And why not? It gets a good clap from the sort of core Tories that go to Spring Conference. Die hard miserabilists. But as Philip Collins fisks, not necessarily a good idea:
The trouble with “broken Britain” rhetorically is that it gives real fire to speeches now and ruins every speech three years into government. This list of awful things will be replayed time and again if none of them gets better.
And what are the list of awful things?
“And some people say to me that I’m wrong to talk about the broken society, but I say when you’ve got the highest rate of family breakdown in Europe, when you’ve got one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, when there are a million violent crimes committed every year, when there are 100 knife crimes committed every day, when a seven- year-old child starves to death in Birmingham, our second biggest city, and no one does anything about it, which bit of broken society don’t these people understand?”
I (obviously) hate this sort of thing: out of context stats. So what is the right number of violent crimes for a country of 60 million? 900,000 would be a great result in 5 years’ time, but that would still sound huge. Teenage pregnancy has fallen since the 1960s – what bugs the Tories is that they don’t then get into teenage marriages (which then produce record divorce levels). What is the right number of knife crimes per day? Can the Tories guarantee that no child anywhere will be mistreated by a parent, anywhere? If it happens in one place, will that indict the rest of the 60m society that thinks it is not broken?
Would it have been better if the child had starved in the 12th biggest city?
Cameron blows his whistle very skilfully, but this doesn’t draw dogs from outside his core. It’s for those who are already thinking what he’s thinking.
(PS. If the economy stays broken, I doubt any attempts to fix society will work. This means Cameron thinking harder about QE).