One of the few traditional Conservatives to have served on the Tory front bench under Cameron, Paterson was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland before being promoted to the more high profile role of Secretary of State for Defra.

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Andrew Tettenborn: Lefty pressure groups intensify demands for higher taxes

Where can you offer someone a benefit worth over £2,000 per year, but nevertheless be condemned as perverse and wicked when you ask them to claim it by showing that they qualify? In the looking-glass world of the fantastical feminist far-Left, of course.

In the 2015 Budget the Chancellor said he would limit child tax credits, already unavailable to better-off families, to the first two children in respect of any child born after 5 April 2017. Because of the two years’ advance warning no existing child would be affected; furthermore, and to deal with the obvious problem that this might be unfair in cases of unintended children, the Government conceded exceptions: multiple births and the (hopefully rare) cases of pregnancy through rape. The idea makes sense, and indeed was applauded by a number of cash-strapped European governments unattracted by the prospect of continuing having to write an unlimited blank cheque in respect of unlimited numbers of children.

The result was, of course, explosive criticism. The then Labour leader Harriet Harman cannily saw the pitfalls of Labour opposing the plan and thus being seen to endorse the indefinite existence of perverse incentive to mothers to produce ever more children to be raised at the public charge. It made no difference. For her pains, she was in July 2015 likened by her party to Mao Tse-Tung or King Herod and accused of promoting “some kind of eugenics policy”. Furthermore, the elected UK Government found itself reported like a naughty schoolboy to that most democratic of bodies, the UN, with a view to its receiving a dressing-down for what one would have thought an unexceptionable democratic decision on UK tax and social policy.

But this was nothing to what happened when the Government legislated last week to confirm the new scheme and the protection for rape victims. From the feminist Left, a perfect storm on Mumsnet and in the Guardian. And shortly afterwards, a House of Commons motion to annul the entire draft tax credits regulation, spearheaded by the grievance-driven SNP through obsessive MP Alison Thewliss (whose other curious enthusiasms apparently include breastfeeding at football matches) and supported by among others the vocal Liz Saville Roberts of PC (who has previously featured here on TCW).

This episode shows the logic of the campaigning Left at its most screwball. Let me explain.

Presumably they’re not objecting to the presence of a rape exception to the two-child cap. Apart from anything, if it hadn’t been there the current objectors would have been the first to complain that it wasn’t. They would have waxed lyrical on how unfair the policy was on those, like victims of rape, who hadn’t chosen to have more than two children. No: it seems clear that the complaint is that the exception is intrusive, and (this from Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence against Women Coalition, who has also featured on TCW) that it is wrong to make women disclose and show a rape to prove their entitlement.

Now, it is true that this may be highly unpleasant. But in what way is it wrong? If a woman wishes to have her partner evicted for sexual violence, it is an unfortunate fact that she will have to allege and prove it. And so too if she wishes to claim, as she has every right to do, criminal injuries compensation from the State for having been raped – which can amount to a very considerable sum indeed. Ms Thewliss and others do not seem to object to this (nor indeed can one think of any possible basis on which they could do so). But if that is right, what is the objection to requiring the same thing in order to claim money from the State in another form, namely a tax credit? Answers on a postcard, please.

Of course, what the objectors are really trying to say is that to spare rape victims all this trauma the entire two-child cap has to go. But this equally won’t do. The rape exception will affect a tiny proportion of child tax credit claims. The argument thus comes to this: child tax credits cannot be restricted at all, because a dispensation rightly given to a tiny minority of claimants would be uncomfortable to some of them to take advantage of. It is not hard to see that this amounts to insisting that a very small tail must be given free rein to wag a very large dog, and that the argument has to be rejected.

Not that this is a point likely to make much headway with Ms Thewliss, Ms Krys and groups like www.scraptherapeclause.co.uk. Pressure groups of that kind have been in business for as long as any of us can remember with precisely this aim: making sure elected governments dance to their tune, rather than that of those who elected them. You can’t expect them to change the habits of a lifetime when faced with a rational argument, or even a majority.

(Image: FCO)

Andrew Tettenborn

  • Reborn

    I’m happy to see, what i had only heard as rumour, that the UK taxpayer is to stop
    paying people to breed.
    The “thoughtful & responsible left”, used to bang on about world overpopulation,
    until they discovered anthropic global warming which had the benefit of discouraging
    the proles from holidaying abroad and also freezing poorer old indigenes to death in winter.
    As a prelude to our regaining our independence & the concomitant self respect let’s make
    two bold moves.
    1. Stop paying child child benefits at UK rates for children of immigrant workers.
    In most of the EU, exchange rates & local legislation make it highly lucrative for a
    parent to stay at home in Bulgaria claiming benefits for children while the spouse
    works in the UK. Selling the Big Issue or working as a cut price poorly qualified
    plumber.
    2. Physically inspect all such families in their homelands, using private investigators,
    While we are in the EU, deduct the costs from our annual “membership fee”.

    • Greenlander

      Junkers and co offer harmonisation of everything from an EU wide NMW to benefits, it would certainly stop benefit immigration but you do the maths and average out the NMW of Bulgaria and Germany and see what you get, average out benefits in the UK and places where they don’t have them and see what you get.
      The EU is pro business not pro people, you will be buying insurance to cover what good and bad governments used to provide if you want to go the EU route.

  • Colkitto03

    This highlights why the left and feminism are losing the public.
    They are addicted to ‘whataboutary’
    What about this? what about that? This approach to law making ensures that little ever really changes. This is why the public are so discillusioned by the political elite.

  • I wonder how many victims of rape actually give birth to the child these days? With abortion available virtually on demand, how many actually go ahead and have the baby?

  • Sargv

    > Of course, what the objectors are really trying to say is that to spare rape victims all this trauma the entire two-child cap has to go.

