Friday, November 26, 2010

Overflowing outrage...

Flight of fantasy or Flight of the Con d'or? hehehe; what a palaver...and again over nothing and certainly not fantasy. Howard Flight and his remarks have been described as idiot, disgraceful, shameful, repugnant** etc, I think he wasn't so far off the mark.
"We're going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it's jolly expensive, but for those on benefit there is every incentive."
Now, IMHO the contirved outrage is over the use of the word 'breeding'. Had he said:
"We're going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from unprotected shagging because raising children is jolly expensive but for those on benefit there is every incentive"
...I'm sure he would have got away with it! Almost. Channel 4 FactCheck conclude: offensive phrase but "...a valid question: do tax and benefits influence how many children people have?" Apparently Ed Miliband, is making attempts to reach out to what he calls 'the squeezed middle' which I've heard helps but a condom would be safer and better.

** These words are all reported from various friends and foes alike on the BBC report [Link]. I read the comments on view and was [pleasantly] surprised:

"Well I agree with him. You shouldn't have children you (not the state) cannot afford."

"Typical upper class hogwash from someone with his head in the sand. The working class will dig the country from the mess we're in not peers or the government."

"I don't think he should apologise - I agree. The benefit system does encourage poorer people to "breed" and to use this as their source of income. This is completely wrong if people with a bit more money don't get any help at all - raising a child is indeed expensive and tricky for anyone in this day and age."

"David Cameron was wrong. Howard Flight is right as the cost of raising children properly is a serious disincentive for middle class families. For those dependent on state benefits the more children they have the more money they receive. Families are allocated larger council houses if they have more children whereas a middle class family with more children will not be able to afford a bigger house."

"This is just another example of the Conservatives, or contributor to the Conservative party clearly out of touch with the nation."

"Whatever happened to freedom of speech?"

"I find it hard to believe that anyone, no matter how poor, would have a child so that they can claim an extra £11 a week in child benefit. A week's worth of nappies costs more than that."

"He should never have apologised. It's reflective of the sorry state of British politics when a peer (albeit soon-to-be) cannot speak his mind. This is regardless of whether he's right or wrong (and he is right in my view). We need more people like Mr Flight, not fewer."

Only a snapshot but more 'in favour' than not.

Update: just noticed Iain Dale said much the same thing last night.

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Paul said...

Iain Dale (and your goodself) are right, what a bonkers way to run a Government, either these people are allowed to speak or they are not. I loved the fact that between Howard's comment, Cameron's comment and Howard's retraction there was less time then it takes Usain Bolt to run 200 metres.

Span Ows said...

Indeed, quite ridiculous (I still blame Blair!)

The Great Gildersleeve said...

I wrote disappeared...

I'll try again later...

Span Ows said...

I received the one above at my email but no other so maybe it wasn't posted correctly...or maybe my ultra swear-word filter removed it before allowing my delicate mind to read it


The Great Gildersleeve said...

Ok...has a stereotypical view of who sees as the underclasses...

Just as many probably have of him. There area as many good people or wasters whichever section of society you frequent. The only thing is that "He" and those who are on a reasonable income will probably still be able to afford to support a family and do it without asking for help.

It probably was wrong to say what he said(or perhaps it was how he said it)and in the current climate that did not help but he has a right to say it and then be praised or criticised by others.

Give him enough rope and all that.

How many of us would have children at all if we really looked at what it costs over the years but thankfully in many cases we still have an emotional reason rather than hard cold facts.

Span Ows said...

Give him enough rope and all that. Indeed!

However re your last sentence Gildy, that is EXACTLY what some people do. The rich don't care because they can afford it; many on benefits don't care as they get a flat or moved up the housing list or get a bigger house given to them and get more beenfits (I know it's not a lot but the figures suggest it has an effect). It is the "squeezed middle" (Oh God, I'm doing it now!) that pay for their house and they DO sometimes NOT have children because "THEY CAN'T AFFORD IT".

To quote what I have read elsewhere:

The British welfare system is unusually child friendly. Many other countries limit support to small families, don’t provide boosts to housing priority, or have child poverty targets that entrenches such generosity. Large families do tend to be associated with higher levels of poverty, both in this country and across the world. There are poverty incentives built into that system. Once there it is much harder to get out of the system with a large family than not. This ‘breeds’ resentment between those trying, and those acting perfectly rationally in response to the system.

As a result the comments Flight made, albeit using different language are also expressed on council estates.

"In the BBC soundbites last night we saw Ed Miliband sitting down with Tesco workers talking about welfare reform and the ’squeezed middle’. One makes a reference to her dissatisfaction that while she and her husband both work, her neighbours along the balcony produce kids and can somehow afford designer clothes. Same point, less inflammatory"

The Great Gildersleeve said...

And once again there is the problem, it is a small amount of people that work the system but they are seen as a much larger problem.

The fact is that those who work should be getting a better deal too but you'll notice that until the furoré over the possible removal of tax credits and child benefit for some, many have had to make up what they earn by also being helped out by the state.

This then shows that wages are probably too low, that many of the jobs are rubbish etc...and incomes are not keeping pace with the bills for basics that we all have to pay.

And...has anyone looked at whether some of these families that are said to have "Lots" of children have done so on religious/cultural grounds.

We all know that some religions do promote large families as do some cultures.

But whether on economic grounds or otherwise the norm these days is probably no children, one child or two at most.

Span Ows said...

I don't think it is a small amount Gildy, I remember my own group of friends gradually moving through life and well over half of them, when the finally hooked up or got married/got their own place were always saying "we can't afford kids yet".

Also, had a 'Tory Toff' said exactly what you have just written "some of these families that are said to have "Lots" of children have done so on religious/cultural grounds the howly-shrieky media would be calling him a racist, out of touch, anti family, anti Catholic, anti religion, Islamaphobic, nasty party, typical Tory blah, blah, blah...funny old world

P.S. I certainly agree with teh wages too low/costs too high point.

The Great Gildersleeve said...

Yes, I suspect that you are right.