Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister in 1868 and then again from 1874-1880, famously described Britain as:
Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor.
Increasingly, that seems to be as true now as it was then. Fraser Nelson picks up on the same point in an excellent blog over at the Spectator CoffeeHouse, writing about 'Prime Scotland' and 'Third Scotland':
Prime and Third Scotland are half a mile apart in some places, but the two nations don’t interact. Somehow along the way, we – as a country - learned to look the other way: to worry about climate change, but not the poverty just a few miles down the road. To think that the taxes Labour charge somehow promotes a more cohesive society, when in fact it’s pouring petrol on the flames. State handouts may have been the cure to post-war poverty, but it’s the cause of 21st century poverty as we see in Glasgow East.
That really gets to the heart of the issue. It is years of socialist-inspired policy that has that has created or, at the very least, accentuated these problems. Welfare handouts and punitive income taxes have robbed people of the will to work and destroyed their self-sufficiency and self-respect. State education has left generations of children unable to read or write properly, and with little ambition and even less opportunity. Poorly designed council estates have descended into crime-ridden slums, with ordinary people terrorized by gangs as the police stand idly by.
I fear it's going to take real commitment and many years of hard work to turn things around.