Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities

It was revealed today that Margaret Thatcher was advised to abandon Liverpool to “managed decline” by Geoffrey Howe in 1981; Gavin Knight looks at her legacy.

 

By Gavin Knight

It was revealed today that Margaret Thatcher was advised to abandon Liverpool to “managed decline” by her chancellor, Geoffrey Howe, in the wake of the Toxteth riots of 1981.


In his memo to the cabinet he is quoted as saying:

“We must not expend all our limited resources in trying to make water flow uphill.”

Thirty years on, in the wake of similar riots, residents of UK inner cities feel rising anger they have been abandoned.

It’s as if the policy of the last 30 years were implemented on Howe’s advice.

I spent two years researching life in the deprived inner city areas of Manchester, Glasgow and London for my non-fiction book ‘Hood Rat’ (published July 2011) and spoke to young people, youth workers, social workers, and residents as well as spending time with frontline police units in Moss Side, the East End of Glasgow and deprived parts of London.

They told me they had been abandoned by politicians, the media, and social infrastructure and were left to forge their own violent alternative world.

Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy meant upwardly mobile residents could leave estates; while the collapse of manufacturing in favour of a service-based economy meant the heart was torn out of many communities.

As Owen Jones points out in CHAVS, you can’t build a community around call-centre and supermarket jobs. In Glasgow I spoke to former welders and platers from Clydebank whose offspring were now struggling to find jobs in the fitting room at TK-Max in the retail parks that replaced the steelworks in places like Park Head.

In the vacuum left behind only one thriving, entrepreneurial business presents the younger generation with opportunities to make cash: the UK’s £4.5 billion drug trade. It has a dynamic recruitment structure, cash incentives and training programmes all in place.

The results of this “managed decline” are that government has effectively retreated from these areas and the residents feel completely disenfranchised.

The result is simmering violence and resentment.

Steven Pinker, in his recent book, says the most violent places are ones where no form of government exists: failed states, drug cartel territories. British inner cities are increasingly violent places to live for the same reason: they have been abandoned by successive governments.

In Easterhouse in Glasgow one 13-year-old was given a machete by his own mother on his 13th birthday. When Karyn McCluskey, the co-director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, arrived in Glasgow there were 170 gangs with 3,500 members aged 11 to 23. Trauma doctors handled one facial injury every six hours and 70% of the violence went unreported.

I spoke to charming, baby-faced teenagers who talked about the pitched battles with machetes they had every Saturday like it was a weekend football game. I also went out with the cops in B Division in Shettleston who were weary of chasing gang members through the parks.

Shettleston is one of the most deprived wards in the UK. Life expectancy for a man is 14 years below the national average and the same as Baghdad or the Palestinian territories.

In Southall, London, I talked to a 14-year-old, former child soldier from Somalia, whose gun-toting skills were in great demand amongst the local elders, looking to enforce the drug trade. Southall also saw riots 30 years ago. Now it’s the cheapest place to buy heroin in the UK.

Three hundred and fifty thousand kids grow up with drug-addicted parents. I spoke to one mother, an aspirational middle class woman whose young son was killed in broad daylight by a drug addict out on bail.

There is a shocking human cost to the decline and abandonment of UK inner cities; we read far too many stories of teenagers, even children, being killed or killing each other in our forgotten inner cities. In Liverpool, 11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot by an 18 year old in August 2007 on the Croxteth Park Estate.

In recent weeks we’ve heard of a brazen stabbing of a teenager amid Oxford Street Christmas shoppers and the shooting of a Salford student, allegedly by teenage gunmen.

The newly revealed memos of Thatcher’s cabinet show they grudgingly pledged £10 million to regenerate Liverpool. The Tory coalition’s latest gangs report, published in the wake of the August riots, also pledges £10m. For that amount the coalition ambitiously promise to turn around 120,000 dysfunctional families by the end of Parliament. That’s £83 per family.

The third sector is key to the Tories’ regeneration strategy: mentoring and early years interventions are both highlighted as policies that Ian Duncan Smith has championed for some time at the Centre for Social Justice. The key issue around these policies is a question that lies at the heart of the Tories’ localism agenda: without the dynamic individuals to run the programmes, can they be replicated countrywide, in all inner cities ?

The flagship early years nursery in Castlemilk, Glasgow, the Jeely Piece Club, is a testament to 35 years’ work of exceptional individuals. Will similarly dynamic individuals be able to replicate it in other deprived parts of Glasgow like Easterhouse, Shettleston, Barrowfield and Mary Hill?

