Thursday 21 July 2011

He Don't Need No Education

A few months ago a female colleague at the Youth Offending Service, Chrissy, asked me to sit in with her and a young male offender of seventeen. She hoped I could be a positive male role model in getting him to do something constructive with his time rather than burgle his neighbours.

"Hi I'm Winston. You must be Noel. Nice to meet you."

Chrissy then asked him what had he been doing since she last saw him several weeks ago.

"I've been looking for jobs but I'm not having any luck."

Having read his file and knowing he was completely illiterate I deduced that luck wasn't really the issue here. I felt that the cart wasn't so much before the horse as completely without one. Anyway, how do you look for work when you can't read? I think Noel was telling us what he thought we might want to hear.

"Noel, in the interests of helping you in the long run, I am going to be blunt with you. There is no point in you seeking work until you learn to read. There's not a job out there these days that will not require you to be literate. To even lug rubble around a building site requires you to do a health and safety course which you will need to be able to read to pass."

"I'll be fine. I'm not doing any courses or college. I hate classrooms and teachers. I'll get work eventually. My Uncle says he has six weeks cash in hand work with him as a gardening assistant in a few months."

"Noel, that's not a secure job its some black market work. There's no future in that for you. If its an issue of being embarrassed in a group we can arrange one to one literacy lessons for you."

"Am not interested. I'll get a job in the end my way. I don't want to talk about this any longer. Are we nearly finished here I've got to be off. I've got stuff to do."

Chrissy arranged his next appointment and dismissed him.

"I've given up with him. He's been in and out of here for a few years now for various offences and despite arranging courses for him and even one to one tuition he just wont engage. He'll turn up for meetings here to prevent being breached, but he refuses to do anything constructive. I've even had work experience arranged for him and they let him go due to turning up late all the time."

We both head back to our respective offices utterly frustrated. Later on I have a discussion with another Youth Offending Officer who informs me that as part of their orders many Young Offenders are required to engage in education, but that some officers wont breach them for failing to attend a course in that they believe it is against their human rights to coerce them in to education. It's nice to know that educated middle class left wing idealists are defending the rights of disadvantaged young people to remain ignorant and disempowered.

For those of you who are interested I've been interviewed here by the Manchester Evening News


Zenobia said...

To be fair my position would me, "Okay then Noel. Go ahead and remain ignorant and uneducated. You're the one who'll remain stuck in a lacuna of poverty, indolence, benefit reliance, and wasted potential. Hope you can live with the psychological torment of having wasted your live in thirty years' time. Byeee!

Shane Pleasance said...

Magnificent blog sir! make no excuse for this young moocher, but have you considered the possibility he may have a social phobia?

Anonymous said...

If he learns to read he won't get a job either. Youth unemployment is a major problem and even those with good A levels and degrees struggle to find work. His role in society will be to keep the public sector busy as without people like him, people like Winston will be redundant.

Anonymous said...

Winston - I'd always pictured you as looking more like O'Brien, but in silhouette at least you look like... Winston Smith!

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Here they have to go to education or the tv comes out of the cell.They have 8 kids to a class i couldnt afford that sort of education for my kids.If you could see the money being wasted on these kids...

well i could go on but....

Hideki said...

That's unfortunately not unusual, a lot seem to be hostile towards education.

What I find more worrying is that these people then seem to be actively working against a good education for their children too which IMHO is child abuse as it's doing them a major disservice, one they will be with for the rest of their lives.

On an unrelated note, excellent book, thanks for writing it. Still trying to get over the fact that lad hanging around making an arse of himself wasn't arrestable but calling you a leprechaun was... As Mr Gadget would say, you couldn't make it up...

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I take it avoiding being "breached" refers to a state benefit of some kind? Isn't that a large part of the problem? If the state keeps financially rewarding him, engaged or otherwise, it's an easy choice for him.

Anonymous said...

Very one sided if you ask me.... always wary of people that can't seem to manage a balanced argument....

Outreacher said...

Once again you are trusted with helping young, disadvantaged and vulnerable man, yet all we see is you judging him to be a useless outcast and belittling him so that what little self respect the poor fellow may have will be crushed.

You are fortunate that you are not in the same position as these unfortunate young men and women, so instead of judging them, why not help them?

Anonymous said...

It's the old old problem of leading a horse to water and it refusing to drink. Terms like "human rights" and "political correctness gone mad" are thrown around a lot in frustration but the fact remains that we can't force anyone to do anything...this isn't the fault of wishy-washy middle class liberals but is an unfortunate reality. And unfortunately no matter how hard people involved in this young man's life will try, the dominant external culture preaches norms of "take it're worth it, trust in yourself and you can achieve anything..." without the balancing notion that one has to work hard to achieve happiness (as Lionel Shriver puts it: joy is a job). This young man is expressing the culture created for him by adults...a culture which does nothing to suggest that getting on and doing things is one's own responsibility. "no power" often equals "no responsibility".

Anonymous said...

your talent is back

Anonymous said...


More power to Winston - great blog!

Not only do I continually find your experiences depressing, one or two of the numpties on here could do with a reality check too!

People are responsible for their own lives; yes - even to some extent children! Nobody can make them study at school - they have to want it! Naturally this all starts with being dragged up or dragging themselves up due to shite or non-existent parenting.

