Shaun Bailey, and hating the young

I already dealt with this on twitter, but I thought I’d hammer home the point.

Mr Bailey, who was paid a salary of £60,000 to advise the Prime Minister on youth, crime and race issues, is the first insider to raise concerns about the elite backgrounds of those in the inner core of No 10.

His appointment after the 2010 general election was lauded as a sign of the inclusive nature of Mr Cameron’s office, a view which took on particular importance after the summer riots of 2011.

However, in January he was moved quietly to the Cabinet Office, becoming the Government’s “youth and engagement champion”. His appointment to the new position was not publicly announced.

Mr Bailey is being paid substantially less for this part-time role — £36,000 a year — and is only on a one-year contract. He does not have his own desk or office, but a source in the Cabinet Office insisted that if he needed a seat he would be “accommodated”. Last night, it was unclear what exactly Mr Bailey’s new role involves.

Note that it’s possible to at once be an adviser on “youth”, “crime”, and “race”, as if there was no distinction between the categories. To be black is to be a criminal; to be young is to be a criminal; to be young is also, syllogistically, to be black. Don’t ask me, ask David Starkey, of course.

This reminds me a bit of a walk I took down the south side of the Thames through Docklands not so long ago. Even the best buildings, it struck me, were characterised by one thing. At eye level, the first thing you see is always a chunk of security hardware, fencing, cameras, locks. It was much observed at the time that paranoia was a big part of the ethos. David Cameron is the most old-fashioned yuppie-ish of prime ministers, and I think you can make a case that he’s still haunted by the prospect of undifferentiated street-arabs massing to knifecrime him.

But then. When we look at our enemies we also see ourselves. I think this post of mine responding to Starkey holds up quite well, in which I argued that hating the young had become a sort of acceptable version of racism, and that some of the disadvantages imposed on them were such that we would immediately recognise them as such if being young was a race.

Perhaps the prime minister does need a new youth, crime, and race adviser, then. The previous incumbent offers us a valuable lesson:

“Shaun believes that the bottom line is that him being of a different class is probably equally, if not more, important than him being black”

But the more important point is that the rest of us need a new prime minister.

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