Similarly, Cameron and IDS have often praised the CIRV anti-gang model used by Strathclyde Police, but its success is largely the result of the extraordinary drive of the co-directors of the Violence Reduction Unit, Karyn McCluskey and Detective Superindendent John Carnochan. The model was piloted in Manchester and some London boroughs but fizzled out.

One thing I heard time and time again was that nothing saves a young person from a downward spiral into gang crime more than a stable job. There is also a proposal that the chancellor, George Osborne, will follow Michael Heseltine’s example and create enterprise zones to regenerate deprived areas.

The Work Foundation argues that enterprise zones do not work, they are gimmicks and already-deprived areas will not escape their cycle of deprivation.

They advocate that government should focus on:

The long-term drivers of economic growth: innovation, trade, skills, infrastructure and entrepreneurship. The recovery will be led by innovation, with a small proportion of high growth firms producing the majority of all jobs.

There is an enormous human cost to abandoning our deprived inner cities; government needs to find a way to regenerate these areas, ideally through stimulating small and medium-sized entreprises.

With soaring youth unemployment it also needs to re-engage the disenfranchised, disaffected youth who live there and help them back into education and training. This needs a proactive, inventive youth policy.

Sending vulnerable youngsters into lengthy custodial sentences at critical turning points in their lives is not the way forward. The young people who I spoke to all believed they have been not just been abandoned by politicians, but criminalised for being young.

See also:

Unemployment: How Cameron and Clegg are letting the next generation downRachel Reeves MP and Stephen Timms MP, December 14th 2011

Thatcher was every bit as bad as we rememberKevin Meagher, November 26th 2011

Everything you know about the ‘Thatcherite consensus’ is wrongStewart Lansley, October 6th 2011

A crowd psychology analysis of the riotsDr Clifford Stott, August 9th 2011

Enterprise Zones are the dusting down of a failed Thatcherite policyTony Burke, July 29th 2011

36 Responses to “Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities”

  1. Nick Leaton

    Look at the money pumped in. 2,000 pounds a year per ‘chav’ for free health care. Free schooling at 6,000 a year for the sprogs. Say 4,000 a year rising to 102,000 a year in housing benefits. Then other benefits on top. For year after year after year. 83 quid is peanuts. It’s the other money that’s the problem.

    Lots of poor buggers on minimum wage are paying 2,500 a year in taxes for this. It’s not all paid for by the rich or the middle class [Vast amounts are on debts that are falling due]

    needs to re-engage the disenfranchised, disaffected youth who live there and help them back into education and training.

    We’ve paid nearly 100K over 14 years to get them educated. What makes you think they have any intention of learning anything? They didn’t over the 14 years they were in the schools system.

    The long-term drivers of economic growth: innovation, trade, skills, infrastructure and entrepreneurship. The recovery will be led by innovation, with a small proportion of high growth firms producing the majority of all jobs.

    Yep. Notice who is missing. Government is pretty much out of it. Infrastructure as far as the government goes is more debt. ie. HS2’s debt payments will be more than the ticket receipts. It’s a negative return.

    Notice too that the small numbers will offshore if you go after them. If you start more of your 1984 hate campaigns, they will get the message. There are strong rumours that Barclays has got the message. Its off to New York. So we’re going to lose a lot of tax revenue, either from jobs or from corporate profits. Not going to come back. So more cuts, more tax rises, and more debts as a result.

    There is also a proposal that the chancellor, George Osborne, will follow Michael Heseltine’s example and create enterprise zones to regenerate deprived areas.

    And where’s the money going to come from? That means cutting taxes in these areas. If you haven’t forgotten, you spent it all. There is none left. Just 7,000 bn of debts.

    I spoke to one mother, an aspirational middle class woman whose young son was killed in broad daylight by a drug addict out on bail.

    Compare this with.

    Sending vulnerable youngsters into lengthy custodial sentences at critical turning points in their lives is not the way forward.

    Yes it is, if we look at that young son killed by someone who should be locked up.

    Here’s the deal. Drug addict. It’s off to a Scottish island to live in a tent for a year. No drugs, no problem with security. Sentence is reduced if you shop your dealer and they are convicted

    Then for the dealer, its 10 years in jail. Reduced if you shop your supplier and they are convicted

    Reverse ponzi.

    Now where are the jobs going to come from?