But when you mix a culture of "nobody has the right to tell you what to do" or "no one can jude you" handed down to children by supposed adults, all hope is gone!

It might be physically impossible to force young Naomi or Brad to do their home work or strive for achievement, but it is certainly possible to make them behave in class and create an environment where behaving like a lout brings heavy consquences. The less likely you are to have the situation we have now.

Yes we have to tell children what to do (because they are children idiots) and yes we have to have certain behaviours that are roundly frowned upon by the authorities and society at large, otherwise you have chaos!

Really? What part of being told to behave, treat people with respect, have some self respect and responsility and wrong hard does anyone have a problem with?

My six year old gets it because we've bothered to give her love, time, affection and heaven forbide (liberals turn away now!) rules, boundaries and yes! punnishments (bring on the smelling salts) for transgressions!!!

Surprise, surprise - she is happy, well-adjusted, well behaved, polite and doing well at school: all because my wife and I, nasty, judgemenal adults that we are were judgemental in her life, and even dared to tell her what to do!!!!

Zenobia said...

Outreacher, if you read the opening chapter of his book you'll notice that Winston was in the same situation as some of these people - crippling drug and drink habit, victim mentality - but came to the conclusion that unless he helped himself he'd probably die.

Similarly, these "vulnerable" young people are indeed disadvantaged and in need of assistance. But any assistance will be completely useless unless they take responsibility for themselves.

Wouldn't you say that's fair, Outreacher?

Better still, tell us what you'd do in this situation to assist such a person as Noel.

Anonymous said...

You are fortunate that you are not in the same position as these unfortunate young men and women, so instead of judging them, why not help them?

A) He does, he actually works with them. What do you do to help other than crioticise those who actually help?

B) He did try to help. The young lad is illiterate and can't find employment. The obvious solution is to address the illiteracy, which the lad refuses to do. A repeated theme of the series is that you cannot force someone in your care to do something they don't want to do, so apart form strongly advising them that learning to read is the only way they will get out of the rut, what can he do?

He can arrange classes or mentoring till the cows come home but if the resident refuses to turn up or doesn't believe in education, what is the point.

and C) He was in a similar position. Step one if clawing your way out is accepting responsibility for your situation and trying to improve your lot.

I would be interested to hear how you would have advised the young man on an alternate strategy. Would you have told him he was fine the way he was to boost his self esteem and continue him down the path of being illiterate and incapable of finding work? How would that actually help him in any way, shape or form?

Outreacher said...

In response to the various right-wingers, I am currently studying for an honours degree in sociology, after which I plan become a social worker. So yes, I will be doing something to help vulnerable people. However instead of constantly judging I will empower them with a sense of self worth.

With Noel I would attempt to build the poor man's confidence and encourage him to make the right choice.

WinstonSmith33 said...


Why do you pidgeon-hole people as being right wing if they dont agree with your excessively liberal views on social policy? I am actually a social democrat in the mould of Old Labour and liberal in most of my views however when it comes to crime and disaffected young people I believe in a mixture of carrot and stick.

I once believed as you did after I graduated with my sociology degree. Good luck and I hope you have success in turning peoples lives around. You said you wanted to empower people therefore you are judging them to be disempowered which means you to use judgement to make decisions. The ultra liberal approach to crime and delinquency and disaffection has failed and you will find this out soon enough. I think the dropout rate in social works is around one in five within five years. Soon you will be dealing with these reasons and it might just test your idealism.

Steve said...

@ Outreacher.....aka Trym the Troll

Anonymous said...

The UK has the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Europe and we lock more children up than any other European country other than Turkey. I hardly think this can can be described as an "ultra liberal" approach to youth crime.

Anonymous said...

@ Outreacher
Outreacher said...
In response to the various right-wingers, I am currently studying for an honours degree in sociology, after which I plan become a social worker. So yes, I will be doing something to help vulnerable people. However instead of constantly judging I will empower them with a sense of self worth.

With Noel I would attempt to build the poor man's confidence and encourage him to make the right choice.

I so cannot wait for you to finish your degree, get yo butt out there and suck it up some. I also cannot wait for you to shut up once you have done so.
People like you Outreacher are a cancer that is slowly eating away at the most vulnerable in our society. Telling them that they can only ever be victims or service users. Your days are numbered, roll on the day when everyone wakes up and we can close down Social Services, their university departments and build a new service based on high expectations of people. Staffed by a mix and infected by a culture of self examination. This is absent from modern social work and I think it is brave social workers like my friend who stand up to the cultural left BS that they are forced to implement all blinkin day, every day.

I sat in a training session last week and listened to some someone like you spout on about "this is a valid culture" blah blah blah. Really? It is a culture that I wish had never been inflicted on me and I hold the likes of you totally responsible.
So many of you are middle class (and I bet that you are Outreacher), you would not choose this for your own families but you inflict it on us like we are something in a petri dish to be studied. Then you have the nerve to stand back and spout this "Oh poor people" nonsense when you made things this way. Seriously, I want the likes of you barred from working with groups like this and I want practice to be a bit more oppresive. Also, how about we just start saying NO to people? No to having your first kid at fourteen, no to benefits if you produce another despite the fact that you are clearly dysfunctional as a parent? How about it? That will change people's lives, your approach has failed for decades now. We want you out of our lives.

