Dear Neighbours

Danielle Stark, the nubile enfant terrible of BBC1's Neighbours, has just been expelled from school after refusing to admit that she had run a profitable trade in taking the blame for schoolmates' misdemeanours

So, Danielle's commercial "Blaming Agency" has collapsed in a heap of self-righteousness and bowdlerised Aussie vituperation aimed at you.

But Danielle do not despair. You may have unwittingly set a great international example. In your adamant refusal to renege on your contracts to protect school bullies and other unsavoury youngsters, you had a quiet dignity that was truly attractive. And by offering to contract out taking responsibility for things you pinpointed something deeply amiss in our culture.

No one wants to take responsibility for anything, they just want to blame others. You were cocking a confident snook at the whole sick culture of blame in which we live.

The "Blame Game" seems to be as much the true national sport in your country as it is here in Britain. One of your fellow characters in Neighbours, Julie Martin, is such an accomplished blamer that she would be beaten up daily if she were a schoolgirl. Soap operas in general are a great arena for moralising and blaming, judging and opining.

The culture of blame first, think later is strongest in our Parliament. How frequently, if ever, has anyone heard a British politician admit: "It was my fault, I admit it, I own up, I take responsibility." Sir Nicholas Scott, the unfortunate former minister for the disabled, just appears to be the latest in a long list of Tory politicians who seem to find it difficult to take responsibility for their actions.

Yet it is not just a Tory disease. The Labour Party loves to blame everything on the Tories, as if they as politicians have no responsibility whatsoever for the state of the country. The news media would be lost without their "guilty men" to anoint, just as football fans would not know where to turn without blaming poor results on the manager of their team.

Life is irritatingly complex and people love to have it simplified for them with a nice big scapegoat, especially if the person has been rich or famous. Kids love to blame their parents for the way they have been brought up. The villain does not even have to be animate. What do they say in elections? "Poor turnout blamed on weather."

This culture of kneejerk blame is pretty stupid. There aren't many events where responsibility for the whole thing can be pinned on one person. We scatter blame so freely because we want quick, easy solutions.

We do not like to admit to taking our share of responsibility when everyone else is trying to get away with it. So if you are looking for work after your problems at Neighbours I cannot do better than suggest you take a trip to the House of Commons and offer your services to the long list of MPs who no doubt would be all to eager to take advantage of a "Blame Agency".

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