Thursday, December 19, 2013
It was a remarkable gaffe -- as defined by Michael Kinsley. Last Friday, James Moore gave us a brief statement of what he really believes, unvarnished by spin. When asked about the problem of child poverty, he answered, "The government says it's my job to feed my neighbour's child? I don't think so."
There could be no clearer statement of modern conservative boilerplate. In Margaret Thatcher's words, "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families." And it is a family's responsibility to feed its children.
Government does not concern itself with people -- only things. Government doesn't invest in people. It invests in things -- fighter jets, prisons, ad campaigns. But people must invest in themselves. And, if they don't, there are prisons and workhouses.
If, at Christmas time, Moore sounded eerily like Scrooge, it was no accident. The Harperites policy playbook comes straight out of the nineteenth century. In the 21st century, their profoundest ambition is to be eminent Victorians.
Moore quickly tried to backtrack. "An apology. The cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. I am sorry."