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Yoofism is no answer to the riots

Very good piece by my fellow Municipal Journal contributor Claire Fox on the notion that councils spending more money on "youth engagement" would be an effective response to last month's riots.

She says:

From mandatory 'pupil voice' policies in schools, to shadow youth councils, never in history have the young been so 'listened to' or consulted.

If adults fawn over young people's views it can backfire. Teachers may wonder why they have problems of discipline in the classroom, but when student councils in schools are routinely asked to interview perspective staff or to critique their teachers' pedagogic skills, is it surprising that the authority of educators is waning?

Many of us were horrified at how young looters seemed indifferent to the local communities in which they live and only interested in their own self gratification.

She adds:

On those endless televison and radio programmes dissecting the disturbances, anyone under 20 was given special, revered status by adult presenters who hung on their every word.

But listening to a litany of clichéd complaints about lack of jobs, council cuts in youth services and so on, it became apparent that this is a generation reared on the rhetoric of blame and self-pitying victimhood.

Conversely, it was striking how cowed the adults on these shows were, defensive about correcting wild claims or arguing back. Few were prepared to face down the youthful complainants, to point out for example that Enfield LBC has not cut youth services or that Southwark LBC had just recently launched a multimillion-pound youth fund, yet they both still suffered nights of rioting.

What a relief. A voice of sanity.

By the way I was never in favour of yoofism even when I was young. As a 20-year-old I went (along with John Bercow) on behalf of the Federation of Conservative Students to lobby Ministers (Tim Eggar at the Foreign Office and Bob Dunn at the Department of Education) to stop providing taxpayers money to the egregious British Youth Council. When Peter Mandelson was Director of the BYC they attended a Soviet sponsored youth conference in Cuba.

Anyway, I'm afraid the lobbying wasn't very successful (instead of the BYC being closed down the FCS was.)

The British Youth Council continues to exist as an obscure talking shop making the preposterous claim to be the "voice" of  Britain's youth. Tim Loughton seems to be spending our money on them like a drunken sailor. Should I go along with Bercow to lobby him about it?


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