Thursday, November 23, 2006

Greg Clark MP: Polly's new lover

It might surprise my readers to know that your humble Devil is actually quite a patient man; he is willing to give many people the benefit of the doubt and often holds back. So, I am glad that I have had a little time to sit back and reflect on Greg Clark's comments; perhaps he is right, perhaps the Tories can learn something from Polly. Perhaps she is not the demon that she is sometimes painted as (by me, amongst others) and perhaps Greg is right that the Tories should heed her prescriptions for ending poverty.

No, fuck it; the man's a cunt of the very first water and Polly is a useless, mendacious piece of shit with all of the logical and literary skill of a half-peeled banana.

Let me just say that it beggars belief that anyone would ever use Polly Toynbee as a blueprint for anything. I would almost rather suck the fluids from her corpse in an orgy of munging—this situation would, at least, have the distinct advantage that she would actually be dead—than distill any of her half-baked ideas and state-obsessed rantings.

It is not so much that her ideas are utterly useless (which they are) or that they have been proven to be utterly ineffective—nay, positively counterproductive—(which they have); it is that her articles are so incoherent. As a longtime student of and... er... appreciator of her articles, I have constantly highlighted the fact that Polly Toynbee contradicts herself at least once in every article that she writes; she doesn't even simply contradict her established values: no, she contradicts a theory that she has propounded only a few paragraphs before.

This—combined with her wilful manipulation of figures and selective quoting—has led me to ask, constantly, is she a mendacious liar or a highly-retarded idiot? Or, of course, both (needless to say, that's the answer that I'd give).

Polly Toynbee is a statist; worse, she is someone who, ultimately, does not believe in choice, as Timmy points out.
This is, remember, the right wing party here, suggesting that we should snuggle up to the Great Statist. The one who, yesterday, as you might recall, actually asked, in all seriousness, whether government policy should include this:
Does that include the right to make the wrong choice?

It's extraordinarily difficult to think of any interpretation of the words either freedom or liberty that do not include such a choice. In fact, it's very difficult to think of a meaning of the word 'choice' that doesn't include that possibility.

Her comment would suggest that Toynbee is not only a statist: she is an advocate for a dictatorship, an advocate for the total control of people's lives. It is not an exaggeration to say that she is as bad, ideologically, as Stalin.

Thus, it beggars belief that anyone—and I mean anyone—would ever take any of Toynbee's writings as a blueprint for anything; that a Conservative MP should do so shows just how deeply into the mire of mendacity and mediocrity the Tories have sunk. In short, the Tories seem to have mistaken the concept of appealing to the "common ground" as meaning that they should abandon all of the principles and policies that made them Conservatives.

It is not to say that those of us of a libertarian bent do not admit that peope live in poverty, or that we are unaware of what it is to be poor. Pace Councillor Terry, I would say that a good number of the most rabid libertarians currently blogging are either relatively poor now or have been in the past. It is simply that we believe that the state is not the best mechanism for pulling people out of poverty. Long-time readers might remember Chris Dillow's post on marginal tax rates, his data based on a report from the Department of Work and Pensions [PDF].
Here’s a question: Take a married couple with two children under 11 and pre-tax earnings of £200 a week. If they get a better job, raising their earnings to £300 a week, by how much does their net income rise?
£60? £50? £40?
Nope. £8.52.
Yes. £8.52. That’s a marginal deduction rate of 91.5 per cent.

Yes, it is. And it is this kind of benefit trap that is so destructive, both to those actually trapped and to our economy at large. In fact, it is the pursuit of policies of this sort that have seen relative poverty rise in this country since NuLabour took over. As Timmy says,
Instead of simply adding to the constipation of the current system ... why isn't someone actually applying brain power to the problem and advocating a real change? A Citizen's Basic Income... along with the firing of a million or two bureaucrats and the dismantling of the current welfare state?

Well, they are. All of us libertarians out here on the blogosphere are applying our brain power to a solution. Both those with training and those without are constantly proposing solutions which would almost certainly work far better than anything that is currently being mooted. Unfortunately, when those in power look at our writings, all they see are "shrill discourse" of "incommensurate demands". Your humble Devil accepts that he must take some of the blame for this perception of bloggers, but it seems an unfair assessment when there are so many "sensible" writers out here in the 'sphere.

Leaving all of that aside, it seems that we have now reached a point at which we libertarians no longer have an options amongst the three main parties. All three claim to be capturing the "middle ground" of the political spectrum; their thirst for power has rendered dispensible all of their principles. The saddest thing about Greg Clark's comments—apart from the fact that, whilst being a Shadow Minister, he appears to have a rather more tenuous grasp of basic economics than even I—is that he has finally put the nail in the coffin of the Conservative Party as a political force that believes in personal choice.

