I do not like to use isolated incidents for point scoring. So I think David Cameron’s use of the Doncaster killings is no better than populist electioneering. Tony Blair used the Bulger killings in a similar way. Not to say that these killings are not newsworthy. Truly they are horrific. But the reason that they are newsworthy must surely be because they are so shocking? If our society was broken, to the extent that David Cameron says, why would this sort of incident not occur more often. But if we take the Bulger killing in Liverpool and this latest one in Doncaster, we can see that the killings took place in similar areas. Liverpool, in 1993, was a wreckage of a place slowly struggling out of the depressing circumstances of the 1980s when its main industries were closed, communities uprooted and many families livelihoods threatened. Type into google ‘the Toxteth riots’ for an indication of how bad it was. In 1993 then, Liverpool was a down and out place, not the resurgent and confident city that it has began to be rebuilt into in recent years. Doncaster similarly is an area that had its main industry (mining) torn out from under it in the 1980s. It has had similar problems with unemployment, uprooted communities and crime. Hence we see the parallels between the two places.
Clearly there are problems when crimes such as the Bulger and Doncaster killings take place. As I said, I think it is unfair for anyone, Labour or Conservative, to use one crime for political purposes. Just as I think attributing such crimes to a “broken society” as Mr Cameron does, when these killings have taken place in communities that have been broken by a Conservative government, which David Cameron largely intends on reciprocating, and whose leader Mrs Thatcher stated “There is no such thing as society.” The angry public reaction to these killings, suggests, in my view, that while there is certainly evidence of problems within our society, it is very much in existence and is still far from broken.
Sean Woodcock, BULS Member