Oh and for the record "Poor Noel" appears to be suffering from rampant narcissism and not a deficit of self esteem. Needs a taser applied to him quick!!!!

Anonymous said...

Please start a blog when you start work it will be fascinating to compare it with Winston's.

WinstonSmith33 said...

The 2nd anonymous above:

But I bet you the Youth detention centres in Turkey dont provide dvd players and video game boxes and that their young offenders dont have individual cells.

Now before the usual pigeon holers start pointing and shouting reactionary I am not saying that we should treat our young offenders barbarically or inhumanely but remember that to be sent to a young offenders institute in the UK you need to be a recidivist young criminal and have committed serious offences including burglaries and violent crimes. There was a time when we punished people for these types of crimes. Why is punishment now a dirty word? Im not saying that we should just focus on punishment, of course we should also seek to rehabilitate and lead people away from crime but punishing people humanely is just and can act as a deterrent in some cases. Of course there are some people who are so damaged or intrinsically evil-minded that they can not be changed. To say this is heresy within the criminal justice system but it is the truth. Punishment is one of the strands needed in working with offenders to try and instill and reinforce acceptable social norms. To not provide effective punishment as a part of youth justice is a neglect of our duty to the offender and the wider society as a whole.

However, many of my ex-colleagues seem to have overlooked the fact that some people are just sociopathic and beyond help and dont want to change. That said many young offenders, even some of those who have committed serious offences do change. Many young people make mistakes and go off the rails for a while but eventually develop a conscience or see the harm they are doing to others, society and themselves.

However, in all of this debate and finger pointing, pigeon holing and sneering at my views there has been very little mentioned of the victims of serious and recidivist youth crime. Remember them? They are the old ladies who have been burgled for the umpteenth time. Or the kid with learning difficulties who has been mugged and assaulted for his mobile phone. Or the law abiding working class family who have had the car they barely manage to keep on the road stolen. The car that they need for Dad to get to work so he can keep a roof over his families head. Where are the days out at leisure centres for them? Where is the understanding and empathy for them? Where is the service for them?

Outreacher said...

But what you fail to see Winston is that the young people in your care are victims themselves. Victims of s society that has failed them. As privileged members of society it is our moral duty to help them. They don't need punishment, they have been punished enough by virtue of the way society has cast them out and near written them off, they need help, guidance and praise. None of which they seem to receive from draconian Daily Mail types as you appear to be Winston.

WinstonSmith33 said...

@Outreacher above

In the case of serious recidivist criminals who blight the lives of vulnerable people in the working class neighbourhoods in which they live there needs to be justice.

I agree with you that there needs to be an element of help and guidance but for serious crimes there needs to be an element of punishment. Young people or any people for that matter should not be praised for not robbing, mugging or beating up other people. This is lunacy. Also you are widely mistaken to assume that all young offenders are from dysfunctional backgrounds and it is also insulting to the vast majority of young people from some form of dysfunction who dont commit serious crime on a regular basis. Whilst dysfunctional backgrounds are a factor in some offenders this is not the only factor.

I disagree that we have cast anyone out in this society. The UK has one of the most generous welfare states in the world. If people were starving or living in the streets due to no income then I could understand robbing from the wealthy but we do not live in this type of society. Whilst inequality is an issue we do not have abject poverty here and where there does exist severe poverty for kids its because dysfunctional parents spend their benefit money on drugs and alcohol.

Anonymous said...

If you feel that your work, and its no-doubt generous salary is producing such negative results, perhaps you would be happier off in the private sector; doing work which is both appealing, rewarding and of benefit to your employer?

Anonymous said...

Winston, you are entirely correct and it's always a depressing pleasure to come read what you've written.

Outreacher, you are insane. "As privileged members of society it is our moral duty to help them." No. No it is not. Do they have no duty to themselves? Are they cattle for people like you to manage and herd? You pompous windbag, you want to help poor people? Start a business and offer them meaningful work.

Anonymous said...


In what way does Noel has 'low self-esteem'?
Personally, I work 8 am to 10 pm because I know that I am not as good as my colleagues and need to work harder in order to produce comparable results. Nevertheless I don't see myself as having low self-esteem.

Wouldn't low self-esteem cause someone to work harder rather than laze about?

Anonymous said...

Winston your not at all clear on what you mean by the term punishment. In terms of custodial sentences is the lose of liberty and separation from their family not punishment enough for any child? What else exactly would you like to see happen to them? How would your favored method of punishment (whatever this may be) promote a change in the child's behavior? Are there any other countries that you feel manage youth crime more in line with your concept of justice and if so are they effective in reducing re-offending?

It must be a terrifying experience for a teenager to be sent Young Offenders Institute because they contain so many violent offenders as you yourself point out. I imagine most inmates are lucky if they don't receive a good kicking or sexual assault at some point in their sentence. The recent inquest into Adam Rickwood's suicide indicate to me that being in custody as a child is not quite the picnic you think it is.

Anonymous said...

