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S.E.L
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Yes, a very good article. This from the Telegraph today: Asked to define relative poverty, Mr Cameron said it occurred when "people don't have what others take for granted." What a ridiculous definition. Would relative poverty be eliminated if others took nothing for granted; would it disappear if we were grateful for all that we had? Surely poverty should be defined in monetary terms, not on people's perceptions.
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Jonathan & Denis: I don't agree with the idea of relative poverty. But imagine this scenario: We win the next general election, Cameron proposes some ideas to address poverty, and redefines relative poverty from 60% of median income to say 35% median income. Labour would jeer. Cameron would reaffirm that it is relative poverty he is dealing (thereby not going back on promises) but that 60% was not realistic number because these people were in fact fairly well off (statistics cited that most have a mobile phone, TV, etc.). So dealing with people at 35% or below median income might in fact be absolute poverty, which in practise means that this is what he would be dealing with even though he's calling it relative poverty. Maybe I'm just too cynical about it all.
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Jonathan: No need to force anything. If they don't want the help offered, then they can remain poor. The point of my ramblings above was that warm words + no policy = room to manoeuvre Maybe Cameron is a bit more crafty than we give him credit for?
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Denis: "I haven't got what others have got, and what's the government going to do about it?" Despite all the warm words, Cameron hasn't ruled out "We'll help you get a job", or "We'll make bursaries/loans/studentships available so you can get some training/education". Who would say this is not "social justice"? esbonio: I'm at "the other place", and have attended some rather tame events.
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Denis: That's just it, warm words is hardly a capitulation. There's barely any meaning behind them; it's all waffle and feel-good phrases. We get worked up, and everyone else thinks the party has become nice (i.e. electable). But Cameron hasn't really committed to anything remotely left wing, leaving room for eventual policies that we wouldn't object to.
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Why don't we donate arms to the refuges; give them a fighting chance. The Janjaweed may think twice about "slaughtering civilians indiscriminately, looting and pillaging the villages and raping the women, before burning the remains and moving on to the next target" if they encounter machine guns and perhaps anti-aircraft weapons. Sophisticated weaponry is not needed, just some basics and a bit of instruction on how to use them. By time sanctions and discussions have any effect, many more will die. But that means we lose our chance to be heroes! What if they ended up being able to help themselves!
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JO's Sausage : What's wrong with "men only" associating for drinks and discussion, or for that matter "women only"?
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Maybe Cameron has done the math, and for every person we lose to UKIP, we get two from Labour or the LibDems. Cameron's strategy seems to be composed of warm words (social justice, environment, relative poverty, etc.) coupled with a lack of specific policies. He is criticised for both separately, but taken together, it means that he hasn't actually made any shifts to the left in terms of policy. Suppose we win the next general election, how hard would it be for specific policies that address the above issues to be rather more traditionally conservative? For example tackling "relative poverty" could mean getting more of these people into work (and not bigger cheques). He's leaving himself enormous room to manoeuvre. Should we give him the benefit of the doubt? Do recall that before Cameron became leader the party's biggest problem was one of image and not policy. As much as I would like to hear a Thatcher-like speech, this may be the right approach to win the election (which is what he's supposed to do, and not preach to the converted).
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I wouldn't believe everything you hear about Oxbridge drinking societies. There is a tendency for embellishment as stories get told and retold.
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I agree with you Denis (and Mark) on point two. I do however have issues with "social cohesion". How do you measure it? You can at least count (approximately) the number of people in poverty (however defined). But what do you use as your ruler to determine if there is more social cohesion at time A and less at time B? If you can't measure it then it has no place in policy; you don't know if you're going in the right direction or not. It's just a waffle-word.
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Winchester whisperer: Mark Wadsworth provides some interesting ideas (earlier posting). Alternatively, we could assume they are all deserving initially, and see how they make use of the opportunities/benefits/money provided. Tim Almond: Come back! Come back! Better to be on the inside pissing out, as it were.
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"By necessaries I understand not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without." So today this would be... mobile phones and iPods? It is not useful to lump everyone below a certain income (relative or absolute) together and refer to them as "the poor", and assume we have a homogenous group where every member has the same characteristics. There is not one solution or policy that will alleviate poverty because there is more than one reason why people are poor. Some simply have come from poor families with few opportunities and would benefit from educational opportunities. Others may have mental health problems and would be better off in an institutional setting, while others yet are drunken, feckless, lazy and prefer handouts to working. We should not forget the useful Tory distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. We can target appropriate help to the former, and forget about the rest.
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"It is very welcome that David Cameron has been in Darfur and I hope he puts this issue at the top of the political agenda when he returns." Why should the internal affairs of another country be on the top of the UK's political agenda!? Shouldn't we sort out problems in the NHS, transportation, crime, and education before messing about with African nations? Nothing says "International Statesman" like photo ops with hungry black children. Well done David, now you have the jewel in the crown.
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Maybe if we win the next general election we should have a 7 day "cooling off" period before introducing any new legislation! Although teaching personal finance at school would be incredibly useful.