This is, of course, no surprise to your humble Devil; I have been ranting about the homogenous nature of the Big Three for some time. Clark's ludicrous, ill-informed outburst merely confirms what I have been saying for months; what has, however, given me hope, is the number of hitherto dedicated—and now incredibly dismayed—Tories who have emailed me, or commented, expressing interest in UKIP. It really is time to build a new conservative movement, the underpinnings of which are entirely libertarian.

I do apologise for the lack of swearing in this post; it seemed appropriate to try—given the small discussion on 18DS on Monday—a slightly more measured tone. However, I really do recommend that you read some of the other bloggers' reactions—Mr Eugenides, Reactionary Snob, Strange Stuff, Guido, The Nameless Tory, Chris Dillow—as they made me laugh like a maniac and, alas, how could I better their contributions without stealing their thunder? Although, tomorrow, I may well have a really up close and deeply personal look at Greg Clark's justification on ConservativeHome.

And, of course, Polly has responded and her superciliousness is positively dripping off my screen; I haven't read beyond the first paragraph yet though. Why? Because I am going to return to my usual style tomorrow as I rip her a new arsehole, all the better for munging her with...

UPDATE: Tory In The Wilderness (not 'arf!) makes some very good points.
Of course what’s most interesting about relative poverty is that it never goes away, it is after all relative to the prevailing living standards etc in the country at any given time. So if the possession of a blackberry, laptop and golden monkey were to become a standard feature of middle class life, then all those without said items would be, you guessed it, impoverished. Woe is me, I have no golden monkey!

Go and read the whole thing...

10 comments:

Unity said...

There are times when it's gratifying to be right, as I noted over at Fisking Central yesterday afternoon...

"Mr E is feeling a bit peaky at the moment and DK's off job hunting.

Both have noticed, however, and will surely be ripping Greg Clark a new arsehole in due course."

Charles Martel said...

however you are very polically aware - the overwhelming bulk of people in our land are not.
its a move to the centre ground - purely for political reasons. After all , Thatcher never mentioned her right wing agenda when she got elected in 79, did she?

and the thing is - its actually worked - the MSM , or rather the BBC , were all confused today - "the tories ACTUALLY interested in the poor ... huh???"


much better to keep those fuckers confused than to be banging on about your "crazy" libertarian taxation policy.

LFB_UK *The Legend* said...

methinks you were tired, but very well put, I await the rage tomorrow lol

Devil's Kitchen said...

You are correct, I am quite tired; the short London trip ended up being rather energetic and frenetic in the end...

DK

Anonymous said...

I realised Cameron was bad news when I first heard of him long before the general election. The beeb said he had made a speech criticsing Thatcher so i rang his secretary who denied it and sent me a copy of his speech which was a load of guff (but heh, what do you expect with ppe and a background in pr). I did not like him then; i voted against him in the leadership election and just about every time he opens his over-privileged mouth I despair.

I am not sure I will join UKIP; I am tempted instead to stand as a REAL Tory against the A list candidate.

Tim Almond said...

I could just about swallow policies until this.

I could accept the "keep the NHS" thing. That the general public still mostly back the useless organisation. That maybe what they would have done is to keep it as an "NHS" but privatise the functions and have it run as a voucher system.

It's now obvious that this isn't it at all. Cameron and his merry men aren't free marketeers. They're not the sons of Thatcher or Major (who for all his faults had experience of bettering oneself).

They're patrician conservatives with the same class views as most of the Labour party - that people are either "rich" or "poor".

These people will do more to re-establish class divides and keep people in their place. I hope that the aspirational working man realises this.

Tim Almond said...

charles martel,

I read the 1979 Conservative Manifesto yesterday, and most of the people on the right who are attacking Cameron would have few problems with it. Law and Order, market liberalisation, reduction in trade tariffs. I wouldn't agree with "Reform the CAP", but they were naive enough to think that could be done.

Yet, by the definition that the BBC put as the "centre ground", it wouldn't meet the test.

Compare it to the Labour one, and they don't share much common ground. Yet, the Labour party's policies weren't extreme. They were where orthodox politics had been since the war.

Some conservatives are saying this, because they like to be able to paint Cameron as being nothing different from Thatcher. That he's not being radical, but nor was she.

Read the manifestos.

Trixy said...

The choice of two socialist parties...what a delightful treat!

Are 'Dave' and Clark to be joining Polly in some Gordon Loving? Cameron spread on the floor of the Treasury, pinned down by Polly, as Gordon pumps away?

Chem ed said...

Boris has a go at triangulation; having taken the Dear Leader's shilling he'd not be wanting to ruin it all. She's nannying, statist and paranoid, but a stinking hypocrite, so that's all right then. Now if he'd just offered her sushi in the last sentence I could just about have stood it.

Is this the new era of do as i do not as i say?. Perhaps - this is a cunning policy by the far right.. Make 3 identical statist parties who all loath each other to split the morons' vote - then come through with a brand new, Liberalist party. Or not.

Larry Teabag said...

This post reminds me of a story I wrote.