Ian Duncan Smith wants to take child benefits and tax credits from mothers who have a third child and any more thereafter. Unbeatable China has a draconian one child policy, so why not us? There is no public outcry because the proposed policy only targets the children of the most disadvantaged, those ‘feral’ creatures, the enemy within. I thought IDS had come to understand such hopelessness.
Eight years ago, he went to Easterhouse estate in Glasgow, home to some of the poorest of British families with multiple problems, some self-inflicted, but most caused by the indifference of society, an amoral economic model and hard political decisions. He met Janice, whose young son, a heroin addict, had died of an overdose. The caring Tory cried. We were touched. So too Bob Holman, a dedicated community worker on the estate: ‘[IDS] responded to poor people in a positive manner…He was impressed by the contribution of volunteers who were unemployed and single parents…I thought him a decent man’.
I was at a Labour Party fringe meeting in 2005, when IDS called ( in his deep voice with matching deep conviction) for the poorest of our citizens to get adequate resources so they could be part of the communities around them. I clapped heartily and thought the man was in the wrong party. Now we know: those were crocodile tears and the crocodile came back to maul the people he had feigned to care about.
IDS is apparently an ideological progeny of those, who, over history, wanted to curtail the reproduction of humans they considered a nuisance, feckless, feeble and dispensable. They came from the left and right- and included the Webbs, Bernard Shaw and Marie Stopes and Sir Francis Galton who, in the 1880s, wanted the state to limit ‘unwanted’ populations.
In Total Politics magazine recently, historian Dr David Stack disclosed that Churchill was inspired by the American, Dr. H.C Sharp, a fanatic advocate of the sterilization of ‘degenerates’. When Churchill became Home Secretary, he tried and failed to get such a policy through but predicted; ‘It is bound to come someday’. That day came in 1974, with Keith Joseph who said in a speech that Britain’s ‘human stock’, was threatened by mums of ‘low intelligence’ who were producing ‘delinquent denizens of borstals, sub normal educational establishments, prisons and hostels for drifters’. His political career bombed. Last year Tory Lord Fleet said the poor were breeding to much and again was duly chastised. IDS has faced nothing like the same opprobrium. Hard times, hard hearts.
Brilliantly marketed Government spin has turned off all public sympathy for those crawling through life at the bottom. According to Labour MP Karen Buck, only 1.5% of the benefit population have never worked. 584,000 families who need help are in low paid jobs, strivers with no rights, no job security, no voice, especially in recessionary times. The demonization of the workshy and disabled is just as pernicious. Too many private companies paid to revitalize and retrain are in it for just profits; businesses and governments should but rarely fund small, charities which bring on those without skills or confidence, or the will to go look for jobs. Until 1998, I worked part time on one of these projects in Tower Hamlets. Most of my students were hungry, worked hard and tried again and again to enter the job market. I saw the light of hope fade after some months. Many turned to crime and three mums had more babies. One explained: ‘They won’t give me a chance, don’t think I am anything. The baby makes me feel I am something. Maybe the children will get a chance one day.’ I still see the three women when I can- one English, One Bangladeshi and one African. Life has only got darker for them.
This story brings me to last week’s column, when I wrote about the new racism waking up around Britain, from football clubs to school playgrounds. Some accused me of ‘hating’ the working classes and the poor. I spent years with the dispossessed and still carry on that relationship through volunteering. I come from that background myself so to hate them would be to hate myself. However, I do want to unconditionally apologise to Millwall football fans for writing that [they] ‘behave like animals’ when black players come on. I should have said ‘some fans’ and not tarred all the supporters carelessly. Many are committed anti-racists and I upset them. I was wrong.
This apology does not extend to abusive emailers, fans like this: ‘YOU are a racist, lying slut…Many people are waiting to catch up with up with you and I can’t wait till they do AND THEY WILL! You should be deported back to your shithole of a country along with your disgusting tribe.’ They may be a minority but their savagery is real. Racism has not been seen off from these isle, not yet. A hand written letter I received from another football supporter calling himself ‘Man’ had a suggestion: ‘We should sterilize you Pakis and Blackies. We hate you and your bastard children’. I have forwarded the letter to IDS’s office. Perhaps he will see what he is unleashing.
PS Can the woman who wrote to me about her abuse by a living TV presenter, please contact me or Lancashire police?
Published in the Independent 29th October 2012