Why Telegraph writer Graeme Archer will not be missed by Hackney

Since the riots, it seems that freelance writer and blogger for Conservativehome Graeme Archer has decided it’s time to leave Hackney.

Boldly stating in a column for the Telegraph that “empathy has fled the inner city”, he is now escaping the “repellent antisocial behavior” and “inhuman” occupants he claims populate the borough.

Yet despite proudly declaring his exit with this fanfare of a comment piece, Archer’s move will be quite inconsequential. Indeed, as one Antony Painter, Governor of Hackney Community College and Hackney UTC, blogged, with not a hint of sarcasm; ‘Fair enough…Graeme, we’ll be sorry to lose you.”

And that’s as fine a farewell as Archer can expect, as he joins the ranks of mid-40 year olds leaving the inner city for a slightly bigger house in the suburbs near a successful secondary (dare I say private…) school to send their children.

Has empathy fled the inner city? Of course not, as Painter points out “it has it in droves.” The contingent of highly involved, intellectual people in Hackney, actively concerned with improving the borough is symbolized by the sheer number of projects, community centres and workshops that exist there.

The Riot Clean Up movement was simply the tip of the iceberg. From Centerprise to the Eastern Curve Garden, Rhythms of Life to the Shoreditch Trust, right across the borough people are working tirelessly to help those around them…successfully. Despite Hackney being one of the most deprived boroughs in the country over 80% of school leavers continue into full time further education and crime has fallen by 40% in the last five years. I believe this can be attributed to the proactivity of people who live there.

The real Hackney is a rapidly developing, invigorating, multicultural area, in which most people enjoy the opportunities available to converse, befriend and thoughtfully live with those around them.

Of course, where there really is a lack of empathy in Hackney is from people like Archer who can afford to contentedly sit at the Cat and Mutton gastropub, an “emblem of everything that’s gone well with this patch of Hackney in the past half decade”, chomping on his haunch of venison in a state of complete detachment from reality.

To think that the gentrification he has been enjoying benifits the “gangs of fatherless, swaggering, out-of-control mixed-race youths”, he has described with scathing disassociation in the past epitomises this apathy towards social inclusion which Archer represents.

Hackney is a conveniently affordable borough for many professionals to live, who can playfully benefit from the many luxuries available (such as Archer’s beloved lido), before moving to populate the greener grass of pastures new. Unfortunately this is timed at the exact point when someone should be settling down, properly engaging with their neighborhood and giving their children the benefit of a multicultural world view that a sleeper town simply cannot provide.

In the meantime, there is plenty of opportunity to undermine, insult and antagonize people from lower incomes, or less fortunate backgrounds who eixst in a parallel universe and only become noticed when someone like Archer trips over a takeaway wrapper in the street, or hears about someone getting shot.

The real reason why noone will notice when you leave Hackney, Graeme, is that you never lived there in the first place.



  1. bob December 17, 2011
  2. Rob Ray December 17, 2011
  3. bob December 19, 2011
  4. Will Coldwell December 20, 2011
  5. bob1 December 20, 2011
  6. Bob December 20, 2011
  7. Graeme Archer June 26, 2012

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