(In wake of the latest terror attacks in London Bridge and Borough Market, we highlight our proposals to crack down on Islamist terrorists and those who give them succour and support. With 23,000 jihadist extremists living in Britain, of which 3,000 are regarded as posing a real threat, the scale of the danger is horrendous. Further atrocities appear inevitable unless action is taken to curb the activities of suspects. It is incomprehensible that only seven of them are subject to T-PIMs, terrorism prevention and investigation measures, the watered down version of control orders – effectively a form of house arrest. TCW sends its condolences to last night’s London victims and their friends and families.)
The Manchester bombing made the exercise of writing an alternative manifesto seem almost irrelevant. Against such an atrocity, who cared about the political parties’ variously undeliverable, undesirable and uncosted promises – whether for houses, hospitals, pensions or schools – made on behalf of the State. All that mattered surely was our safety and the security of the nation. And whether either we (the people) or our political leaders had the means or determination to ensure it would never again happen. Against the backdrop of the Government’s self-evidently failed anti- terror strategy and sentimental posturing, these questions have remained in the air.
Jeremy Corbyn has made it as plain as a pikestaff where he stands on Islamist and any other sort of terrorism – with them, not against them – which came as no surprise to us at TCW. We have never been under any illusion as to his sympathies. His policy of appeasement would lead us into the valley of death.
To the faltering May campaign, Corbyn’s ‘honesty’ must have seemed a godsend. Central Office has a definitive message to pump out again: ‘Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn cannot be trusted to keep our country safe ’. They cannot indeed.
But can Mrs May herself be entirely trusted? After all, Corbyn is not alone in his typically regressive left view that the West is to blame for pretty much everything – a view drummed into every schoolchild and student. Others in the political establishment share this ‘inverted Muslim mindset’, as Melanie Phillips describes it, that has it that ‘the West’ only has itself to blame’. Even a former head of MI5, Eliza Manningham Buller. This is the mindset that has and is paralysing Western defences against Islamic supremacism.
Face Down Terror
This has to be the first of TCW’s ‘alt’ or ‘off the grid’ manifesto pleas to the political class: Get real about the nature of the Islamist threat. The starting point has to be the understanding that Islamists do not need a reason to hate us.
Government must listen to the real Muslim reformers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who understands this) on how to counter the spread of radical Islam. It involves inter alia:
- Operating a zero tolerance policy for terrorist sympathisers, aiders and abetters (deportment, passport stripping, internment, prohibition of re-entry – no options should be excluded from consideration).
- Publicly question and challenge Wahhabi and Salafi ideology and prohibit its foreign funding – whether for mosques, Imams or Madrasas.
- Prohibiting segregated Islamic schools.
- Making Burkhas unacceptable in public for the simple reason they prevent recognition and communication and hinder integration and assimilation.
Defend Western Civilisation
Dealing with the Islamist threat requires we actively defend our own embattled civilisation too. As Daniel Johnson notes in this month’s edition of Standpoint: ‘…..the worst traitors to the cause of liberty often go by the name of liberals …. (who) see nothing wrong in the self-hatred of the (Western) cultural elite..”
The pernicious idea that ‘we have failed to overcome bigotry, racism, imperialism and national selfishness, from which we can only be saved by the wisdom of international organisations’ must be rejected. It is as nonsensical as it is self-destructive.
Revalue Christian Marriage
Marriage is not just a lifestyle choice. It was, very simply, ordained for the procreation of children. The modern idea that the (Christian) married family – is something that can casually be consigned to the past or of no intrinsic value or significance is also the product of the moral relativism of the regressive left, of the ’thou shalt not judge’ school of thought so loved by feminists.
Feminists have successfully undermined marriage at every turn, leaving married couples to bear much of the tax burden and effectively pay for others’ less responsible ‘lifestyle’ choices. The idea that any tiny incentive for marriage ‘stigmatises’ single parents is the typically huge over-reaction of bullying feminist social justice warriors.
But abandon marriage and you leave single mothers at sea with only the State to cling to as a lifeboat. The 50-year trend away from marriage has been a catastrophe, especially among the poorest sections of society that Labour and now Mrs May claim to care about most.