Outreacher, your faux sympathy for the 'victims of society' not only condemns the genuine victims (the murdered, the assaulted, the raped, the mugged, the burgled and robbed) but condemns the very people you profess to wish to help. Many, probably most, of the people that Winston and his fellow staff try to help are far from beyond hope. They have potential to be the people that prompted George Santayana to describe as '... disciplined, skilful and calm ... the ideal comrade in a tight place; he knows how to be ... well-dressed without show, and pleasure-loving without loudness.' ('Soliloquies In England', 1922), and psychologist and anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer as 'certainly among the most peaceful, gentle, courteous and orderly populations that the civilised world has ever seen ... You hardly ever see a fight in a bar ... Football crowds are as orderly as church meetings.' ('Exploring English Character', 1955).

But some people need a nudge: as simple as stopping their benefits--at that point the pizza-delivery jobs that the Perrys and Mikes (qv 'Generation F') currently refuse to do become quite palatable. As work becomes a habit, they can then achieve more--some will be promoted from pizza-delivery or serving burgers, others will better their prospects with part-time study. Each of them will be able to look in the mirror and see reflected a self-sufficient and functioning citizen instead of a pauper living off the taxpayer. Others need more than a nudge--perhaps a 'short sharp shock' of a birching, or a period inside a strict prison; but all but the most hardened of thugs learn (it is not for nothing that while there were 272.54 recorded crimes per 100,000 people in 1921, 398.71 in 1931, there were 10,064.42 in 2001).

Of course, Outreacher, if such young adults were obliged to learn responsibility, to be 'awakened to the very possibility of possibility', then you would not have such a cosy sinecure awaiting you. You help no-one but yourself.

Zenobia said...

Outreacher, I kinda suspected you were a student bum.

Come back in 5 years' time when you've got some experience of the real world.

Lilyofthefield said...

I taught the illiterate for years (in school and in prison) and it was the minority who wouldn't engage. If they don't understand, and the minority don't or won't or can't face up to it, how seriously their lack willaffect their lives, then you have to shake the dust from your shoes and move on. They've copped out. They can't face it. They will do whatever it takes to get them the stuff that others get via the sweat of their brows.

It's a miracle to me that the majority CAN read. It's a complex intellectual process that is not, in any pre-dark-age way, remotely necessary to survival. I have to feel, as a teacher, especially sorry for those who didn't get it.

Anonymous said...

@Outreacher, using the term "victims" just about sums your attitude up. Not helpful to anyone. And quite arrogant to preach when you have no practical experience? Good luck to you when you do join the work force, your collegues (and "victims") will hate you! Wise up.

Anonymous said...

I see that Stanger’s contrary view of Victorian Britain, where domestic violence and child abuse were rare, is not backward looking enough for him. He now wants a return of the medieval practice of birching. Equally depressing is that people would rather slate Outreacher for her youthful idealism and altruism than question these ultra reactionary ideas. A little naivety is less offensive to me than the idea that we should hit children with implements to manage their behaviour.

Anonymous said...

@ Stranger Here Myself

Love the link to the work of Anthony Daniels, "Life at the Bottom" sums up perfectly how middle class professionals foster crime and deprivation, then stand back and take the jobs this creates.
So much like my life growing up on the estates, where filth like Outreacher do indeed behave like middle class, patronising cowherds.

Some social policy makers and the workers implementing this guff should be put on trial and their property seized so that tax payers do not have to compensate their victim.

They are like abusive priests but without the sex.

Recently I watched from my bedroom window as the teenage Mum next door (with a three bedroom council house with two massive gardens to herself) had her children bought to her for a visit by social workers. She had been out all night and had woken the whole street at 3am ranting and screaming at some random she had picked up. The workers bought the children to the door and started knocking, she did not answer. As the children grew more distressed the Social Workers returned to their car leaving the children to continue knocking. This was tragic to see, they were heartbroken and she clearly does not give a rats a*^ about the emotional impact on her children. I see this day in and out where I live. I have no doubt the workers in this felt that they were right.

At the same time a "community of lefties" in a specific ward in my town recently voted to change school boundaries in way that would benefit them massively but forced the poorest and most vulnerable into the worst schools with no hope of escape. Still secures their jobs for the future I suppose and means that my relatives will never benefit from the education on offer at the best schools because they are trapped on one of the estates victimised by these liberal facists.

The left has lost it's moral and intellectual currency in this regard and seems to be more interested in maintaining a scoial structure that directly benefits them at the expense of the poor.

Outreacher do you not see how your attitude to us (see below) is patronising beyond belief and disempowering?

"In response to the various right-wingers, I am currently studying for an honours degree in sociology, after which I plan become a social worker. So yes, I will be doing something to help vulnerable people. However instead of constantly judging I will empower them with a sense of self worth.

With Noel I would attempt to build the poor man's confidence and encourage him to make the right choice."

I'm sorry but everything that you have had to say just smacks of patronising pseudo leftie guff. If you really cared you would be fighting for their freedom from this slavery, because that is what they are to people like you, slaves to be harvested.

Anonymous said...

If any of the above post is true then it applies equally to Winston Smith. He too secures his living from misery and deprivation. He is dependent on the underclass so has the same interest in maintaining the current social structure as the “liberal fascists” you mention. He won’t find a better job with his an undesirable arts degree and wouldn’t have material for his blog or his novel if he did.

Winston patronisingly believes that his degree in sociology qualifies him to “work” with the underclass as if they are from a different species. He believes that by virtue of simply being with him young offenders should be able to turn their lives around. Worst still he then comes on here and insults them.