    1. Stop low skilled migration.
    2. Clamp down on illegal migration. Employer’s get let off if they take someone off benefits for a year.
    3. Stop spending so much.
    4. Tax cuts, not for spending, but tax cuts on investments. That means lots of cash for companies to grow and make things.
    5. Cut regulation – massive costs.
    6. The state gets out of pension provision. [Just safety nets]
    7. Everyone has to save for their retirement. Lots of cash for investment
    8. One simple change in regulation. Cap costs on pension funds. Allow free transfers.
    9. Referendum is required if pension funds are to be taxed. [Prevents governments stealing them]

    That will fix it, but governments won’t do it. They are addicted to spending other people’s money – badly.

  2. Mr. Sensible

    This wasn’t exactly the last ‘Liverpool Problem’ Thatcher had was it…

  3. Mr. Sensible

    Well where to begin with all that rightwing rhetoric… For a start, these banks got us in to this mess, so they needn’t think they’re special…

  4. eileen

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/adsej3Iq by @GavinKnightHood

  5. Mark C

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/5LBF2N7J by @GavinKnightHood

  6. Ell Aitch

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/adsej3Iq by @GavinKnightHood

  7. Lynn Sheridan

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/sQkJZa5M by @GavinKnightHood

  8. TheCreativeCrip

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/sQkJZa5M by @GavinKnightHood

  9. Kris Adrian

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/sQkJZa5M by @GavinKnightHood

  10. Scott Houston

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities http://t.co/wcIdAsAe

  11. Knut Cayce

    RT @leftfootfwd: Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities http://t.co/aBbXp3FL

  12. David Phillip98

    This is a very poor article. Thatcher’s toxic legacy is the belief that as long I am filling my pockets everything is ok. Unemployment and poverty do not mean immorality, greed and arrogance do.
    Gavin Knight’s book “hood rats” is a work of fiction which he tries to sell as fact. He has a financial interest in promoting the distorted view of working-class people that we see expressed here.

  13. Roger McKenzie

    RT @leftfootfwd Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/ve1ptwTn by @GavinKnightHood

  14. Gavin Knight

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/sQkJZa5M by @GavinKnightHood

  15. Michael

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities I Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/8rdiAlkZ

  16. Union

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities I Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/8rdiAlkZ

  17. Brigitte

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/5LBF2N7J by @GavinKnightHood

  18. Andrew Johnston

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/adsej3Iq by @GavinKnightHood

  19. Jill Hayward

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities I Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/8rdiAlkZ

  20. Jennifer Jones

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  21. Rosa

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  22. Anonymous

    rubbish mate dream land…..

  23. Janet Graham

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/adsej3Iq by @GavinKnightHood

  24. Kaite

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities http://t.co/ya5T0k6K via @zite

  25. Andrew Roberts

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities http://t.co/ya5T0k6K via @zite

  26. Mr Roshan

    Nick Leaton gives you the sense of reality that the left truly ignore when they engage in hysteria.

    Your article is a great case of what I define as ‘flatus inhalation’ – i.e. when you love the gas content from your backside so much you inhale it.

    It starts off, ‘It was revealed today that Margaret Thatcher was advised to abandon Liverpool to “managed decline” by her chancellor, Geoffrey Howe, in the wake of the Toxteth riots of 1981.’

    You omit the fact she ignored his advice, which is ‘sort of’ important.

    It continues: ‘I spent two years researching life in the deprived inner city areas of Manchester, Glasgow and London for my non-fiction book ‘Hood Rat’ (published July 2011) and spoke to young people, youth workers, social workers, and residents’.

    This is unfortunately non-scientific and no doubt you had a preconceived opinion anyway. You preface your article with the ‘inner city riots’ (really mass lawlessness), yet fail to mention that the AVERAGE number of convictions of those caught was FIFTEEN.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8764809/London-rioters-had-average-15-previous-offences-figures-show.html

    I stress ‘those caught’ because the police were told to stand down early on, and many better thieves with probably more experience and more crimes got away.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2024412/London-riots-Police-soft-looters-ordered-stand-observe.html

    The illogical left then presuppose that this is ‘evidence’ that jail does not work, when actually it is evidence that sentences are too light and jails are not austere enough, although I guess this is the closest the left will get to being correct on the riots.
    You then state, ‘Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy meant upwardly mobile residents could leave estates; while the collapse of manufacturing in favour of a service-based economy meant the heart was torn out of many communities.’.

    Manufacturing was collapsing before Margaret Thatcher and in fact collapsed more under the ensuing Labour governments:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1232897/Manufacturing-decline-Labour-greater-Margaret-Thatcher.html
    No doubt, the likely reason being the government’s stupidity in bankrupting it’s youth through expensive pointless degrees, regulations (partly fed through unionisation and socialised labour) which have pushed up costs and made it cheaper for such industries to go the China – all supported in complete ignorance by the left.