Its mirror image is modern poverty – in the sense of society ‘coming apart’ with the emergence of a State welfare dependent, unmarried underclass of socially and economically unviable families. To which the policy response has been? Not incentives for personal responsibility but social engineering. ‘Inequality’ can be rectified by the state’s social mobility industry.
The less it works the more compulsory it has become. Positive discrimination quotas (by background, diversity, gender and soon mental health) are imposed – however ineligible the candidates, however impractical or inefficient and however much this stultifies aspiration and hard work.
It may be a truism but strong and stable families are the bedrock of society – though ever more harried and weakened – and they are the solution. They are by definition married families.
The absence of the M word anywhere in the Tory manifesto marks a further retreat, even from the paltry married transferable tax allowance offerings of 2010 and 2015. Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation is right to point out how shameful it is how all the political parties: ‘have completely ignored family stability as an issue….despite the fact that Britain has the highest rate of family instability in the developed world’.
Even recent converts to the catastrophic effect of single parenthood, like David Goodhart, who understand the need for motherhood, still do not ‘get’ marriage (though still the aspiration of nearly all young women).
He is fully aware of the damage feminist-inspired equality policies have wrought on the family, that have left men socially and economically marginalised, as Belinda Brown sets out here. Yet he baulks at marriage as the antidote. But what is the point of ‘recognising’ cohabitation when it is cohabitation, which runs at a five times higher rate of breakup (unsurprisingly in view of that it does not demand commitment), that is the problem?
Why this matters so much can be found in a major new UK study published in the February issue of Social Science and Medicine. It shows how the effect of parents splitting up on children’s mental health is equivalent to the effect of moving into poverty.
Give mothers and parents choice not childcare
Instead of encouraging parental responsibility all the political parties seem set on undermining it, just as they have consistently undervalued and undermined motherhood with their successive ‘motherist’ or anti-mother policies. As David Goodhart rightly advocates here, it is time to listen to mainstream Britain and defend mothers’ right to stay at home to nurture their children themselves. This is what babies and children want and need too. It is not rocket science. But the evidence is here for those that need it.
All our cold-hearted politicians promise is to take ‘the little blighters’ off their parents hands and liberate mum for that higher cause – work. Labour’s ‘free’ childcare pledge, which ‘promises to benefit a million families’, will take the country even further down the path to the nationalisation of children; separated, in true communist style, from their parents’ love, time and influence.
The Tories too promise to create thousands of new nursery places in schools and 30 hours of free childcare for 3 to 4 year olds. We should beware this cross-party consensus. They are invariably wrong. Extensive state support for provision and regulation of the sector is neither necessary nor desirable. As Ryan Bourne argues: ‘We are firmly on the slope towards a government takeover of this whole area of life, despite the lack of evidence base. Not only is the government weakening the personal responsibility aspect of having and bringing up children, but it’s paternalistically deciding what used to be within the domain of parents. A more classic case of the State crowding out family and civil society through regulation and subsidy is difficult to find’.
We, like Ryan, believe a complete re-think is needed – tearing up the status quo and starting again, overhauling policy according to the principle of parental choice. This would scrap the range of demand-side subsidies we currently see, but recognise the costs of bringing up children in the tax system – allowing people to decide what type of care they want, if any.
Return to classical liberal education
Why would anyone would think that longer hours spent in the State’s defunct, ideologically-driven education system would help children or the economy unless a challenge is made to its current dumbed down curriculum, modern orthodoxies and stupidities.
Chris McGovern has consistently excoriated ‘the Blob’ on all these matters. His three-point reform plan set out here would not just make a difference to every child’s future, but also improve the country’s skill base and end wasteful ‘degrees’.
Schools also need to resist the gender feminists and LGBT lobbies’ thought police – their bullying demands for the quite inappropriate indoctrination of ever younger children into their particular sexual mores. Programmes like CHIPS (Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools) should be abandoned forthwith.