You make a very good point about the middle classes voting to change school boundaries to benefit their own kids. The kind of young people being discussed here will never get a look in while those kind of divisions are encouraged.

WinstonSmith33 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WinstonSmith33 said...

I have mostly worked through social care agencies and initially did so under the illusion of the same naive idealism possessed by Outreacher.

As an agency worker I have no real career prospects. I will resign soon from the agency which I have been working. I started this blog as a form of catharsis and to tell the truth about what I saw occcurring in care, supported housing and more recently the Youth Offending Service. My blog doesnt provide me with an income and for the amount of time and effort I put in to writing my book I can assure you I will by no means be making anywhere near even a small fortune from it so it is not for vast amounts of money or gain that I undertook writing.

Some people may percieve it insulting to call people who behave loutishly louts or behave criminally a criminal. These are perfectly acceptable terms as far as I am concerned. It doesnt mean that the young people involved are incapable of change or that using such terms sums them up in their entirety, but this is not the point.

Those lofty, smug, self righteous idealists believe it is akin to an offence to describe anti-social or criminal beahviour in harsh terms. This is just another way in which they seek to censor the legitimate anger of victims and communities that are scourged by rogues and louts. These same people that come on here never show any true empathy for the actual victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. I wonder if the likes of Outreacher or others of his kind would be so polite in how they referred to someone who mugged them or broke in to their grandmothers house trashed it and assaulted her.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous
Fair point but I too have worked within these services and got out and quite frankly it sounds to me like Winston very much desires to do the same. So I am speaking from both personal and professional experience. It is a sort of liberal facism, I refuse to take that back, I despise our "liberal middle class". They are SLAVERS!!!!! Social Services has, these days, become a genuine social evil. Really evil, the arrogance of Outreacher is testament to how deluded some of these ghastly people are.

I would disagree with you that Smith is as patronising as Outreacher. Your comment that "Winston patronisingly believes that his degree in sociology qualifies him to “work” with the underclass as if they are from a different species." is wrong, he clearly recognises that the boundaries they need are not being applied. He is also deeply aware of how this will change their lives.
I have another friend who is just getting out, he was first in care and then adopted.
Bright eyed and Bushy tailed he went to work in Jobs like Smith's a few years back and now has pretty much the same sort of things to say about clients and some staff members (always the liberal facist types).

We need to de-incentivise irresponsible childbirth. This should get you sent to the back of a housing queue. Welfare infantilises. Recently I have met Danish and Spanish Social Workers temping here and they think that what we do is demented beyond belief.

There will always be those on the fringes of society, we just need to stop creating more. Another guff article in the Grauniad a few weeks ago lamented the "terrible situation of people who are grandparents in their thirties" and droned on and on about the support they need. They do not deserve support, it is their fault that they are where they are, we all have to be responsible for our behaviour. Today on my estate a refuse worker was seriously assaulted by a resident who has never worked, paid a penny to his rent, council tax or the demon spawn he has produced, because "he dropped stuff on my lawn". This disguting lowlife assaulted a low paid WORKER. Imagine that, you are on crap pay and then some tosser whose life you are forced to subsidise and who has never paid council tax assaults you.

I have no doubt, some liberal facist will be standing up for his right to do so.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with you calling someone who behaves a criminally a criminal Winston. However, describing over weight children in care as lardy, morbidly rotund, Jabba the hut, little elephant, delinquent hippos and behemoth is both insulting and moronic.

I wouldn't worry too much about your future career prospects as you'll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Pogo said...

@Outreacher... You're part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Anonymous said...

It’s not middle class liberals you need to fight against in pursuit of social justice. Those that own the majority of wealth and hold the balance of power and are the real enemy if you are talking from a perspective of political struggle.

Single mother’s in council houses are another easy target to blame for all our social problems, but again this fallacious. The state could “de-incentivise irresponsible childbirth” or could create a society that offers better and more attractive options for young working class women – such as fairly paid jobs or access to education. But of course high unemployment drives down wages for the benefit of business owners and share holders so this will never happen.

If you removed access to public housing from families that need it, babies and children would suffer most. The state could of course remove those children at birth, but they would then be adopted by the middle class people you can’t abide.

What this blog offers is an underclass discourse in explaining social problems, but there are a range of other perspectives that can be applied.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Anonymous said...
"I have no problem with you calling someone who behaves a criminally a criminal Winston. However, describing over weight children in care as lardy, morbidly rotund, Jabba the hut, little elephant, delinquent hippos and behemoth is both insulting and moronic.

I wouldn't worry too much about your future career prospects as you'll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator."

To the offended person I have quoted above. I never called these kids these names or terms when I was dealing with them as I gave them respect and treated them fairly despite the fact they were not required or expeted to do so to each other, the staff or the wider community.

As an ex rotund hippo myself I find there to be nothing wrong with this type of banter as long as it isnt directed at people to their face to cause hurt or embarrassment. That said in my lardy days as a teenager young adult my friends used to call me "Agustus Gloop" after the chubby lad in Willie Wonka. I actually found it funny and int the long run it helped me lose weight as I realised that being nicknamed after a fat kid in a movie was a sign I needed to cut down on the junk I was eating and go for a walk. This is my sense of humour and if you dont like it then you dont have to read my blog no one is forcing you.

Anonymous said...