    The objectors are trying to say that they want free money without the requirement to provide any validation for the need. They do that through appeal to their status of eternal victims.

    Feminism is about victimising women to claim privilege, and a dreaded rape is the most overused scarecrow. We should treat appealing to “rape” in public debates the same way we should treat public accusation of “racism” – “put that back into dustbin”.

    • Bik Byro

      Got three kids and just split up from your partner and want some extra benefits? Just accuse him of rape ! Simple !

  • Bik Byro

    The problem comes when women falsely accuse men of rape so they can get extra benefits.

  • Groan

    Even more intriguing in this story is the actual provisions to “prove” rape. They follow the same very elastic provisions to prove domestic abuse to get legal aid in family courts. In the latter all that is needed is that an allegation of domestic abuse is made to any of a number of public bodies, no proof is needed to secure the legal Aid. Hence that budget is spending over twice as much now as when the new rule was brought in and the justice Dept is scrabbling to find ways to tighten up. Of course having incentivised allegations more men now face allegations than ever before.
    The provisions on the third or further children included as giving “evidence” “refuge worker” as well as medical worker and a range of public officials. No need to have been raped in the eyes of the law. So the feminists could have seen this as another opportunity to ratchet up evidence of “rape culture” as the prospect of years of benefits will no doubt have much the same effect in vastly increasing the allegations of rape, as all is needed is an allegation supported by one of a wide range of officials or charity/refuge workers to secure the benefit!

    • Andrew Tettenborn

      In practice you’re right; the need for proof is there but often ignored. I’m also waiting for some court to find out that a court allows a woman to take advantage of the rape exception even if she hasn’t been raped but simply lives with an assertive boyfriend, on the basis that she has a trumped-up human right to be treated in the same way as a genuine victim. This is by no means unlikely, I regret to say.

  • Mez

    This looks more like the ‘pro-life’ lobby to me. Without it the choice for a woman is whether or not to abort, and she would be far more likely to abort the result of a rape anyway. Also if a woman ‘prefers’ not to abort, then she is treating that child the same as an intended family, this law doesn’t say ‘she can’t have more children’, only that the state is limiting how many it will pay for. In essence with this ruling the state says it will automatically pay for children who are the result of rape, which means there is a conflict from any pregnancy even in marriage which could arise from ‘rape’ or sited domestic violence. Govt should remove the rape issue completely.

    • Andrew Tettenborn

      Given who’s screaming loudest, I doubt if pro-life sentiment features very large here.

      • Under-the-weather

        Depends whether or not the Bishops in the House of Lords have influenced outcome, I don’t know I’m not following it,

      • Mez

        It cold be the Bishops in the Lords, I’m not following it.

        • Mez

          sorry …’could’ be

  • Under the weather

    A woman still has a choice, adoption, abortion, at risk of rape – better contraception. This is just about the state not wanting to pay for it. Rape shouldn’t be part of the legislation, many women suffer PTSD, take drugs afterwards, is that the right life for a child?, but that is what the state would be supporting by paying for the result of rape.

  • simonstephenson

    “The argument thus comes to this: child tax credits cannot be restricted at all, because a dispensation rightly given to a tiny minority of claimants would be uncomfortable to some of them to take advantage of. It is not hard to see that this amounts to insisting that a very small tail must be given free rein to wag a very large dog, and that the argument has to be rejected.”

    But this is not the concern that is fundamental to these people’s opposition. Their position is the same as the EU zealots driving the federalisation programme. In the case of the EU zealots it is that every change of policy must be inspected in fine detail to assess whether it will be helpful to the federalisation cause (in which case it will be approved) or a hindrance to it ((in which case it will be opposed). In the case of the Lefty pressure groups the same thought processes apply, except that the one, overriding issue is the destruction of individual independence and non-trivial decision-making in order that an all-powerful State apparatus can establish control and direction over the lives of every individual who lives within it.

    We will get nowhere in countering this political force unless we are prepared to understand that all its political arguments are fluff and window-dressing that are in place only to camouflage the fact that they are driving forward relentlessly towards achieving a state of affairs that the vast majority of the electorate would regard as being the enactment of Hell on Earth.

    • Under the weather

      “We will get nowhere in countering this political force unless we are prepared to understand that all its political arguments are fluff and window-dressing that are put in place only to camouflage the fact that they are driving forward relentlessly towards achieving by stealth a state of affairs that the vast majority of the electorate would regard as being the enactment of Hell on Earth”.

      Since 2013 there’s been a continuous debate on youtube under the video called ‘Karl Marx was right’, with continuous and different participants arguing for the motion, which is presented as a University debate.

      It’s unbelievable for most adults that anyone should be taking this stuff seriously after an extreme conservative 100m deaths, (more like double), and with both Russia and China moving into a capitalist system in the 20th century, but there is still a drive towards communism supported by the young from different countries who now have a global voice, courtesy of the media. This I believe comes from a very narrow type of mind that can’t comprehend there are solutions to what they can’t imagine someone could devise a solution to. Although there are disaffected Americans and probably Brits, they also live in central America, Greece or somewhere else in the Southern Med, or former eastern block, and can’t imagine the fault doesn’t lie with the system they are told they experience. They can’t imagine a world without iphones, or ipads, and assume the same level of materialism (those selling 3D printers market a problem of limited resources) and which is considered ‘the big problem’ owned by the West and connected to global warming. The force of creative destruction changes it all, and has already changed a lot of it for the better, but narrow and small minds don’t look and can’t comprehend the potential for any intelligence higher than their own; worse the same small minds can get into University and walk away with a qualification which should indicate otherwise.

      Armstrong on whether the problem is capitalism or socialism today:
      https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/armstrongeconomics101/economics/whats-collapsing-socialism-or-capitalism/