Monday, November 24, 2008


I hope I'm not picking on Natalie Bennett, but she does come out with some shockers ...

"Astonished to read that people spend £1,000 a year on energy. Okay I have a reasonably small flat, and I try, but my electricity comes to about £10 a month and gas about £15 in winter"
People have families, Natalie - and houses, not flats, to put them in. Flats are more efficient at retaining heat, as the roofs and floors of one flat are the floors and roofs of the flats above and below - minimising heat loss. The last time I filled the oil tank (admittedly two months back at the price peak, alas) it set me back £1,000 - and I imagine the electricity comes to another £450 a year. And we burn wood. And coal. Many of us have more to lose if the planet goes pearshaped than you do - in the form of our kids.

It's not as if we just wap up the thermostat and wander around in shorts - in fact I'm the energy ogre, castigating the kids for their sins against a non-renewable resource and my wallet and telling them to get a pullover on. But there are six of us in the house and we live in more than one room.

Somehow it all tangentially relates to this old BBC story, brought to my attention by a correspondent.

There are more unmarried mothers in the prosperous Kent town of Tunbridge Wells than in the poor London borough of Tower Hamlets, a survey has shown.

It found 33% of babies were born outside marriage in Tunbridge Wells in 2002, and 21% in Tower Hamlets.

The study was compiled by the Economist magazine, based on figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Researchers said the countryside could no longer be seen as the bedrock of traditional family values.

In the Kent town, many unmarried couples have families together, while in inner London young people of south Asian origin are traditionally expected to be married.

Well, yes and no. The countryside can still be seen as the bedrock of traditional British family values, if somewhat friable and crumbly bedrock. I'll lay that there are fewer "babies born outside marriage" - i.e. bastards, in Cirencester or Down Ampney than in Bradley Stoke or Penhill. What our BBC chappie is contrasting them with are traditional Bangladeshi family values.

Childbirth outside marriage is low among groups including Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and black Africans, according to the research.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Hannan, director of Tower Hamlets Parents Centre, said marriage was a holy institution to the Bangladeshi culture and it was rare to find an unmarried Bangladeshi mother.

"The family structure is very important. There is a father who is the head of the family, most mothers are housewives and they have lots of children," he said.

"Young people brought up here are influenced by western modern culture. Even so, parents expect their sons and daughters to be married."

Almost half of Tower Hamlets' population were from ethnic minority groups and one-third was Bangladeshi, according to the 2001 Census.

This compares with Tunbridge Wells where white people made up almost 98% of the population.
This is the country I visited four years ago, when I noted that Swinging London had the lowest bastardy rates ("the large Asian and African (though not Caribbean) immigrant communities frown on illegitimacy") and the hideously white Wales and the North-East the highest.

Let's just listen to the words of Dr Hannan again, shall we ?

"Dr Muhammad Abdul Hannan, director of Tower Hamlets Parents Centre, said marriage was a holy institution to the Bangladeshi culture"

He means it's a "holy estate" which is "ordained by God".

"and it was rare to find an unmarried Bangladeshi mother"

It was rare to find an unmarried British mother, too, until thirty or forty years ago, despite the unreliable contraception and unavailable abortion of those days.

"There is a father who is the head of the family, most mothers are housewives and they have lots of children"

We used to be like that :

"There was Mummy Woodentop and the baby and Daddy Woodentop.

And then there were Willie and Jenny, the twins. And Mrs Scrubit who comes to help Mummy. And Sam who helps Daddy Woodentop. And last of all, the very biggest spotty dog you ever did see"
Now "we" are more like Natalie, except that she, as a good Green, would (rightly IMHO) never see marriage as "a luxury to splash out on when there was enough money for a big celebration". (I wonder if there's still a Mrs Scrubbit though - most lefty two-earner families have a cleaner. What happened to the Dignity of Labour, as I ask Susan when she's cleaning the shower ?).

At which point the good Doctor Hannan might well ask, in the immortal words of Tonto, "Who's we, paleface ?"

And he'd be right. Thanks to a strange mix of feminist/leftist synergy - no babies and no borders - with capitalist consumerism (babies as an expense and burden, marriage as a big party) the way is clear for London to become less like England (admittedly that's not saying much) and more like Bangladesh.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Today's, (24/11,) Telegraph has an article about forced marriages in the UK. 90% of cases that come to the attention of the authorities involve either Pakistani or Bangladeshi girls. I would rather have unwed teens than a 'culture' that sentences teenage girls to a lifetime of rape any day of the week.