Monday, 26 March 2012

Maureen Messent: An open letter to the Birmingham Mail

Dear Sirs,

Maureen Messent is correct thast many under-achieving white English children ‘have parent(s) with no incentives to encourage their progeny to succeed’. However, I have to ask, where does she think these parents were educated? Does she think they appeared out of thin air, that everyone decided en-masse they would apathetic with regards to the future of their children? The fact of the matter is that the parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents of the children she refers to are products of our education system. It is a system which has been failing the majority of ordinary working class people for decades. If this is not the case, then I must assume that Messent is implying that the English working class are in some way inferior, which I am sure she isn’t, as that would be undeniably racist.

The education system has failed, and continues to fail, generation upon generation of English working class schoolchildren. Discipline was abandoned (now reintroduced for some strange reason) in British schools along with society in general. Tried and tested successful teaching methods have been replaced with one failed experiment after another. We are now seeing the culmination of that failing in the people she so callously dehumanises with provocative language I dare her to use when referring to any other social or ethnic group. Of course, she won’t utilise similar language or stereotypes with other ethnicities. If she did, she would be breaking National Union of Journalists guidelines, but because it’s the English working class, we are viewed as fair game by Messent and unfortunately your newspaper by association.

Unlike other previously under-achieving social groups, the English working class, now a minority in its own right according to a recent survey by research group Britain Thinks, has, up to now, been continually overlooked and ignored by the system which identifies and combats under-achieving children from other minority groups. The reasons why are obvious, the English working class has been deserted by its traditional benefactors such as the church, robbed of its organs of defence such as the Labour Party or trade unions. Therefore, with no-one to speak for them, English working class concerns such as education, but also housing, welfare and employment have been routinely ignored by successive governments.

Yes, there are many white English families now receiving benefits, but to dismiss them all as workshy or unwilling to secure decent jobs is wrong, not just because it is stereotypical and discriminatory, but because it is incorrect. Anyone who lives in the real world knows that there simply aren’t the same amount of jobs there once were and the population has increased, not to mention competition from low-overhead and in some cases subsidised economic migrants under-cutting many domestic job-seekers for the few vacant positions which remain in the UK. It’s only become relevant now, because the ignorant, like Messent, often seek scapegoats when the going gets tough. Just like politicians who seek the lowest common denominator to blame for their own mistakes, the weakest in society are easier prey than the real culprits.

These people, who Messent cruelly and unnecessarily dehumanises with terminology such as ‘bovine’, are in actual fact the abandoned English working class, surplus to requirements now our manufacturing is farmed out to third world sweat-shops. With the country’s manufacturing industries in terminal decline and few employment prospects, these abandoned people have been left to rot in white council estate ghettos. Yes, a benefits culture is encouraged, but who by? To say these under-educated and therefore depoliticised people are the architects of their own destiny, to say they have engineered the situation, is laughable, not to mention crass.

What we are actually seeing is the result of abject cowardice by our politicians, who now care more about short-term gain, re-election and power than they do about the national interest and the personal development of their electorate. Well, when I say electorate, this is where the reason behind the dereliction of the working class becomes obvious: a poor education results in lower expectations, it also results in people becoming detached from the democratic process. The situation has been engineered, but not by the people Messent is keen to single-out, victimise and blame. Our industry has been allowed to crumble, in preference to the low-hassle but high exploitation of people from the third world, particularly the far-east. It isn’t in the interests of our establishment to improve education standards for English working class kids, nor kick-start manufacturing, because if they did, it would mean ordinary people would expect gainful employment. Where would the jobs come from?

I think the one interesting phrase is Messent’s use of the word ‘lumpen’, if she is using one definition of the word, then she actually agrees with me that the people concerned are dispossessed or displaced, people who have been cut off from the socio-economic class with which they would ordinarily be identified. If she is using the other definition, vulgar or common, which she obviously must be, then she is being unnecessarily offensive.

Messent branded parents she doesn’t know as ‘barely-literate’and ‘idle’, she said they are people who ‘couldn’t give a damn if their children succeed at school or not’. She stereotyped them as people in ‘subsidised homes’ which sprouted ‘huge TV screens where the rest of us shelve our books’. It became ironically farcical that she then went on to label them as ‘abysmally ignorant lumps of bigotry’, which were exactly the qualities she had herself displayed throughout this ill-thought out piece of defamatory nonsense.

The Birmingham Mail has severely let itself down by publishing such discriminatory bilge. It’s unfair, biased and if any other socio-ethnic group was singled out and publicly horsewhipped in such a manner it would be condemned and Messent would be out of a job.

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