Eamonn Butler’s Britain

From the Books section of Law and Liberty here a few excerpts from David Conway’s excellent analysis of Eamonn Butler’s The Rotten State of Britain.

On education: ‘Gordon Brown… instituted “Public Service Agreements”… tying budgets to… performance. In the case of education, the target was a 2 per cent annual improvement in the proportion of [15 year old] students getting five [good] grades… You get what you pay for… Today’s smart teachers drill their pupils constantly, not to improve their understanding… but to make sure they regurgitate the right answers… The international comparisons suggest that’s it’s all an institutional fraud against the public and the kids.’ [104-105]

On welfare: ‘Nearly a third of state spending… goes on various kinds of welfare benefit. After a decade of rising economic growth and prosperity… you might have thought that the need for social benefits was falling. But spending on them actually rose 50 per cent in real terms over the ten year period from 1997. [217] ‘Perhaps the most disturbing figure in the statistics is the 1 million young people aged 16-24…  not in education, employment or training… a sixth of the people in that age group and twice as many as in Germany or France.’ [220] ‘A higher proportion of British children live in workless households than anywhere in Europe. Many… will not know what it is like to have the role model of a loving, resident father… not because their parents are lazy or unwilling to get work and stick together… [but] because our social benefits system encourages them to do the exact opposite.’ [236-237]