Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Polly Toynbee, New Labour and eugenics

Yesterday I suggested that there were some parallels between the eugenics movement in the early part of the last century and New Labour's enthusiasm for state intervention in the family. This morning Polly Toynbee provided more evidence for this view.

Her article is another call for the state to take over the socialisation of children. In effect, she wants them all nationalised. If this sounds extreme, here are a few quotations:
A neighbourhood children's centre for all, means families' childcare crisis will soon be over. Everything children need will be there - health visitors, speech therapy, child psychology, parenting classes, cookery, mother and toddler groups and skills training.
For over-5s, the promise is for every school to stretch from breakfast to tea, so every child gets food, care, entertainment and homework help all day long.
Youth clubs are no use if they are not state-of-the art with highly trained mentors.
There is something almost Soviet in her enthusiasm for public provision. When she speaks of "a young people's palace offering music, drama, arts, sport, computers and emotional and practical support," she sounds exactly like a Brezhnev era apparachik extolling the Pioneers movement.

Toynbee is convinced that promising to implement these policies is the surest way for Labour to win the forthcoming election. I doubt this.

Most voters do not share her lack of concern for family relationships or contempt for parents or voluntary effort. And they will certainly wonder why these establishments should be "palaces" when our schools, our hospitals and - God knows - our children's homes are nothing of the sort.

But what interests me most is the point that Toynbee uses to clinch her argument:
The one true target on all this children's policy should be a rise in the birth rate, as in Nordic countries
I rest my case.

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