2 January 2012


According to Labour front-bencher Liam Byrne, apropos of benefits policy:
"something for something" means reward for those who are desperately trying to do the right thing, saving for the future and trying to build a stable, secure home. Right now, these families are offered too little reward and incentive – in social housing and long-term savings – for the kind of behaviour that is the bedrock of a decent society.
Well, I demur.

The “kind of behaviour that is the bedrock of a decent society” is a euphemism for conformist respectability. As is the implicit injunction to “do the right thing”. Who says what “the right thing” is or defines the "decent society"? Prissy focus-group Daily Mail readers? Labour politicians? The Church of England? The imam of the local mosque? It's none of his business. This is soundbite politics at its most cretinous, and the worst sort of communitarian populism.

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