I assume you feel it's ok to be derogatory about people on the grounds of their race if you don't do so in front of their faces? Perhaps we can have a laugh at the expence of disabled people. Or indulge any other prejudice we might have so long as it's behind the backs of our targets.

WinstonSmith33 said...

QUOTE FROM ABOVE: "I assume you feel it's ok to be derogatory about people on the grounds of their race if you don't do so in front of their faces? Perhaps we can have a laugh at the expence of disabled people. Or indulge any other prejudice we might have so long as it's behind the backs of our targets."

As I abhor racism and prejudice against disabled people I would react quite strongly if anyone made such comments to me about anyone's race or physical disabilities. I dont think laughing at people with regards to their race or disability is comparable with calling someone who is fat 'lardy.' Being an ex rotund person myself was as a result of my swallowing to many pies and chips without chewing and lying about on my whale of an arse. I was living an unhealthy life. My weight and body size were as a result of my making bad choices. Im glad people said something about that to my face even if they sometime joked about it. It helped me.

I never would have dared called any of the kids I worked with a hippo as they would have assaulted me but how would that have been worse (if it was done in a non-taunting way) than sitting back and allowing them and actively giving them the food that allowed them become this way along with acting as a taxi service so they never even got the minimal exercise. Thats what you should be angry about not my language on a blog that was never directed at the young people themselves? Do you spend much time policing language on other blogs I wonder?

Zenobia said...

@Outreacher and the anonymous cowards above.

Altruism and idealism are all well and good but they need to be tempered with the scourging fire of practicality.

The reality is that folks like Noel and the other people mentioned on this blog will never amount to anything unless they help themselves. Winston et al are trying (very trying) to help them but at the end of the day that is all they are there to do. The omnibenevolent State can unzip their trousers, and they can point them downwind, but not even every keyworker, support worker, advocate, vulnerable persons officer, and community advisor in the land working together can piss for them.

Similarly, when the welfare system was conceived it was as a temporary safety net so that people who fell ill or lost their jobs wouldn't starve to death. It was not meant to be the sticky, fibrous shibboleth it has now become in which certain people are disincentivised from trying to better themselves because they're better off on benefits (and yes, I CAN cite examples that are not from the Daily Mail).

If it's reactionary to insist on people taking responsibility, then smack my arse and call me a reactionary.

Lilyofthefield said...

Could the "anonymous"es not come up with a nom-de-keyboard for the purpose? I have often wished to reply to an "anonymous" but then doscover that another several "anonymouses" have posted diametrically opposite views sraight after.

To one Anon, if our country bangs them up at an earlier age then surely that's becase either they offend at an earlier age, have no responsible adult with whom to entrust their behaviour (I mean Pointless Parent) or other countries put their damaged-byond-repairs into an institution they don't call prison but which serves the same purpose.

Anonymous said...

I too expect people to take responsibility for themselves, but believe this is possible without being derogatory about those who struggle to do so. Winston does nothing to help young offenders as he expects them to be ready to make changes in there lives as soon as he meets them. If he was skilled at at his job he'd be able to gradually inspire some aspiration in them instead of instantly writing them off.

WinstonSmith33 said...

@Anonymous direct above

I do expect them to make changes straight away. It only takes a decision to stop robbing and/or being a violent nuisance in the community.

I dont write everyone off straight away if you took the time to read my blog posts you would have read my views on what I have termed loveable and unloveable rogues.

Anonymous said...

The various anonymous liberals above, who are not 'left wing' in any meaningful sense, argue poorly: little more than insult, misrepresentation, distraction and repetition--casually dismissing arguments, fixating on minutiae to divert the other party to the detriment of the wider argument, and repeating points already rebutted. The poverty of what passes for their arguments suggests their viewpoint has no sound moral, factual or logical basis.

What now passes for politically 'left' is perverse. It is not just that the Old Left were largely working class themselves (Nye Bevan, Ernest Bevin, Morrison, etc.), whereas the modern 'left' are overwhelmingly middle-class; but even the better off Old Left (e.g. Attlee, Gaitskell) genuinely championed the working class and did their utmost to improve their condition and opportunities. The modern middle class liberal-left, however, reduce opportunities for the working class (e.g. the steady worsening of education) and with their siding with the victimisers and criminal-friendly policies, enable the criminal predators to continue their predation on the working class.

The Old Labour Left would be horrified at the distortion of their ideals, and the perversion of the Welfare State they created.

Outreacher said...

Wow. Some of the vitriolic rhetoric from the reactionary right-wing commenters is just staggering.

I am the one who has decided to dedicate my life to helping underprivileged people and yet *I* am the the one who is "really evil" and "ghastly"?

I am the one who wishes to help these unfortunate unsupported victims of modern society, rather than lock them away from the age of 16, yet I'm the one who is "arrogant"?

Please, put down your Daily Mails just long enough to see that there are people out there who have not had any of the opportunities you take for granted. If you truly cared about our society, you would support doing all we can to help such communities.

Anonymous said...

I agree with StrangerHereMyself. His views on crime and punishment are well informed, tightly argued and entirely logical. He's clearly a visionary. The idea that birching children is somehow unacceptable is political correctness gone made. Whip some sense into em that's what I say.

Anonymous said...

Let's all stay hopeful and try to find solutions rather than trying to tear people to pieces.