As one TCW reader put it: “What we need is free thinking, innovative, open-minded people who can put together a coherent argument for and against a point of view leaving university or secondary school, and who when challenged, do not hide from an argument but accept facts and evidence rather than opinion and emotion.”
She is quite right to say that no Conservative government should be ‘turning a blind eye to the destruction being caused now and for the future by a Marxist-inspired monolith currently infesting education’.
We believe schools must start to concentrate instead on the fundamentals of decent behaviour: honesty, toleration, respect, kindness, responsibility and civility. They might too, as Jason Newman – TCW’s youngest writer – set out in his last blog, teach their pupils the basic life rules for success and happiness:
1) Finish school.
2) Get a job.
3) Don’t have children before you are married.
Finally to our fifth ‘must be done’ – legislation repeal.
Firstly we have to repeal the most noxious and destructive of EU-inspired law as Andrew Tettenborn has set out for TCW.
But we also need to take a long hard look at recent home-grown state interventionist legislation that undermines individual liberty.
Far too many families are trapped in a tax and benefits churn. Working tax and child tax credits, even under their new universal credit guise, have rewarded single parenthood and part-time work at great cost to the responsible full-time working taxpayer as well as penalising the single earner couple family and capping its aspiration. The combined cost of these ‘benefits’ to the taxpayer in 2014 was £30 billion. Unsurprising to TCW readers, this huge (negative) state investment failed to pull children out of poverty.
Nor, of course, did the Every Child Matters ‘permanent’ initiative, which led to the 2004 Children Act, or Louise Casey’s costly troubled families programme (which the May government has committed to continuing). Why? However many sticking plasters the State provides, it cannot reverse the fact that single parenthood is the key predictor of poverty.
Far from interrupting the intergenerational cycle of family breakdown, State intervention in the form of working tax and child credit reforms and extended childcare provision has entrenched it. This is another area of self-evident policy failure.
Without repealing the oppressive 2010 Equalities Act under which, as one of TCW’s readers wrote, gross injustice is frequently meted out to conscientious upright citizens, our society will not be free from political correctness or the oppression of feminism, identity politics and the culture of complaint. The same goes for the new police and CPS agreed self-identified hate crimes. These are truly regressive, undermining the intrinsic feature of the law which is its objectivity.
Another contributor made the wise suggestion that a step towards disbanding the ‘thought police’ would be to abolish the fabricated distinction between ‘Crimes’ and ‘Hate Crimes’.
(Among other ‘reader suggestions‘ we liked were: Tightening up the electoral system to reduce fraud and allowing postal votes only for genuine reasons – sickness, infirmity and working away. Reducing the size of the House of Commons by adopting revised boundaries, and drastically reducing the House of Lords).
One reader suggests, in addition, that the repeal of the Climate Change Act of 2008 would do more to address the problems of high energy costs than any price capping and that we should proceed with fracking and extracting vast shale gas resources to boost the economy, create jobs and end dependence on overseas supplies of gas and oil.
TCW’s own ‘alt’ climate change manifesto prepared by Andrew Cadman is set out here.
Privatise the BBC
This last week should have left no one in any doubt as to the BBC’s default regressive left, shamelessly partial and anti-Tory stance. Quite simply the Corporation either does not know what impartial means or it does not care. In short, it has one and only one ideological agenda, which it pushes relentlessly.
There is only one answer to this. The licence fee must be abolished and the BBC privatised. If Momentum want to fund Corbyn Broadcasting TV they can – out of their own pockets. The BBC has betrayed its Charter and exploited its state monopoly for its political ends. This hubris-loaded gravy train must be brought to a halt.
Should – heaven forefend – Corbyn’s Labour win this election, we will be confronted with a whole new order of magnitude of state spending, intervention and control – of the kind you would only expect during an existential crisis like a war – and an unprecedented increase in tax and borrowing, reversing, as Julian Jessop of the IEA says, all the post-war liberalisations in one go. It will be goodbye Britain and hello Venezuela.
Increasing the role and the territory of the State is not the ground on which Mrs May should be competing.
Family, freedom, liberty and personal responsibility should be her by-words, remembering that without strong and stable families there is no freedom – economic or social.