136 to 1,575 and gonorrhoea from 10,186 to 24,309. Women aged 16 to 24, who made up 17% of the population, accounted for 72% of chlamydia cases. Sexually transmitted diseases reported for 2003 totalled 708,083, cases, an increase of 57% since 1995.

A survey published in May, 2001, indicated 400,000 British school-children under the age of 16 were using hard drugs. Deaths among children from drugs multiplied about four times in four years. A survey of European children by various government authorities reported in February, 2001, that British children had by far the highest rate of drug-taking in Europe for drugs apart from cannabis, and the highest rate for drunkenness except for Denmark. Russia, a by-word for dangerous, drunken chaos, had a rate of teenage drunkenness just over a third of that of Britain, and France, where children were frequently given wine from childhood, a rate of just under one seventh (the survey looked at 15 and 16 year-olds who had been drunk more than 20 times in their lives. The percentages were Britain: 29%, Russia, 10%, France 4%).

Apparently in order to raise the rate of teenage drunkenness and associated crime and under-age sexual behaviour higher, round-the-clock drinking was instituted by the authorities in 2005. This policy succeeded. By early 2008 the number of drunker under-16-year-olds taken to hospital casualty wards multiplied. Liverpool’s Alder Hay children’s hospital; showed a rise of 242% to in early 2008. Most, according to the press, “were aged around 13 and were taken in by friends after downing vodka and passing out.” Alcohol-related admissions of children and adults increased widely – generally by about 25% – but doubled in many cases. A report from the World Health Organisation and the University of Edinburgh in June 2008 showed that English schoolchildren were among the most likely in the Western world to have drunk alcohol in the past week, to have taken cannabis and to have had underage sex. The findings were based on interviews with 240,000 children in Europe and North America aged 11 to 15. Author Frederick Forsyth wrote of the epidemic of binge-drinking:

Today, entire city centres are awash with torrents of staggering, puking, urinating, swearing young people. Why? I will hazard an explanation. I have noticed one common denominator among the drink-to-get-plastered category of drinker. It is a complete lack of any sense of self-worth …they have enough gut feeling to be convinced they belong to a hopeless, what’s-the-point population …

Another recent survey, from late 2008, suggested a vast increase in loneliness since even the 1970s. Another report at the end of 2008 stated:

“Analysis of official data shows that many more people live in isolated existences than in previous generations, as the old ties of family, work and community life are severed. Far more people live alone, are single and are more fearful of their communities than they were more than three decades ago.” (Dr Worsley stated in the 2002 article that the suicide rate for men aged 25-44 had then almost doubled since 1971). By contrast, a survey in 2003 of 7,000 Israelis indicated that they were among the happiest people in the world, despite being the victims of a continuous terror-bombing campaign and despite being surrounded by enemies sworn to their annihilation. According to this survey, some 83% of Israelis were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives, and a majority expected things to improve, a figure comparable to that in placid, secure and prosperous Canada. It was suggested that a large factor in this was that Israeli traditions encouraged family life – 99% had families, and 94% said their relations with their families were good. Indeed, the smallness of the country made all Israelis in a sense feel part of a family.

This sort of finding may perhaps be dismissed as “soft” – it is hard to know how loneliness is to be accurately measured.
Yet another set of statistics from the end of 2008, however, is rather more definite: more pensioners die of the cold in Britain than in any other country in Europe. Official figures revealed 25,000 such deaths last winter. Pensioners in colder countries such as Finland, Austria or Denmark are more likely to stay alive and healthy through the winter than Britons. Possibly they have families to care for them.

Baroness Warnock, Britain’s leading medical ethics expert and chairman of innumerable committees on such subjects, suggested a little while before that the frail and elderly should consider suicide rather than become a financial burden on their families and society. Warnock also said the parents of premature babies should be charged to keep them on life-support machines if doctors wrote off their chances of leading a healthy life, phrasing it delicately as “Okay, they can stay alive but the family will have to pay for it.”

Hal Colebatch’s Blair’s Britain was selected as a Book of the Year in the London Spectator in 1999. He is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator Online, and other publications. This is his first contribution to Investigate.

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