There are none so blind as New Labour
One of the main reasons I took up blogging was as an outlet for the frustration that listening to 'Today' on R4 causes. Morning after morning I'd wake up to the news of some fatuous utterance by one of the Lords of the New Labour Universe. I was reminded of this again this morning.
Last night I heard some horribly well meaning policy maker advocating the teaching of parenting skills by the state. This was in reaction to a threat by the state to take into its care a fat child whose mother had not restricted its feeding. The mother, interviewed on television, was like a rabbit caught in the headlights; not evil or negligent, just helpless. She kept repeating 'He wouldn't eat anything else' and 'I had to let him eat'. She sat alone in her social housing, surrounded by reporters, unwittingly thrown into the spotlight of vulgar condemnation and damned for her stupidity. A glimpse into a lonely, dispiriting and pointlessly sad life.
A couple of weeks ago the Education Secretary proposed that the state should teach children to cook.
What else should the state start teaching? Table manners? Shoe-lace tying? How to brush your teeth? Getting up in the morning?
It is the most damning indictment of the grasp of big government on the souls of the nation that the automated, pat, glib and instant response to any social failing today is to blame the state for inadequate or insufficient intervention in people's lives.
Why isn't anyone saying the bloody obvious? It's not the state, it's the family. The relationship between the size and reach of the state and the importance of families and communities has been commented on, in particular by the late Conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet. When the power of one is big, the other is generally small. One can't have authority and influence centred in families and communities AND in big government.
So on the one hand we have the New Labour puppets affirming that single parent, isolated, individual 'families' that have a relationship only with the agents of the state are fine and dandy. On the other we have David Cameron who has effectively presented the case for the family. And I hope, I really hope in my heart, also knows the unspoken concomitant condition - that the state must be shrunk.
New Labour are obtuse enough to see this as an old-fashioned moralistic or religious argument; they simply will not see that it is their terribly well meaning but horribly destructive vision of the role of the state as parent, grandparent, extended family and community that is responsible for this awful national disintegration.
That mumping rogue Rousseau would have been proud of Alan Johnson.