J. John, (writing in Christian Today) believes that the core issue is rejection of Christian faith, with a resulting erosion in moral values, among both the rich and the poor:
"My own diagnosis is that the nation has lost the Christian faith that, in a quiet and unnoticed way, acted as the glue that has held the British social fabric together. For two generations it has been fashionable to sneer at Christianity and to consider it unnecessary for a modern civilised society. The result has been a moral vacuum and amongst the noise of sirens and breaking glass many people heard the sound of chickens coming home to roost."On the other hand, Harriet Sergeant (writing in The Spectator) calls the rioters 'Blair's children', and attributes their destructive rampage to three factors, traced back to a failed social policies of the Blair government:
- The failure of schools. A leading symptom of failure is illiteracy: "A full 63 per cent of white working class boys, and just over half of black Caribbean boys at the age of 14 have a reading age of seven or below." Sergeant argues that educational ideology and 'wishful thinking' has taken precedence over teaching methods which actually work. Instead of structure and discipline, children have been subjected to ideologically-driven 'student-directed learning'. As one young person put it: "School shatters your dreams before you get anywhere."
- Changes in the job market. The decline in the availability of unskilled jobs has been matched by an influx of immigrants who are eager to take up what unskilled jobs do remain. The result is crippling unemployment for poorly schooled British youth.
- Degradation of family life. The British family shows signs of mortal illness: "In a recent survey 49 per cent of British parents did not know where their children were in the evenings or with whom." Britain has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Europe, while government support for single mothers has been climbing at a staggering rate: "The government have put young girls in a position where the only career open to them is to have children, whether they want to or not and regardless of whether or not they are good mothers. The state has taken over the role of both husband and father and, as it is all too clear, have failed at both."
How long could it take for a nation to turn these failures around, even if they have the will and the understanding to do so?
And what if J. John is right, and the policy failures Sergeant identifies stem from a deeper spiritual malaise, which is ultimately the rejection of faith in God, and the embracing of worldviews built on a mistaken understanding of humanity? What then does the future hold for Britain?
Are there signs that the people of the UK are ready to adopt the medicine of repentance which J. John is offering? And if not, how then will British society's leaders find their bearings in these confusing and troubled times?