While most 40-year-olds would be fazed by the notion of becoming the grandmother of triplets, Rachel Briggs is beaming. ‘People say she must take after me as if that’s a bad thing,’ she says, casting a proud glance in the direction of her pregnant teenage daughter. ‘But the way I see it, I haven’t done so badly.’
That, of course, depends on your definition of achievement when it comes to your family. To date, Rachel has six children aged between three and 21 with four fathers, none of whom seems to have been around for long enough to do much in the way of parenting.
Her elder son, Jay, is a father at 21, while her second eldest child, Sian, made headlines this week after it emerged she is expecting triplets aged 17, two years after giving birth at 15 to her son, Jaden.
Jaden’s father is no longer on the scene, with the triplets sired by Sian’s new boyfriend, 18-yearold Callum. Quite a jumble of fathers, mothers and babies in this residential suburb of Portsmouth then – 11 children by seven men – with not much in the way of employment between them all.
Even by the depressing standards of ‘broken Britain’, the circumstances of this ever-expanding extended family warrant further examination.
This rather glaring example of multi-generational family breakdown in Britain highlights the universality of the destructive effects of the welfare state. Liberals in America have tried to blame the social pathology of the ghetto on “institutional racism.” But as Theordore Dalrymple has shown, the very same pathology is pandemic among the British poor who are overwhelmingly Caucasian (as are the Briggses). It is the cultural impact of the welfare mentality, not race or racism, that underlies this pathology.