|Children: do they belong to you or the State?|
Just as I am beginning to sympathise with those people I previously wrote off as nutters for saying British politics essentially involves the transfer of power from one social democratic party to another.
You see, at the age of 25, I have never conscientiously lived through a Conservative government, nor experienced, as so many have done before me, a party with my support so utterly turn their backs on the ethos with which they won it.
In a way I feel sorry for them in the cabinet. Scarcely six months in power and already they have succumbed to the lobbyists and the chatterers. Or was that the plan all along? Looking back, it seems as though the election campaign was based on one overriding assumption. That the quest for power so often constitutes a defeated resignation to what is perceived as inevitable. Reduced to a single phrase, 'better us than them.'
So what am I getting at here? Well, I forgave over Europe - it seemed perfectly reasonable to me to put off any confrontation while the deficit was a priority and europhiles lurked in the cabinet chamber. I wrote off the absurdity of keeping the 50p tax band a little longer as another vote-winner on a subject with which the public has previous little knowledge. I even overlooked Theresa May's 'Harman Lite' attitude to equality due to what I am now convinced is a curse on the Home Office.
But I nearly jumped out of the bath on when I read about Frank Field's child poverty report, which The Times claims has the support of the Prime Minister. It recommends children should have compulsory tests in 'cognitive, physical and emotional behaviour' and that parents themselves should be tested on how much time they spend reading to their child, teaching them the alphabet and helping them to make friends.
Most galling of all, it recommends mothers be assessed on their mental health and whether they 'bond well with their children.'
Now, he may be a maverick, but Frank is a still a Labour man so this statist, intrusive, blatantly fascist document does not in itself surprise me. What shocks and appalls me is that it has the backing of a supposedly Conservative prime minister.
I'm reminded of a certain Conservative poster from 1929, though it clearly hasn't rung any bells with David Cameron. It states: 'Socialism would mean inspectors all round. If you want to call your soul your own, vote Conservative.'
Chilling words, alarmist you might say, but were they not prophetic? Are we not, in this insane obsession with equality, condemning ourselves to a future of slavery, where all aspects of life are monitored and recorded in an effort to achieve the impossible?
There is a reason Sir John James Cowperthwaite, financial secretary of Hong Kong from 1961-71, steadfastly refused to record statistics in the colony. Statistics are fuel for egalitarians; egalitarianism demands state control and state control is only a whisker from tyranny.
The truth is, equality is an absolute. You cannot have more or less equality - people are either equal or they are not. In this country we pioneered the idea that all men, regardless of their social standing, were to be considered equal before the law. That is an absolute and one that is it be ardently admired. We pushed for equality of opportunity and there is now not a position in the land a British child cannot achieve - even, as Kate Middleton is finding, Queen of England.
The trouble is, this isn't enough for some people. For them, the only equality worth pursuing is equality of outcome and this feverish obsession has spread to all parties of government. They justify the expansion of the state into peoples' daily lives as part of their crusade to reduce the gap between rich and poor - to make them 'more equal.' But we already know this to be impossible, making absolute equality the only logical goal.
But history has very capably demonstrated that the only way to achieve this is to reduce all citizens (save a pampered elite) to slaves of the state. It was pushed to its horrifying extreme in Cambodia during the 1970s and it can still be seen, to a lesser extent, in North Korea today.
I had the displeasure at college of having an openly and unrepentantly Stalinist sociology teacher. We had a number of arguments and the hatred she was teaching pushed me to change classes but what absolutely appalled me was her assertion that parents do a terrible job of raising their children and that all responsibility should rest with the state.
So, when you're taking that parenting exam a few years from now, ask yourself this: who do your children belong to? You? Or the state? Because if these proposals become law, it may no longer be up to you.