The State enforced sense of oneness has had its day.
There has been much ado about universalism this week. The idea that everyone should benefit from the welfare state is not, however, universally popular. Polly Toynbee wrote an article this week in which she seems to suggest that Labour should abandon the idea to win the next election. Bless her, she writes as if that is a foregone conclusion.
Those that consider themselves left of the Labour frontbench love the idea of universalism. It removes the stigma from welfare, which is an admirable thing for it to do. Jolly good japes. There is a snag, though. It’s expensive, and by and large the population hates it. Particularly the people that rely on welfare to live. And the people that fund it. And some of the rich people that receive it. Never mind all that, though. Owen Jones and his mates think it’s a good idea, so it must be.
Under universalism welfare and dependence is mandatory. Under individualism it would be unnecessary. I know which vision of society I would rather work towards.
The divided left
For months the face of Nigel Farage has been a common sight in our newspapers and on our television screens. During every omnishambles he has been omnipresent, and every week a new commentator climbs atop a soapbox to declare that the end is nigh. Twenty years ago men of letters wondered if there would ever be another Labour government. These days they wonder if there will ever be another Conservative government.
Reams have been written recently of the division in right-wing politics. A quick Google search reveals that since January it has been described as an irrevocable split, an emerging divide, a marital problem and a Tory war. Before long it will be known as a chasm or an abyss. By the end of the year the party will have been ruptured by a fissure which flows with the tears of middle England. By the time of the general election the various party factions will reside in different galaxies, and spend their days in opposition peering at one another through satellite telescopes.
All of this would be quite problematic if there was an effective opposition, but there isn’t. The Labour frontbench is a celebration of mediocrity, consisting of Tony Blair’s sloppy seconds and Chuka Umunna. Ambitious Labour backbenchers are avoiding the reign of Ed Miliband like a bad smell, and rightly so.
Against this backdrop the situation does not seem all that desperate. It may take an election defeat to prove the point, but in the long term the positions of the Conservatives and UKIP are very much reconcilable. The rise of UKIP shows us that the right are capable of energising people who have been politically apathetic for years, as well as taking votes from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. In short the right have found another way to do what they do best. Divide and conquer.
In such circumstances it is easy to feel sorry for the left. The gap between their ideals and public opinion grows by the day. Every time Owen Jones appears on television a Conservative grows wings, or something. Often it would seem that the best response is to ignore them entirely, and watch whilst they further divide, divert and dilute.
A positive alternative to discrimination
The Metropolitan Police, the self described institutionally racist London police force, have a funny way of showing that they have learned from their mistakes. This week Simon Byrne, the assistant commissioner, gave an interview to the Guardian in which he confirmed that Scotland Yard is discussing with the government the poss
In other words the police would like the right to discriminate against a particular race. Call me old fashioned, but I think that discrimination is wrong in all its guises. Positive discrimination has never been allowed in the United Kingdom, and if we hope to maintain our reputation as a fair, free and democratic country it never should be. It is an insult to equality. Although it may in the short term address the under-representation of minorities in the police force, it will also increase resentment between the settled population and immigrants, which is the last thing that London needs.
Clearly ethnic minorities are under-represented in the police force in areas with large immigrant populations. So what is to be done? Studies have consistently shown that white children perform better than children from ethnic minority backgrounds academically. An alternative to positive discrimination would be to promote a career in the police force as an opportunity for school leavers of all ethnicities that have scored poorly in their exams. Policing does not require academic prowess. It requires charisma, physical strength and high moral standards, traits which many intelligent and capable youngsters have in abundance, despite a lack of high school qualifications.
Daniel Jackson pushes paper at a London based centre-right think tank. Between meddling in the dark arts and raising his young family he occasionally tweets at @danieljksn