Anonymous said...

As I wrote: naught but insult, misrepresentation and distraction; no attempt to rebut any argument presented; no attempt to provide any sources to support their views.

Opportunities I take for granted, Outreacher? What opportunities would these be, my privileged bourgeois university-educated friend? Only a belated realisation that the only way I was going to sort my life out was to quit feeling sorry for myself and waiting for the world to hand me a living on a plate, and crack on with the study (and no leisurely four years-plus at university being spoonfed my opinions for me, but studying outside of work for trade-related qualifications) and get out there.

Outreacher, you condemn us as being Daily Mail readers. Still... Daily Mail readers who can allude to Voltaire and Milton, and cite philosophers such as Santayana--rather more elevated discussion than you educated middle-class types seem able to offer, what?

Anonymous @28/7/11:04:30 and @31/7/11:15:19 is fixated on my passing mention of birching--one word out of 328. Ignored is the link I provided to the tale of Lily Lilley, a lonely 71 year old widow, tormented--bullied--for years by the feral creations of our Welfare State before being tortured to death by two of them. Ignored are the statistics documenting the astounding rise in crime in England & Wales over the last century, which, as per-population ratios, have increased:
Total recorded offences: 6,506%
Crimes of serious violence inc. homicides: 4,254%
Rapes: 7,666%
Sexual assaults: 3,222%
Crimes of dishonesty: 14,385%

A four thousand, two hundred and fifty-four percent increase in crimes of serious violence! 15,165 rapes last year alone. I suggest you quit parading your supposed superiority to the world and start trying to actually address the problem.

LS said...

"However instead of constantly judging I will empower them with a sense of self worth."

You can't give someone self-worth. It's SELF-worth.

Anonymous said...

Eventually prison will claim him.
I have always felt that a sentance should be a practical one. For example you will go to prison for as long as it takes you to learn to read etc etc. Prison would have none of the frills it would however have the necessary facilities to allow individuals to complete such a sentance.

Anonymous said...

Hi Winston,

I fully agree with you that
1. Promoting unhealthy lifestyles through overfeeding and lack of exercise
2. Depriving children of a proper upbringing by setting no boundaries

is just as abusive as (or perhaps 80% as in the first case and 120% as in the second case)
1. Insufficient food
2. Setting too strict boundaries

I'm just curious as to why the state does not see it this way. After all, most doctors agree that obesity in children results in long term complications when they reach adulthood.

Anonymous said...

To StrangerHereMyself

People might be ignoring the information you provide because they’re not clear on the point you are making. What do you think the crime statistics from 1898 or the story of Lily Lilley tell us? What do you derive from your reading of the statistics? People can’t respond to an argument that has no conclusion. I think you’re claiming that the rise in crime is due the state being too soft on crime, but could you clarify this?

On another note it seems a little odd to accuse people of thinking they’re superior immediately after proclaiming your own comments as a “rather more elevated discussion” and name dropping Milton and Voltaire. Also you accuse others of resorting to insults, but your comments have a more aggressive tone than most of the others. For the record I’m from a single parent, working class family. I’ve been to university, but don’t think this is something to be ashamed of.

confused said...

As someone who considers himself quite left wing, sometimes stupidly left wing, I thought your book was a bloody good read. Whats mad is that I only picked it up after putting Chavs by Owen Jones down after being slightly disappointed. Saw your book, saw the name (winston smith, you internet geeks love that bloke) and a quick look and I was hooked. Whilst the daily mail does gives the book thumbs, and you got a link to Gudio and Peter Hitchens (fuck me your work must of really screwed you up hehehe) you remind me of a mate of mine who did the same work you do, proper left wing (more so then me in some cases) and far from an reactionary daily heil reader as possible as he was so so socially liberal, and he still is, and so am I. But he had the same moans, gripes and complaints you had.....We have problems with a nuisance neighbour who is like one of the many people you have encounted. Just nice hearing something that wasnt through right wing littlejohn bile, but held the libs to account too.

Anonymous said...

I have been honoured to work with Winston, I can tell you first hand what he says is true, Young Offenders are treated to days out, activities including gym, boxing classes climbing wall and horse riding the thing us honest working people cannot afford for there kids. No wonder you see the same faces year after year, there are no conciquences for there actions and the majority do not want to change, We are on a third generation of unemployment in families and it is acceptable not to work, they see there parents with plasma tv s in the house and high tech equipment and niether parent has worked a day in there lifes great role models.

WinstonSmith33 said...


Whilst I have links to Peter Hitchens and Guido it doesnt mean I share all of their views I also have links to Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen and the Guardian. Personally, I keep an open mind and judge each issue on the merits of the evidence presented to me. I dont come at an issue from my predetermined political bias (I used to). Like you I am socially liberal but there is a misconception that because one is liberal in say sexual rights, freedom of speech, limited abortion rights and divorce that it therefore follows one is some kind of apologist for crime and anti-social behaviour.

I believe this pigeon-holing of liberals as having a supine approach to crime and criminals has occurred due the cultural revolutionaries of the sixties (who were right on many issues) taking control of social policy in relation to crime, disorder, childcare, social service provision and educational policy. In many of these areas their policies were wrong but they came to hold sway. The fruits of which I write about here as do other bloggers in the public sector.

