02 January 2008
Two murders in one family
This is one of my parents' wedding photographs. On my father's right stand the Lilley family. Lily Hyde, my mother's cousin, had married Jack Lilley and much to everyone's amusement became the magnificently named Lily Lilley. Uncle Jack died in the late 1970s and John, their only son, emigrated to Tasmania in about 1970. I lost touch with Auntie Lily after my mother died in 1989, and it was only some years later that I found out that she was brutally murdered in her own home by two girls in 1998.
In 1986 my cousin, Edward Pither of Nelson, Lancashire, was murdered by two burglars, again in his own home. Two murders in one family are two too many.
Both murders were the responsibility of the people concerned. However, both sets of murderers are also the products of feral societies and a polity that first wanted to deliberately impoverish them, and then tried to force them into adopting a set of mores that are not theirs.
Auntie Lily was the daughter of my mother's aunt. Take a look at her and everyone else in that photo. They look confident, don't they? The men had all just emerged from the army and are wearing their demob suits. The women's dresses were all made by my mother who was a dressmaker by trade. The confidence on the adults' faces came from their belief that they were never going to have to return to the 1930s; that things were just going to get better and better for people like them.
My Uncle Jack was a dairyman. He carried big churns full of milk that had just arrived from the nearby farms into the plant where they were either pasteurised or sterilised. Then he loaded crates full of milk bottles onto his cart and set off to make his deliveries. He had a neck like a bull and arms like tree trunks.
My father was a factory labourer and his brother Albert who is standing on the right of the photo was a warehouseman. Neither of them wanted to do that work. My father tried to make a living as an artist, and Uncle Albert used his gratuity money to set up a literary journal, but neither of them had much success, so they settled down to factory labour. On the basis of that they all married, had children, paid their way in the world and lived out their lives.
And then it all went bad. The Tory aim from 1979 to 1997 was to ensure that the working class knew its place and to help ensure that, the traditional jobs were destroyed. It was the only way to reverse the post-war trend of working class improvement and to set a clear economic line between us and them.
Alas for their hopes, but working class people never learned to mind their manners. What happened was that they became feral. Petty criminality came first, then drugs, then more criminality. Labour, the act of labouring for a living, created its own social discipline. When the jobs vanished so did the social discipline.
Labour came along in 1997 and made things worse. Instead of re-industrialising Britain they introduced Thatcherism with a smiley face. Lot's of jobs were created for social workers, teachers, council managers and other assorted scum and nothing for us.
The young people complain that there is nothing to do. Reading the reports of Auntie Lily's death that theme comes up time and time again. Guess what? The kids are right: there is nothing for them to do. All the adventure playgrounds in the world will not alter the fact that a teenager should be looking forward to leaving school and choosing whether to go down a pit, stand behind a lathe or look after a machine. Thanks to government policy over the past 30 years, all a teenager has to look forward to is a life of unemployment or underemployment.
Thus we turn on each other, and that is why my aunt and cousin were killed.