Coffee House

The political class’s new phobia: big families

5 April 2013

2:38 PM

5 April 2013

2:38 PM

After almost a week of media breast-beating about the Philpott case, a creepy consensus is emerging over benefits for children. Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative backbencher, wants child benefit to be limited in future to a family’s first two children. Lots of Tories agree. So does former Tony Blair speechwriter, Philip Collins. ‘This would save £3.3 billion if it were applied to all recipients,’ he writes in his Times column today. ‘Many working people take the responsible view that, though they would love another child, they cannot afford it.

Well, yes. No doubt out there is a degree of feckless fecundity among claimants, and that’s a bad thing. We should not incentivise greedy people to have children just so they can have more cash. But isn’t it a bit sinister to suggest that the state pay for a family’s first two children, and no more? Either the government supports children or it doesn’t. Cutting the payments off after two babies seems not only arbitrary, but cruel. Doesn’t a family of three need that extra 13.50 a week even more? Besides, the overall benefit cap that Iain Duncan Smith is introducing will stop any huge family  from claiming more than £500 a week. It will be harder for families with no breadwinner to live off government largesse.

Why then introduce the two-child policy? Why not reduce the amount given for each child instead? This issue goes deeper than money. Lots of people have accused the Daily Mail of stirring class war in the last few days. But the papers are guilty of fecundity-hate as much as chav-hate. As Madeleine Teahan notes, the Mail tried to suggest that Philpott’s potent depravity was somehow linked to his Catholic upbringing: ‘Philpott was born into a sprawling Roman Catholic family, where multiple marriages and large numbers of offspring were the norm,’ it reads. Multiple marriages the norm for Catholicism?

>Really? It’s the ‘large numbers of offspring’, though, that really worries the chattering classes, Left and Right. Children are expensive for the state and bad for the planet. The squeezed middle often do not have as many children as they want, so naturally they resent large poor families. But today big families seem to have become a politically acceptable phobia. There is a growing feeling that not having more than two children is somehow virtuous in and of itself, while having a large family without great wealth is  downright immoral. The government should not endorse such prejudices.

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Show comments
  • Trevor Jackson

    Interesting comments. I’m a British Catholic father of 8 beautiful children in a wonderful marriage for 25 years. I’ve been a mechanical engineer for 30 years and my pay has always kept pace with my family’s needs. We live life to the full, even though we live in a horrible anti-family country which I’m ashamed of, and which stupidly extolls abortion as prudence and wisdom, when in reality it leads to national poverty. In fact, my kids are probably going to have many children and we’ll repopulate our village without any outside assistance whilst all the kid-haters reflect on their miserable tiny lives and pick out their coffins.

  • paulthorgan

    The issue is not about ‘large families’. The issue is that working families have to budget for each child they have. No such budgeting exists in families living on welfare. It is not fair for one working couple paying rent and mortgage out of their wages to have one child where a family on benefits can have as many as they want and have the state pay for everything.

  • Mynydd

    A family on benefits on having a third child see their income increase by £13.50. A working family on having a third child see their income increase by £13.50. What logic says a working family cannot afford a third child whereas a benefit family can.

  • ChrisVikernes

    The only ones breeding geometrically are the idle- backwards social engineering, we still have Labours underclass to grow up yet.

  • steve7789

    Child benefit should not be available to single mothers

  • Carrie

    The state should pay for the children that exist before the parents go on benefits. People on benefits should not then go on to have more children because they can’t afford them and neither can we.

  • Fat Bloke on Tour

    FG

    What a civilised country we live in.
    What next, child labour, the workhouse?
    Even indentured servitude is now Government policy.

    Can slavery be far away?

    Great what crawls out from under rocks in times of distress.
    Put enough pressure on rats and they will eat their own young.
    Put some pressure on the small minded and the bigoted and they will starve other people’s children.

    At least SpeccyLand brings them to the surface.

  • http://twitter.com/TheJazzDad Mr T

    Hardly a new fear of the political class… poor student of history

  • commenteer

    Actually, in the early 1950s child benefit was limited to one child only. This isn’t a new policy idea; just a perfectly rational resurrection of an old one. Two children entitled to benefit is a sensible limit.

  • Linda Breeze

    Nearly all of my ancestors had very large families. There was no benefits then. They still had to survive. Even then, there were very little material things that they had. They were still very healthy. In the 1950s parents gave up their babies for adoptions as there was still no benefits. It was usually next of kin who would adopt to keep babies in the family.

    • alexsandr

      yes linda. But my family had large families in the late 19th century. But so many of the kids died. Kids dont die like they used to, what with jabs and antibiotics etc. I lost 3 great aunts and a great uncle all under 5, all to scarletina. all in the same 3 months. Then the parents had 3 more – same names. Twas so different then

  • paulus

    Whe children are to blame for the problems of the Earth it is an inversion of logic and common sense.

