Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Whae's Like Us ?

We have to congratulate the Scots on breaking all records - for homicide. With 134 a year in a population of five million-odd, compared with around 858 in 2001/2 for England and Wales with their 55 million population. I make that around half the rate south of the Border, at 16 per million compared to Scotland's mighty 27 per million. Is it just coincidence that Labour have held power there uninterrupted for the last forty years, creating an underclass of considerable dimensions ?

Glasgow manages a rate of 55 per million.

What's so impressive about these figures is that, despite some notorious cases, they've been achieved with little help from their ethnic minority population, who contribute nearly 20% of the homicide suspects for England and Wales (out of 2,605 homicides (table 3.6) committed over a three year period, 495 were cases where the principal suspect was described as black, Asian or 'other'). When we remember that the 'white' population will include Albanians and others from parts of Eastern Europe with a cultural bias towards violence, the native English and Welsh, while still much too murderous for my liking, are positive angels compared with the natives of the Land O'Cakes.

Still, fret ye not. New Improved Scottish Labour have a cunning plan, involving giving homicidal teenagers free housing in an unsuspecting community - sorry, involving a new strategy to "challenge the culture of violence" in Scotland.

She (Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson) said that, among other measures, Strathclyde Police's Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) would be expanded to create a national "centre of excellence" to share violence prevention best practice across Scotland.

Rolling out initiatives, sharing best practice, centre of excellence, build on the approach - bingo ! All we need is an 'evidence-based' 'homicide Czar' to 'move us forward into the new millennium' and I'll have a full set of managerial buzzwords.

Cathy Jamieson may be totally crap at actually doing anything but she's got the language off brilliantly.

I think this photograph bears a reprint.

Picture by Stephen Mansfield for the Scotsman

Scots Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson successfully launching a campaign against anti-social behaviour.


Edward said...

That'll be socialism, then...

Joe90 said...

Would you say Essex was a hotbed of socialism?

The death rates for that county reached a high equivalent of 78 per million in 1994, 51/million in 2002, and 26/million in 1993 and 1997.

Information from here:

The homicide figures from Scotland are not surprising. There is an aggressive, combative streak in Scottish culture which goes back a very long way.

Scots make up disproportionate numbers of the armed forces, and especially of elite formations such as the SAS. Glasgow was a byword for gang culture as far back as the 1920s and the time of 'No Mean City'.

This, added to a heavy drinking culture, religious sectarianism, and the aimlessness produced by the dismantling of heavy industry, hardly predicts a low homicide rate.

chris said...

So socialism is not just the product of greed (I want, I cannot afford, so I take and make you pay) it also fosters violence.

Not really suprising as less dependent on themselves and their neighbours you are also lowering the costs of being antisocial. The state will always be there blindly throwing around tax payers money, but individuals can choose not to deal with people that they have had bad dealings with before.

Joe90 said...

A very stupid mistake on my part: the Essex figues above are from the US, not England!

The high peak for murders in Essex (according to Hansard online) was 18/million in the year 2001-02, so certainly lower than Scotland. Mea culpa.

Chris and Edward have nonetheless asserted a causal link between high homicide rates and socialism.

This begs the question as to why the USA has a higher homicide rate than Britain, yet has only marginal socialist traditions. Canada has a lower homicide rate than the US, yet has a stronger social democratic (if not socialist) current.

There are also the other issues rooted in Scottish history and culture which perhaps they might get round to addressing.

Ken said...

This begs the question as to why the USA has a higher homicide rate than Britain, yet has only marginal socialist traditions.


The g-Gnome said...


As a Glaswegian, and a sometime criminal lawyer in the city and the West, Joe90 is quite near the mark when he points the finger of blame for these figures at Scottish culture. The 'aggressive, combative' streak he refers to has very ancient roots in Scottish society, for example, the extremely tendentious nature of most inter-clan relationships north of the Highland Line. The Romans knew what they were doing when built the Antonine Wall.

