Blair’s ‘respect czar’, Louise Casey, has called for the promotion of good manners in the UK. That’s a laugh, coming from the government that has done more than any other to destroy them.
The problem is highlighted with that pathetic word, ‘respect.’ We are supposed to respect everyone, but respect is something that must be earned, and not something you can automatically expect.
People are entitled to inalienable human rights. This goes without saying. But in telling us to respect everyone, New Labour has made a laughing stock of the need to be good and have good manners. Why bother is you get the respect anyway?
Another problem is our sense of community. There isn’t one. Good manners were never a personal thing, but a social system of convenience. It was always better to be polite because if you were, people would be polite to you.
Britain used to be known as the ‘polite’ society for this reason, and it was endemic to our sense of who we were, and the community in which we lived.
That sense of community is no longer there, so the standards of the community cannot any longer exist. People are now individuals rather than social beings, and in being individual, we want only what we want, with little interest in others.
This was an inevitability of, first, the Thatcherite revolution, and, second, the destruction of the sense of the State by Blair. In a world without meaning above our consumerism, good manners cannot exist in the natural way they used to.
© Anthony North, June 2007
Click Tony On for more current affairs