I would describe myself as a social democrat. Isnt it strange that people have come to think you are a reactionary if you expect a degree of civilised behaviour from the populace. Yet, in the 1950s and 60s the Labour party and working class communities believed in traditional law and order and a degree of discipline in schools.

It is those who have taken liberalism to an extreme end of the political spectrum within social services etc etc who are the real extremists and then try and tar everyone as some kind of ultra-right wing loon if they dont sign up to their insistence that to be truly liberal is to allow the deterioration of society before one's eyes in that this is the result of people making their own choices regardless of how it affects others or that they cant help choosing dysfunction as they were brought up that way.

Anonymous said...


It is facile, patronising and childish to assume that everyone who disagrees with you is a right wing Daily Mail reader. Also, so far, this appears to be your only defence and it is dull. Are you incapable of addressing the issues and examples cited by other commenters here?

It strikes me that you may be as close minded as those here that you criticise, simply because you have failed to provide any evidence to support your view. Instead, you sit from your comfortable, middle class position and insult commenters who have actually had the misfortune to have been made to live this way or see the impacts in their daily lives. Really, is this the very best that you can do?

Winston, your are correct in your view that the post 68 generation have a lot to answer for. I also agree with the posters above that this "racket", as I choose to describe it, is simply guaranteeing that their work does not run out. Zenobia (Queen of Palmyra), you rock, lots of sense from you. Keep it coming.

To the poster above who cites economics as a reason from the condition of the working class. You are absolutely right in what you say but when we ensure that this group are robbed of their education (by a middle class hegemony) and the opportunity to learn and develop their self awareness (and their political awareness)by having to take at least some responsibilty for their choices, we infanitlise them and this does not allow them the intellectual growth to stand up and fight the forces that you, quite correctly, cite. Instead they end up joining forces with Twats like the EDL and attack other poor people who are just a different colour (don't you just love the divisive identity politics of the Left, a ClusterF8&K if there ever was on). Noam Chomsky said the same, poor people will attack each other and not those responsible for their plight.

Oh and before Outreacher trys to tar me with the "Racist Daily Mail" reader brush. I am a Guardian reader and always have been, used to be a left wing voter and I grew up on a council estate. I would suggest that Outreacher extneds his or her range of literature on these issues. Also, start citing some evidence Outreacher because you sound like a patronising class bigot.

Also, to other commenters. Apologies for posting as "Anonymous", I am having issues setting up an ID. I was planning on adopting the moniker "Working Class Autonomy"
On the other hand "Freedom from well meaning middle class slavery" might do just as well.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous@5/8/11:02:46: my comment explicitly responded to Outreacher and ilk's condescension to us working class, arrogantly dismissing us as Daily Mail readers (used as insult it implies that the target is uneducated, stupid, etc.). I challenge you to find any post by Outreacher et al that offers arguments of substance instead of insults and fatuous remarks.

I oblige no-one to take notice of my posts. I object only to the tactic of misrepresenting arguments and employing insult and distraction instead of honest debate. I suffer no delusion that our host, who has graciously allowed my comments to appear, agrees with much or any of my views; I have disagreed with some of his although have not posted my disagreement--who am I to send him my unsolicited opinions? One reason alone prompted me to post my first comment here, on the previous thread: that of someone misrepresenting others' comments.

Regarding crime statistics, I must first beg pardon for those quoted earlier: I mistakenly copied from the wrong table and the quoted figures are the increase in raw numbers rather than per-population. By themselves, they should be considered in the light of England & Wales' population growing only 63% from 1901 to 2001. A society competent at managing crime would see it increase by about the same percentage instead of rising by thousands of percent.

The figures I should have quoted for the increase in crime per 100,000 population are:
Total recorded offences: 3,944%
Crimes of serious violence inc. homicides: 2,565%
Rapes: 4,654%
Sexual assaults: 1,934%
Crimes of dishonesty: 2,769%

By way of comparison, from 1861 to 1901 crime (per 100,000) decreased 2%; and that despite criminalising various behaviours and, 'if [the police] deterred crime, they also discovered and recorded infringements of the law that would otherwise have gone undiscovered and unrecorded, thus inflating the numbers of crimes even as they apprehended the criminals.' (Gertrude Himmelfarb, The De-moralization of Society: From Victorian virtues to modern values).

That the Victorians successfully reduced crime whilst liberals have managed its thousand-fold increase suggests...?

The first step in solving a problem is recognising one exists.

WinstonSmith33 said...


Unsolicited opinions, as you call them, are welcome here, as are views that diverge from my own. The only thing that I ask people to do is refrain from openly abusive and hostile language. Healthy debate and disagreement welcome and hopefully people are open minded to new evidence. However, from some of the contributors on here you can see this is not the case. Sadly, I was like that one time myself.

p.s.I agree with some of what you say. I havent had time to read all your posts though. Its quite simple from my own work experience and that is that there is more crime beacause the criminal is treated like a victim themselves and there are no detterents or real consequences to deter people from criminal or dissolute lifestyles.

Oswald Bastable said...

And those chickens are currently coming home to roost!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about something. How widespread is this criminal/violent culture in Britain? I had the impression, from this blog and elsewhere, that it perhaps affects about 2% of the population?

However, the widespread looting/burning pictures in London seem like scenes from Afghanistan. Is the culture of violence more prevalent than i think?