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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, February 11, 2008
    Thatcher's grandchildren
     
    I don't know these lads personally, [those who hang around Scargreen Avenue, Norris Green, suspects in the Rhys Jones case] but I meet plenty of them at the football. They act tough – they are tough – but so much of that posturing is integral to a lifestyle that has chosen them. Theirs is the first generation of kids born to Thatcher's Other Children. Much was made of her creation of a generation of youthful millionaires, but her government's accent on the individual to the detriment of the community meant that the close-knit spirit of areas like Norris Green was gradually, if not systematically, eroded. Young men and women who traditionally would have found apprenticeships from Merseyside's huge shipping and manufacturing base found those industries de-nationalised, de-unionised and fighting for survival. Between May 1979 and the next general election in June 1983, unemployment rose from 1.4 million to more than three million – the majority of new claimants aged between 16 and 24. Whereas once, there was one bad family in an entire community, whole tribes of school leavers were turning to drugs to fight boredom, and crime to feed the habit. These same kids are the parents of today's teen gangs. If it is the case that parents like these care little what their children are up to, then it's equally the case that they stopped caring about themselves some time ago.
    - Kevin Sampson, Independent, August 2007, quoted in Robert's letter (see yesterday's blog)