Conservative Diary

« Twelve more of the 2010 intake appointed as PPSs | Main | Gove considering voucherisation of education funding, with headteachers running school budgets »

The Guardian versus the poor

By Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-11-12 at 07.38.00 This morning, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell draws a picture of IDS (at least I assume it's IDS, it's not a great likeness) kneeing a welfare claimant in the groin. Very sophisticated*. See the full drawing.

Polly Toynbee recently apologised for likening Coalition housing reforms to the "final solution". She realised that she had exposed her own unreasonableness. But she's back to being unreasonable today. She describes IDS' reforms as "criminal" in her latest attack.

Also in the newspaper Madeleine Bunting, secular inquisitionist, thinks IDS let his mask slip by using the word "sin" to describe the chronic welfare dependency of our era. This, she writes, gives the Coalition's welfare reforms a "sinister religious edge".

The really immoral or sinister thing isn't what IDS is attempting to do but what has happened over the last few decades, under Conservative and Labour governments. The poor have been written off. Decommissioned. Unemployment has passed from one generation to the next. Life chances are set at the moment of birth when children are born into communities dominated by crime, family breakdown and under-performing schools.

At long last we have a government wanting to bring new weapons to the war on poverty. Where the Left emphasised redistribution and the Libertarian Right emphasised market forces, Modern Compassionate Conservatism is about active use of government to get people into work, build up the family and improve school standards.

Moral superiority is in the DNA of Left-wingers. They lose all sense of proportion when the Right challenges that superiority with an alternative poverty-fighting agenda. Tories are meant to be horrid. They get up wanting to hurt the poor. To concede the possibility that there is a Compassionate Conservatism is too threatening to the Left's identity and, as a result, the attacks on IDS are so strident and childish.

To be fair to The Guardian there is at least one voice of sanity at the newspaper. Martin Kettle gives a cautious welcome to Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms on the Guardian's comment pages and identifies the key issue that most of his colleagues have ignored:

"[IDS] is trying to answer the profound question urged on the young William Beveridge by his Balliol tutor long ago – "to go and discover why, with so much wealth in Britain, there continues to be so much poverty and how poverty can be cured". Why and how indeed? Give the man a chance."

"Amen" to Mr Kettle if Ms Bunting doesn't mind such sinister language.

* The Independent's cartoonist is worse; IDS is portrayed bashing the poor with a club studded with nails.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.