12 June 2009

Please sir, can I have some more?

I had to suppress a laugh when I read today about the government's decision to "outlaw" child poverty (story here). Not content with having failed miserably to meet its own plan to halve child poverty by 2010 (unless everyone wins the lottery in the next 6 months), a new piece of legislation tabled today will make it a government duty to "abolish" child poverty by 2020. Clearly Gordon Brown is now so deluded he believes he can actually make Conservative Party policy.

I think it's a revealing story about the state of mind of the government in two respects. That they recognise they are on the way out, and so needn't fear the consequences of their actions. Why stop at child poverty? Why not make it a government commitment to abolish world poverty by 2020? Or war, famine and bad haircuts? Go the whole hog and say we'll outlaw all forms of sadness by the middle of the next decade - it doesn't really matter.

The second is the by now familiar New Labour approach to a problem - to solve a problem through legislation. That by declaring something illegal, it will make it go away. Does that mean that, come 2020, if there are children still in poverty, they will be like illegal aliens? Squads of police will track down rogue vagrant minors, just like Victorian times.

Mind you, a return to Victorian Values might be on the political agenda by then, with the Tories in government.

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