The UK has had well over a decade of social engineering and Political Correctness at the hand of the socialists. Could the lack of fathers in the lives of their children, aided and abetted by the judiciary, not enforcing contact orders have any bearing. Before Canadians get self righteous just look at Vancouver. We are heading there but have time to stop.MJM
Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesA drinker outside a British pub. Binge drinking, public violence and a feeling of cultural angst is plaguing Britain's youth.
Something is rotten in Britain. Young men are stabbing each other to death at an unprecedented rate, the centres of many towns are no-go areas on weekends as drunks spill out of bars and terrorize passersby, and Britons are obsessed with celebrities such as Jade Goody, whose funeral last weekend led to scenes reminiscent of the death of Princess Diana.
In a recent article, British talk show host Michael Parkinson heaped scathing criticism on Ms. Goody, calling her "all that's paltry and wretched about Britain."
Brought up by drug-addicted parents in a poor neighbourhood of London, she was transformed by the glare of reality television into a multi-million-dollar product whom the public was urged to celebrate, especially after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, Mr. Parkinson noted.
"Jade Goody has her own place in the history of television and, while it's significant, it's nothing to be proud of," he wrote in the Radio Times.
"When we clear the media smokescreen from around her death what we're left with is a woman who came to represent all that's paltry and wretched about Britain today. She was ... barely educated, ignorant and puerile. Then she was projected to celebrity by Big Brother and from that point on became a media chattel to be manipulated and exploited till the day she died."
What made Ms. Goody stand out in her reality-TV appearances was her shocking ignorance of her country's geography, her naked and drunken exploits and her racist bullying of an Indian housemate.
But she is not the only sign something has gone awry.
Over the past 25 years, an incredible decline in unity has become evident in everything, from rioting at soccer games to the "alien nation" characterized by high numbers of immigrants in some areas, said Ninian Mellamphy, professor emeritus of English at the University of Western Ontario.
"It looks as if the whole nation has, to a greater sense, kind of lost its moral focus," he added, noting this may reflect resentment at a loss of status resulting from the dissolution of the British Empire.
"[It took away] a kind of self-respect that had to do with British power and perhaps British arrogance, and so you have an arrogance now that has no relationship with power."
Last year, Ray Winstone, an actor known for tough-guy roles, threatened to leave, saying Britain had "gone to the dogs" and citing increasingly lawless behaviour among youths. "We're a mess. And do I really want to live in this mess any more? I feel bad saying it, but I'm just not sure."
In Mr. Mellamphy's eyes, the spiritual malaise gripping modern Britain has created something of a "moral vacuum" that feeds off itself.
Last week, two brothers, aged 10 and 11, were accused of attempting to murder two other boys, who claimed they were robbed and beaten in a wooded area in northern England. The accused, who had recently been placed in foster care, became some of the youngest people ever charged with such a serious crime in Britain.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office called the crime a "disturbing but singular event" that should not be used to draw conclusions about the state of society.
Yet signs of cultural decline have also become evident in the familial sphere, an area the opposition Conservative party has identified as a priority, touting a goal to make Britain the most "family-friendly" country in the world.
It seems they have far to go. In February, Alfie Patten, 13, was reported to have fathered his 15-year-old girlfriend's baby. Though The Daily Telegraph dubbed him "the exploited face of broken Britain," it soon appeared he was only one of several teens claiming paternity. DNA tests later confirmed he was not the father.
Other young people, increasingly girls, are getting drunk at an alarming rate. A Daily Mirror series on the "epidemic" said more than 5,000 teenage girls landed in hospital last year because of binge drinking. Those same teens - loaded up with cheap alcohol - have been fuelling soaring crime rates.
"Last year violent crimes by teenage girls reached a shocking 23,000, many of them alcohol-related," the Mirror said, going on to note that British teenagers "now drink more than almost anywhere in Europe."
But it's not making them any happier. A recent report by the New Economics Foundation found Britons aged 16 to 24 experienced some of the lowest levels of trust and belonging - key elements of social well-being - in Europe. Only Bulgaria and Estonia reported lower rates.
Part of the problem seems to be the number of people leaving school without any qualifications as the dropout rate remains stubbornly high.
Education experts are trying to reshape the curriculum to equip students with the skills they need to function today.
A new report on the primary school curriculum in England and Wales encourages educators to place more emphasis on technology than on traditional subjects.
According to its recommendations, students would not necessarily have to learn about the Victorian era or the Second World War - teachers could choose two "key periods" of British history - but learning skills such as blogging, podcasting and Twittering would take a central role.
The report also calls for a shift from core subjects to cross-cultural "themes," such as sex and relationships, healthy eating, Internet safety, dealing with violent behaviour and managing money.
With such a dramatic confluence of ills, Mr. Mellamphy, an expert in British culture, says it is difficult to envision how British society may begin to right itself.
"There's certainly a need for some kind of a movement [toward] integration rather than resentment," he said. "How exactly they're going to do that, morally and politically, I can't guess."
National Post, with files from news services