Although sectarianism does play a role in some homicides, almost exclusively these tend to be those perpetrated in Glasgow and the West after Old Firm games. Sectarianism is almost exclusively a Glasgow/West phenomenon, and the social cancers that are Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers feed off it for profit. A plague on both their houses.

The aimlessness caused by the dismantling of heavy industry has played a part, yes, but this is not a consequence of socialism per se. This is a function of welfarism, and can be seen wherever welfarism is widespread.

Cast your minds back to the chaos in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck. Now look at the faces in the picture Laban posted.

Think the recent riots in Paris were a bad dose of Allah versus the Frogs? Nonsense - welfarism was the cause; Allah merely provided a convenient excuse. Now look at the faces in the picture.

Now, if Hurricane Hamish came swirling up the Clyde, do you really think that the faces in that photo wouldn't be out tanning the local Asda for whatever they could get? Of course they would. Nothing to do with guns, race, sectarianism, whatever. It was welfarism that did for the Big Easy, that did for Paris and it's welfarism that's killing us. The Scottish elites, from Gordon Brown and Douglas Alexander downwards, know it and are petrified of it, and have to live with the dilemma that their positions depend on keeping the status quo in place.

The dismantling of heavy industry...that's another story. Until 1979, the United Kingdom had a purpose, and it was rooted in economics. The West of Scotland possesses a navigable river leading straight out into the Atlantic, and is awash in coal. It's a great place to build stuff, because you can keep the factories powered and ship it off in a jiffy. Then came Mrs. T's revolution, which delivered the coup de grace to heavy manufacturing after decades of free trade mania and dirigiste trade unions had resulted in us becoming 'uncompetitive', a sin apparently on a par with barratry and fratricide. Within a generation, a society was destroyed, and the most vital appurtenance of a healthy society, social mobility, had gone forever. Think the boys in that photo are going anywhere? No, because neither did their fathers, you can take it from me.

Here are some other stats to chew on. In an average city, no more than 5% of the working population should be employed in call centres. In Glasgow, it's 8%. the average gap in life expectancy between a male born in the East End of Glasgow and a male born in Dorset in 2004 is now reckoned to be 11 years, with the Weegie clocking off at 69.

Now, those figures are not all down to Irn-Bru, Buckfast and Deep Fried Mars Bar Suppers - that is endemic poverty in action, folks, amongst your fellow British citizens. The United Kingdom was always an economic entity - the role each played to the comparative advantage of the whole gave it its rationale. Think that Scottish nationalism becoming popular after the coup de grace was accidental? No chance. There is no guarantee that the United Kingdom will survive the next few years. I see and hear nothing from Conservatives such as David Cameron ever making me want to vote Tory again - and I'm a fourth generation Irish Catholic Glaswegian Tory voter. And if anyone thinks I'm exaggerating - does anyone know how things are going in the Holy Roman Empire these days? Or how the Parthians, Medes and Elamites are getting along?

The 'No Mean City' culture has been responsible for warping the self-image of generations of young Glaswegian males. Lots of people, many of whom are not Glaswegians, have made a lot of money glorifying the razor gangs of the '30's and criminals like James Boyle, Arthur Thomson, Paul Ferris and Thomas McGraw. They will all hopefully have their own wee nooks in Hell.

However, the ne plus ultra of these crime figures is alcohol abuse - specifically binge drinking. There is only one country in the world with comparable homicide stats, and some of you might be surprised to learn that it's Finland. Finland has very much more relaxed gun laws, and their homicide stats apparently aren't affected by the long winters or the easy penal regime. It's binge drinking that's the core factor.

And as binge drinking takes a grip and becomes more prevalent south of the border, one can imagine that in several decades time, the English homicide stats will look like ours at the moment. But at that point, we'll all have gambled everything away in the local super-casino, so it won't really matter to any of us.

Laban said...

