Who holds the trophy for the most misleading statements in an article of about 1000 words? I don’t know, but Fraser Nelson, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Good Friday, must be pretty close. The gist of his piece is that, while church attendance has declined dramatically, the country is enjoying a moral renaissance.
Mr Nelson claims, “Britain is midway through a phase of social repair.” Leave aside for a moment the question of how he knows we are “midway” through this wonderful revival – Are we nearly there yet? – and whether the alleged social repair will be completed, what evidence does Mr Nelson produce to justify his obvious cheerfulness?
First, “Some time around the turn of the century, social problems stopped growing.” But is the current epidemic of mental illness among children not a significant social problem? Is endemic bullying, so pervasive among people of all ages, that children as young as four are telephoning their distress to the NSPCC not a social problem? Then there is the other social problem of ubiquitous online abuse about which I listened to yet another broadcast documentary not ten minutes after I had finished reading Mr Nelson’s article. Has he never heard of the widespread addiction to prescription drugs? We’re not drinking as much as we used to, he says, but our towns and cities still resemble deserted battlefields in the early hours of weekend mornings. Are the prisons not stuffed to bursting and more violent and drug-ridden than ever? And we have seen a 40% rise in incidents of knife-crime over the last eight years.
None of this looks like “social repair” to me.
Secondly, Mr Nelson says, “Teenage pregnancy stands at the lowest rate since records began in 1969.” Really? But there are 200,000 abortions in Britain every year and 50,000 of these are performed on teenagers – higher than the numbers in any other member state of the EU. Is this annual cull, this relentless massacre of the innocents, not a social problem?
Thirdly, “”While Britain now has a secular culture, it’s still one marinated in Christianity, the values survive.” What values are these? Does he mean we are all still marinated in the well-known Christian values of Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Political Correctness and the New Testament virtue of homosexual marriage?
Fourthly and hilariously, Mr Nelson says, “Churches are abandoned and converted into pubs.” No they’re not. They are being converted into mosques. And the pubs are closing faster than the churches.
“Midway through a phase of social repair”?
God deliver us from the state we’ll be in when this phase has been completed.