If our current levels of immigration really do make it necessary, as the authorities tell us, to build the equivalent of "50 Lutons'', they could probably reverse the trend by distributing Francis Gilbert's latest study of the Brits at their worst.
By page 50, I was already debating whether Canada or Australia would be preferable as I sought asylum from the chays.
Having taught in Britain's war-torn education system, Gilbert knows a thing or two about the way the British have "disimproved", as my Irish relatives say every time they are unfortunate enough to encounter Brits abroad.
Gilbert starts the book with a violent assault on an East London bus, in which he sustained a bloody nose and received little sympathy from his fellow passengers.
Through talking to police officers and the thugs themselves, Gilbert alludes to the seemingly lethal cocktail of white yob culture mixed with its Caribbean counterpart, which views the ritual humiliation and violence of mugging as more enjoyable than the financial reward.
Outside of the capital, the ethnic roles are reversed, with horrific bullying meted out to asylum seekers in Glasgow and a Chinese waiter in Salford. The locals are always dressed in the low-life uniform of white trainers, baseball caps and hooded tops. They are called Neds in Glasgow, scathes in Manchester and chays in London, but they are essentially the same: ill-educated, violent, amoral and everywhere.
Perhaps most depressing are the forays into south Wales, mainly in a smalltown council estate ruined and emptied by the council's decision to house the town's bad apples in with the rest of the community.
More insightful still are the trips to binge towns such as Cardiff, Newport and Bristol, victims of the alcohol industry's control over successive governments. Town planners thought they found the perfect regeneration concept when they turned old industrial hubs into gigantic "drinking factories", and the end result is there for all to see. Violent crime has risen 10-fold since 1979, and even a small town like Newport has to deal with 40 drink-related violent hospitalisations every Friday night — each costing £1,000 to the taxpayer.Where Gilbert walks on tenuous ground is in comparing today's yobbery with that of our ancestors, even the Anglo-Saxons, who apparently had swear-offs similar to the way working-class children in London "cuss" each other today. Likewise with the Armed Forces or politics.
Tempting as it is to blame Alistair Campbell for all our ills, Gilbert is wrong to make a link between his behaviour and the decline of British civilisation. Nor can he cite the Army's initiation ceremonies or our imperial past for proof that we are yobbish by nature. These things always existed in certain, ultra-macho areas of life; what has changed is that they have become public and universal.
What is striking about this study is that, though Gilbert unwittingly stumbles on the glaringly obvious cause at one stage, he does not see a correlation between the decline of the churches and the rise of yob culture. He meets an ageing Welsh miner who compares his impoverished childhood in the care of the Methodist community, with the spoilt. cultureless brats of 2006, who have no ambition except to get drunk and provoke a fight. Gilbert is keen to tackle the drinks industry but seems to be unaware of who won that battle the first time around.
Gilbert sounds weak and New Labourish when looking at solutions, calling for a change in cultural attitude and "educating" bad parents, while he falls into the yob trap of believing that all this terror comes from "a lack of facilities and social care", as if it were the Government's responsibility to raise and entertain children. But whether one agrees or not, Gilbert is excellent at bringing to life the modern-day Gin Lane.
To quote Gilbert's least favourite yob newspaper, the Sun, can the last one to leave the country please turn out the lights?