Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 7 April 2013

I love it when a plan backfires!

And it all looked so good on paper - a teenage crime tsar to bring policing right up to date and show that young people have a stake in society; Kent PCC Ann Barnes must have thought she had a sure-fire PR triumph on her hands.

Instead, she's landed with a year's bill for £15,000 - which will keep 17-year-old Paris Brown in rather more style than many hard-working adults - unless the girl can be persuaded to step down.

And that's not looking likely at the moment; Miss Brown has learned the lesson of 21st century media practice and has made a tearful public apology on camera so, in what is fast becoming a national tradition, she clearly feels free to carry on in the position she so dramatically disgraced.

The apology itself was a striking demonstration of the attitude engendered by modern educational theory with its incessant praise regardless of results and its focus on feelings rather than rational thought; the media, she said, had misinterpreted her words:
"...If I’m guilty of anything it’s showing off and wildly exaggerating on Twitter and I am very ashamed of myself."
Note that 'if' - by dismissing any suggestion of racism or homophobia and denying that her tweets referred to drugs, she has essentially ducked the blame completely; her public declaration of how she feels completes the winning formula.

In fact she is the victim here. To accuse her of politically incorrect opinions is clearly a hostile and subjective interpretation of her innocent words:
"I deeply apologise for any offence caused by my use of inappropriate language and for any inference of inappropriate views."
Sincere? Maybe, but you have to admit that's a suspiciously well-constructed bit of sophistry for a 17-year-old apprentice who, only a few days ago, was expressing herself in these erudite terms:
"Been drinking since half 1 and riding baby walkers down the hall at work oh my god i have the best job ever haha!!"
And therein lies the problem. Because it's difficult to see what exactly Miss Brown can bring to the table that justifies the salary she's being paid if that is how she behaves - and thinks - at work. Never mind the accusations of racism and the rest; it looks as if she is likely to be a bit rubbish at the job.

I don't want to join the media witch-hunt, which has been a far from edifying spectacle; my point is that almost any youngster barely turned 17 is bound to make a mess of something like this through lack of experience and maturity - I know I would have done.

Since Vance Packard first alerted the world to 'pester power', children have been adopting an increasingly central role in decision-making within Western families until they effectively hold the purse-strings. New Labour deliberately brought this trend into public life by repeatedly harping on about young people - or, in Blairspeak, 'yungpeeple', eliding it into a talismanic catchword to be wheeled out on every possible occasion.

And the young swallowed hook, line and sinker this politically expedient idea of their own importance. I'm sure that Paris Brown, really does believe that she is worth her hire and should stay in her post for a full year before going on to greater things. In fact she perfectly sums up a growing trend in Britain.

Given her reaction to this situation, I think it is virtually certain that she will eventually go on to join the ever-expanding army of public-sector workers promoted well beyond their competence but blissfully unaware of their own limitations.


  1. "Kent PCC Ann Barnes must have thought she had a sure-fire PR triumph on her hands"

    Which makes one wonder about her abilities too. Diving straight into a PR stunt like this is probably not what the good people of Kent were hoping for.

  2. AKH, PR stunt is right - she has certainly hitched her wagon publicly to Paris Brown's star. From her official website:

    'This will be a hands on role and I’ll be relying on Paris to guide my Office on how we can deliver a better service for all young people in the county and tackle youth offending.’

  3. My kids 'hold the purse strings' over my dead body the little sods!

  4. I think I know what Paris'll grow up into:


  5. For those of us who remember the earliest editions of "Viz" who might have thought it was being prophetic?

  6. Ah yes - her. Just posted on it. Best I say nothing more. Love your title though.

  7. Thud, according to a recent survey, that puts you very much in the minority:


    Julia, a grim prospect; let's give her the benefit of the doubt instead and hope this experience has knocked some sense and self-respect into her head.

    Demetrius, I have a horrible feeling I know what you are thinking of; that hairstyle is rather distinctive...

    JH, thanks!

  8. And remember, God help us, that "kids" like her will be voting in the Scottish "indendence" referendum, thanks to the egregious Salmond.

    But despair is a sin.

  9. WY, that is a truly dispiriting thought, particularly combined with the antics of the juvenile crowd in Glasgow celebrating the death of a woman who was out of politics before they were out of nappies.