"Well I've sat and listened to my father tell

Of the Clyde that he once knew

Where you either sweated for a measly wage

Or joined in the parish queue"

wrote Archie Fisher

but those people were IMHO better people than their grandchildren

(and with respect, all that 'martial race' stuff doesn't explain the violence in Scotland. 100 or 200 years ago the Lowlands were famously law-abiding. Similarly the Germans and Gurkhas managed to be pretty martial while still having safe streets. Random, undisciplined violence is a potential indicator of poor military performance - or the Somali or Congolese military would be the most feared in the world.)

The g-Gnome said...


The key is the binge drinking nd welfarism.

They seems to be the best indicators of a high rate of violent crime.

Anonymous said...

Lets face it there is nothinhg uniquely Scottish about the photo. That could have been taken anywhere in Britain. The same cheeky wee neds are to be found in every town.

dearieme said...

When I was young, douce burghs like Haddington and Dumfries accepted Glasgow "overspill" populations i.e. cleared slum-dwellers. They became less douce pretty quickly. Glasgow is much of the problem - they have an Irish-like ability at brawling, self-regard, excuse-making and sentimentalising. Consider "Where you either sweated for a measly wage": measly, my arse - the buggers were well paid and drank it all. Violent troglodytes. My own policy would be for the real Scots to expel Glasgow and preserve the Union.

Bruce (Fraser clan) said...

Oh but Scots are victims.
Its not their fault.
It's colonialism.
It's the English.
It's those Norman French, with their damn Robert De Bruis!

Joe90 said...

Dearieme: Your snobbish outburst alerts me to the presence of an Edinburgh dweller.

"You'll have had your tea then?"

Plenty of aggravation to be found on the old streets of Leith when I worked there. Not to mention in outskirts housing schemes like Craigmillar and Wester Hailes.

The g-Gnome said...


I see the charming Dearieme has lifted his eyes from his petri dishes long enough to suggest that Glaswegians are 'violent troglodytes' and not 'real Scots', whom he seems to be suggesting should be cleansed from Scotland.

I can't help but wonder how that one would go down at High Table.

Dearieme clearly has a bad case of Apoplexy Rampant amongst Scottish Emigrants, otherwise known as 'Connery's Disease' - a desire amongst those emigrants raised and educated in Scotland to trash the place, the people and its culture. As we say, such people susally have a 'good tip for themselves'. I don't think he's lived here for a very long time - and all such emigrant opinion should be viewed through that prism.

Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Ah, Scottish nutters...I remember an old pal caled Rab. The guy had 'Made In Easterhouse' actually tattooed across his forehead. The right way round as well.

Joe90 said...

Laban wrote:

"and with respect, all that 'martial race' stuff doesn't explain the violence in Scotland. 100 or 200 years ago the Lowlands were famously law-abiding."

Depends which part of the Lowlands you look at.

Two exhibits that were on display in the People's Palace museum in Glasgow Green, dating back to the early 1900s:

First, a leather collar, as worn by policemen of the time to prevent their throats being slashed.

Second, a wooden wheelbarrow, fitted with straps, to enable the police to restrain and cart drunks off to the police station.

Laban, the roots of violent behaviour in Scotland do back a long way. Many older Glaswegians I knew twenty-odd years ago, when I lived there, were full of stories of razor kings and pitched gang battles, of 'hard men', 'bears' and 'wild men'. They didn't recall these with shame either, but with enthusiasm. I've heard similar tales in Renfrewshire and Ayrshire (the latter notably involving battles at Ayrshire League matches).

These traditions don't fully account for the nature of today's youth violence, but they prepare the ground. What has changed is the threshold at which severe violence occurs.

Twenty years ago, getting jumped by people you didn't know usually meant being punched in the face, maybe knocked to the ground and kicked as well. Now it often seems to involve being stabbed or having your head stamped on repeatedly.

Where has this additional sadism come from?

The g-Gnome said...


Try binge drinking and welfarism

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed.
Are they not "engaging the community" and "working with stakeholders" too?