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THE FEAR OF CHOICE

17-02-2007

The unhappiness of Britain's kids can be directly traced to New Labour, the Prime Minister, and our refusal to say that some things are better than others reckons Mike Drayton.

Tony Blair has tried and failed to be the king of compromise and keep everyone happy. That's one of the reasons why our children are the most miserable in the world (even more miserable than American kids).

Because Blair and New Labour are scared of offending they have refused to make the moral and philosophical choices that says one thing is actually better than another.

It is a normal psychological trait to categorise and rate things. In other words if you see an object at the greengrocers you will categorise it as an apple and then see if it is better, bigger or juicier looking than the other apples.

Labour has nurtured a paranoid society where people feel uncomfortable in saying “this” (whatever it may be) is better than “that”. Instead we have to collude with the notion that all things are good.

Universities have now done away with grades for coursework so students either pass or fail, thus depriving them of feedback as to how they are doing. Now, there can be no firsts or lasts. Of course all the students know who is doing well and who is struggling but the assumption is that this knowledge is too painful to be openly talked about.

I went to buy a coffee in Starbucks last week and was asked if I wanted a large or grande sized coffee. “Oh, just a small filter coffee” I naively replied.

The woman behind the counter looked at me as if I was a simpleton and said: “The large is the smallest.”

So, large is the new small. We can't have anything small anymore..

Who, after all, wants something that's small?

So small becomes large and a cardboard bucket of coffee is a grande.

This perversion of language is endemic and typical of our society under New Labour. Of course, really, we all know that some things are better than others. In certain situations I might acknowledge that Wolverhampton Wanderers are a good Midlands team with a great history and tradition. When I'm stood in the Brummie Road end of the Hawthorns you will hear me singing, ”we are blue and white, the wolves are shite” . No sitting on the fence there. There is far more sincerity at a football match than in most other areas of life.

This culture of being frightened to prioritise some beliefs and values as being superior to others, for fear of offending, has resulted in a generation of children growing up in a vacuum of moral relativism where some ill-mannered, uneducated talentless idiot like Jade Goody is seen as admirable.

This failure to actively promote values of education, kindness, and respect for others over consumerism, celebrity and individualism has produced a generation that is confused because it lacks a sustainable belief system and guidelines that discriminate good from bad.

This culture of avoiding conflict by refusing to make choices about what we as a society think is good and bad, can be directly attributable to Blair and New Labour.

Blair has found that when you are forced to decide there will be someone who doesn't like the decision, no matter how many spin doctors you employ or how many lies you tell to confuse the issues.

For example, as far as belief systems go, I think western pluralist democracy is much better than religious belief systems such as Islam or Roman Catholicism. We forget in the west about the struggle to drag ourselves out of the barbarity, superstition and ignorance of the Middle-Ages.

Take a look at countries that are run by religious leaders and we see places where nobody in their right mind would want to live. Societies characterised by fear and censorship; by beheadings, people being stoned to death and contraception and abortion made illegal. That's why a secular democracy is infinitely superior to a society organised on, say, Muslim beliefs.

I know it's a difficult thing to say in public, but some things are infinitely better than others.

Dr Mike Drayton is a psychologist at Opus Psychology in Birmingham www.opuspsychology.com

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