    You continue: ‘As Owen Jones points out in CHAVS, you can’t build a community around call-centre and supermarket jobs. In Glasgow I spoke to former welders and platers from Clydebank whose offspring were now struggling to find jobs in the fitting room at TK-Max in the retail parks that replaced the steelworks in places like Park Head.
    In the vacuum left behind only one thriving, entrepreneurial business presents the younger generation with opportunities to make cash: the UK’s £4.5 billion drug trade. It has a dynamic recruitment structure, cash incentives and training programmes all in place.’
    Once again, you miss the entire point. We created jobs here under Labour – almost 2 million of them, but where did they go? To cheap labour from overseas:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1325013/Migrants-took-9-10-jobs-created-Labour.html

    Again – a policy completed supported by the left that kills the ‘working class’. Again another fact which the left ignores or just ‘overturns’ by interviewing some social worker.
    Now, with regards to drugs, I invite you to visit the Peter Hitchens blog:
    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/drugs/
    where he documents in meticulous detail how police and the law turn a blind eye to drug use – so in effect incentivising it, or failing to de-incentivise it. Again, this is a policy supported by the left that kills the poor.
    You state: ‘Steven Pinker, in his recent book, says the most violent places are ones where no form of government exists: failed states, drug cartel territories. British inner cities are increasingly violent places to live for the same reason: they have been abandoned by successive governments.’
    On the contrary, the inner city poorer areas (we have no poverty here) are beset by welfare dependency, lax policing (violence and drugs), fatherless families incentivized by the state (with proven statistical evidence that such offspring are more likely to live worse lives than otherwise is the case) amongst others – all supported by the left. So, rather, it is not absence of government, but the effect of government.
    You then continue with the strawman:
    ‘Shettleston is one of the most deprived wards in the UK. Life expectancy for a man is 14 years below the national average and the same as Baghdad or the Palestinian territories.’
    A bit like the sink estates in Glasgow where people get free money, free education, free housing, free methadone and are dying of self inflicted diseases. Why? Because welfarism kills, but you fail to see this point:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/mar/31/is-britain-broken
    So again, you conflate the effects of government with there being an absence of government which is clearly not the case.

    You then conclude that the solution is more government – when it has been demonstrated clearly by this post and others that government is the cause. The fallacy of your crime ideas has been well proven. I hope that through reading this, you may consider your opinions more carefully in the future.

    As for solutions, I would say (general points):
    1) Out of the EU
    2) Stop unskilled migration
    3) End minimum wage
    4) Reduce welfare
    5) Build more AUSTERE prisons
    6) Lengthen sentences and consider a ‘3 strike rule’
    7) Harsher penalties for drug use and possession
    8) Get government out of industry
    p.s. The left’s favourite city – Liverpool (ironically where none of the left wing elites actually live) was ruined by militant trade-unionism and left wingism – how ironic.

  27. Mr Roshan

    #Leftwing bile on #Thatcher and inner city 'poverty' meets reality. #leftwingfallacies #socialism #welfare http://t.co/WCwEljv6

  28. Oliver

    Much cheaper to send in the army and cleanse the whole area, what-what? I doubt there are enough Scottish islands for every drug addict, and the locals might object, and all those armed guards and patrol ships to stop the buggers coming back cost even more. You need to dump your namby-pamby left-wing rhetoric and get down to brass tacks and bayonets!!!

  29. Cel

    Back to the Victorian era when there was no crime whatsoever and everyone lived in peace and hard-working prosperity. Just like in those Mr Dickens programmes on the telly. A grand program, sir, I salute you.

  30. Damien Short

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/adsej3Iq by @GavinKnightHood

  31. Noxi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/QuiC1FZy…by @GavinKnightHood

  32. Brnch Sec Ruth H

    “@leftfootfwd: Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/rmWFaXGB by @GavinKnightHood”> v moving – youth betrayed

  33. Ronnie Draper

    Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/adsej3Iq by @GavinKnightHood

  34. tirmit

    RT @RonniebfawuRT @leftfootfwd: Thatcher’s corrosive legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/bec3wJUH by @GavinKnightHood

  35. Intravenus De Milo

    RT @MarkAshberry: RT @leftfootfwd: Thatcher’s legacy: The UK’s abandoned inner cities: http://t.co/cqIeH1GQ <~ slight misrepresentation

  36. BenM_Kent

    Love it!

    How do you sort out a flailing economy?

    According to Nick Leaton – “3. Stop Spending So Much!”

    Hahahaha!

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