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Lucinda @ 10:27, Social justice is one of those terms that can be defined to mean just about anything. Equality is a core idea of lefty ideology, not of social justice. Instead of equality one can think in terms of entitlements (Nozick). People should be allowed to do what they want with their property, including giving it (ALL of it) to their children. To deny a person the option of spending their money on medical procedures (on an MRI scan for their mother for example), is simply sick. If someone wants to take on a second part-time job to better themselves and their family, they should not be taxed at a higher rate. These are examples of social justice that do not depend on equality.
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Gadfly, I was being sarcastic when I suggested that children should be taken away from their parents. I agree that stable families are good for children, but it doesn't necessary solve this particular problem of educational underachievement. Two parents that don't give a damn about education won't be any more beneficial than one parent that doesn't give a damn. "This govt has been taking more and more responsibility away from parents we need to get them to become more responsible, not less." I think you are conflating to separate issues: BEING responsible, and HAVING responsibilities. It makes sense to take responsibilities away from those who are irresponsible. Giving someone more responsibilities does not make them more responsible (this seems to be a frequent assumption). Giving an irresponsible person more responsibilities will just mean that they screw more things up. So we either give people many responsibilities (and allow some to fail) or we give few responsibilities, let the state take on more, and thereby let fewer people fail (in theory anyway). I think that people should have many responsibilities (and the state few), and therefore I accept that certain individuals or groups may not do so well. The other option of course is to MAKE people more responsible... with a Nobel prize to whoever figures that one out.
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IDS: "The policy-making implications are clear. To prevent the growth of an uneducated and unemployable underclass of forgotten children, we have to get their parents to engage in their learning and schooling from an early age.” Hmmm, sounds a bit NuLab to me: Let's tell working class parents how to raise their children, because obviously they can't do it on their own. Maybe we could send them books to read to their children. Oh, wait, Labour tried that. Or maybe parents could be sent to classes to learn how to tell their children nursery rhymes. Blast! Beverley Hughes has beat us to it! Maybe we should just take these children away from their parents and have them raised by the state.
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"...the reintroduction of the Mental Health Bill, which will allow people to be locked up without any crime having been committed, risks the freedom of thousands of innocent people." Yes, thousands of people who are now living on the streets because they can't function in society would be getting the support they need in an institutional setting (the horror!). Often these people have drug and alcohol addictions and may turn to petty crime to fund their habits. We aren't talking about locking up bloggers because they may oppose NuLab thinking and are therefore deemed insane!
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Erasmus: Yes, sad days are upon us when I have to look at Spiked to find sensible arguments and comments on climate change (ConservativeHome of course being another place!). But from the Conservative party itself? You get what you would expect from a party that has a tree for a logo. By the way, does anyone know if there was ever any debate about the new logo, or a consultation of party members? I was out of the country for a bit and it just seems to have appeared one day.
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It would be easier to believe some of the predictions about global warming if (1) many of the activists weren’t so nutty, and (2) some of the predictions weren’t so nutty. Apparently global warming will cause an increase in gender inequalities! See the article on Spiked for a list of over 300 (presumed) effects that global warming will have: www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/2045/
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People like to associate with others who are like themselves. This is true for people of all races and is nothing to be ashamed of. Some get understandably upset when they feel that the majority of people around them are no longer like them, especially when they've had no say in the matter. Labelling these people as racist is unhelpful; it's a superficial term with such a broad definition and negative connotation that its use in reasoned debate is almost nil. These people are also grateful when a political leader recognises and acknowledges these feelings (which can be done without 'inciting' violence or hatred). Until the main political parties acknowledge this, the BNP will continue to get support. But the main parties can't acknowledge this because they will be called racists by the others. Ah, isn't democracy a funny thing? (Which is why we should have an unelected upper chamber...but that's off topic.)
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"We should also elect our judges and chief constables; and we should also improve the deomcratic deficit in this country by abolishing the unelected House of Lords..." Judges should be impartial and arrive at decisions according to the evidence, not because they already told the public that they would decide things in a certain way. This would introduce some of the worse aspects of the American system. Chief constables should spend their time fighting crime, not canvasing for votes. Democracy has its weak points, it can allow unsavoury characters to gain power (I don't mean Blair). A (mainly?) unelected upper chamber acts as a counter weight to populist politicians. An appointed or hereditary upper chamber has its week points as well, but they are in the opposite direction to those of a democratically elected chamber, and the two complement each other nicely. Just because something could be elected does not mean that it should be elected. Suggesting that we have a "democratic deficit" is like suggesting Russia has an "authoritarian deficit".
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Nine Scottish firefighters were recently disciplined for refusing to offer safety advice (which was part of their duty) to people attending a gay pride march. So why was no disciplinary action taken against PC Basha for refusing to do his duty? Quoting from the BBC news article on the topic: "The fire service spokesman said: Firefighters cannot, and will not, pick and choose to whom they offer fire safety advice. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue has a responsibility to protect every one of the 2.3m people it serves, irrespective of race, religion or sexuality." The same should hold for the police.
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