    The earth is an empty place and every new person is a provider and consumer, thus by making themselves rich they enrich others. Only an Mathusian understanding of economics would that be disputed.

  • Donafugata

    In every debate about welfare there are those who forget that receiving benefits is not a right. A couple may produce as many children as they can afford but a couple who rely on benefits has to realise that their choices are limited. It may seem unfair but, beggars, quite literally, cannot be choosers.

    Why should a family who rely on handouts have as many kids as they like just because they won’t have to worry about how to pay for them?

    And it is not the EU but the government that decides about CB for children living outside the UK. That’s one opportunity to exercise sovereignty that could be taken, so why isn’t it?

  • Jeremy Fletcher

    Hang on, when did we all suddenly agree that I should pay for other people’s first two kids? I don’t care where they come in the sequence – your kids, your responsibility!

  • http://twitter.com/TwinsplusTwo Emma-Kate Thompson

    And whilst we are about it how about valuing the role of the stay at home parent, rather than pushing new mums back to work. Staying at home with preschoolers is valuable on many levels. The current childcare “crisis” was created by the aim of encouraging mothers into paid employment. Thanks Blair….

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    I can see no reason why the state should pay people money for having extra kids

  • http://twitter.com/TwinsplusTwo Emma-Kate Thompson

    It’s about responsibility surely? Reducing the amount per child penalises those who responsibly recognise that unless their circumstances improve they need to consider carefully whether to increase their family. No one can really expect the State to fincance large families?! It’s not sinister at all, it’s common sense and one many subscribe to. Don’t live beyond your means, the State is there to support those who need a helping hand.
    Neither is resentment of large families claiming benefits prejudice, if you want a large family, go into it with your eyes wide open and don’t expect to claim more money for doing so? Reasonable, surely?!

  • Hellen

    Nobody on benefit should receive any money for new children while claiming.

  • Russell

    Doesn’t a family of three need that extra 13.50 a week even more? ”

    If they need it they should work for it. The rest of the taxpayers cannot afford them to have more subsidised brats. ‘No money left, labour spent it all’ The welfare bill is unsustainable. Use a contraceptive if you are unwilling to pay for even more kids being supported by millions of childless people. Take some responsibility for your own family and get off the teat of the National Socialist (labour) party habit.

  • Paddy

    In the 1970’s child benefit wasn’t paid for the first child. The state presuming you could afford and had planned for the first child.

  • Daedalus

    As one of the “Established Middle Class” with 3 kids I can only agree totally with Bernard Jenkins. I have made the point in the comments on this site previously that the state should now only support up to 2 children. They should not have taken the money off people earning over – is it £45K, they way they did, but could have done it over a longer period. I suggested that 10 months after the announcement it should have gone to two kids for new children, no change for ones already in receipt and phased out for families with a combined income of over £80K over the next 10 years. If you cannot afford to have kids then you don’t have them. It is not a “right” to have kids, my favorite aunt (mums cousin and her husband) never had kids, but had a number of miscarriages, today it would probably not have been an issue, it would have been sorted out, but in the 50’s and 60’s it was one of those things and you got on with it, it was not a “right” to have them.

    Daedalus

  • last_brit_standing

    I see nothing sinister a bout only paying for the first two kids. What I find most disappointing is that it would only save £3.3bn. Maybe we need to move to a system where couples with children are given a higher personal allowance threshold by means of modifying their tax code, but not pay anybody to make babies, which is asking for trouble.

    • 2trueblue

      We must get to a system that is simpler than the present, so agree this might be more easily done through taaxation.

  • Lagos1

    I think its fine if we cut benefits for large families and argue that we shouldn’t be funding other people’s children.

    But at the same time, I don’t see why we should be funding other people’s parents in old age or ill health either. Lets cut the whole lot.

    • DWWolds

      But most of “other people’s parents in old age” have paid their National Insurance contributions for the whole of their working lives. That was the deal when the welfare state was set up. If you paid in you received your pension in return.

      • Hookeslaw

        The whole point of the welfare state was to look after other people. The issue of large families is relatively small. It is indicative of a wider picture though. Broadly called dependency culture.

        • dalai guevara

          Aristocracy DEPENDED on taxation ever since the Napoleonic wars. The sole reason why Parliament was set up was because of this DEPENDENCY. Today, our nation is awash with state-funded council houses…eh, aristocratic palaces for the DEPENDANTS.

    • Ginger Beer

      Hey, you’re missing a trick here – there’s a whole bunch of people born with severe disabilities who have never worked or paid a penny in National Insurance. Perhaps we should kill them all, save a few precious pennies for those “hardworking families”, right?

      • gladiolys

        There you go…. giving them ideas…

  • Chris lancashire

    Regardless of whether it is morally right or wrong for the state to decide to support only the first two children it will come. And why? Because in the immortal words of Mr Byrne “there’s no money left”. Is there any part of that that cannot be understood by the proponents of a large welfare state?

    • gladiolys

      In that case, why not abolish child benefit for all? After all, children will still be educated for free and protected (hopefully) by police/social services for free and their healthcare will be free. So if there’s no money left, doesn’t that make sense?

      • Hellen

        Quite frankly if you can’t afford children then you shouldn’t have them.

        • Ginger Beer

          Oh Christ – so what do you suggest? Compulsory abortions for the poor? How are you going to assess people’s capacity for affording children?

          • gladiolys

            No. It’s up to the individual to decide if they can afford a child, not the state. My Dad, born in 1927 was one of seven (two died young) and he was only eleven when his own father died. His mother still managed to bring up a healthy and strong family despite there being no child benefit.

            Poor people may decide they can adequately compensate for the lack of material resources by giving a child love, affection, guidance, examples and experiences. The state need only intervene when there is abuse, neglect or exploitation (and also to provide education and healthcare)

            • fla56

              you’re words don’t match your actions

              how can i decide how many children i can afford if i’ve spent all my money on taxes so you can have as many as you want?

              people are not entitled to ANYTHING in life -this country is generous and fair to have anything like the system it does

              by all means cut tax on all working individuals but the welfare state was intended for those who WORK not those who don’t or who claim they don’t have the opportunity/brains to get a job

              • gladiolys

                I was arguing (if you read back through my comments) that child benefit could be abolished completely. I therefore find it hard to understand your comment.

                • fla56

                  @gladiolys:disqus i struggle with your statement ‘it’s up to people to decide how many kids they can have not the state’

                  also what does ‘neglect’ mean? no Sky TV?

                  the problem is that the state (which is really me and other taxpayers) is paying for these kids

                  if you and me are actually talking about the same thing then fine, but i draw a firm line in the sand under what support any family should get

          • Hellen

            Society dictates that, not government, that’s the whole point. Get government out of the family home. You know what you can and can’t afford in life, you the individual know best.

            If you can’t afford all the things a child needs then don’t put them through the misery of poverty.

          • kyalami

            You know, people who don’t want children (or any more children) generally manage successful contraception. It is possible.

            • Ginger Beer

              Yes it is but accidents happen. Oh and abusive men like Philpott who use pregnancy as a form of control

              • fla56

                ginger i’ve noticed a theme here

                you seem to want to make society accountable for the mistakes of others like:

                -having more kids than they could afford

                -doing so with no plan B

                -staying with a partner like Philpott

                people can have a decent education, basic healthcare (not boob jobs) and safety/policing but that’s it for me thanks in all but the most extreme circumstances

                people simply now see benefits as an expectation rather than a blessing -this is just wrong

                • Ginger Beer

                  Ah, I see you’re another of a seemingly endless train of humanity-deficient individuals who want to punish children for having the nerve to be born to parents they disapprove of

                • fla56

                  you’re the ‘delusional idiot’ who denies the obvious unsustainability of any system that rewards fecklessness

                  the only people punishing the child are the parents who have them

                  and not just extreme cases like Philcott

                  of course every child deserves a basic education but after that it’s up to Darwin

                • Ginger Beer

                  So punish the parents by punishing the kids and then what do you end up with? Probably more of the “feckless” that people like you whine on about as if they were a separate species.

                • fla56

                  eeerrr you don’t end up with this since once the gravy train stops most people stop having kids

                  you really think that people will share their bedrooms with 5 kids unless they’re given more and more rooms. these people are too selfish

                  and btw yes Darwinian rules mean that the way things are going we will create a separate species low in health and productive intelligence, high in scrounging ability

                • Ginger Beer

                  Not true – benefits are not an incentive to have kids. Get real and read something other than the Daily Mail once in a while

                • fla56

                  @gingerbeer63:disqus you are delusional

                  tax on cigarettes makes people smoke less -proven fact

                  giving heroin addicts methadone or heroin stops them stealing to inject -proven fact

                  paying people NOT to eat (ridiculous as that is) makes them thinner, stop paying and they put on weight -also proven

                  but you claim offering more benefits and a bigger house for having more children doesn’t make folk have children!?!?

                  haven’t you realised it also offers an excuse not to go to work ‘i’m looking after ma kids’ ‘i live for ma kids’ -i’ve heard it all before, not interested, the country can’t afford it

                • Ginger Beer

                  Yes, some evidence for your allegedly PROVEN assertions would be nice, but leaving that aside, common sense should tell you that benefits are not an incentive to have kids otherwise there’d be hundreds and hundreds of large families on benefits. There aren’t. There’s no evidence whatsoever that benefit claimants have larger families.

                  Now I’m sure you’ll come back all foot-stampy and insist you’re right. Go ahead – have the last word. You’re utterly wrong but if you must have the last word, please do take it. Who am I to deprive you of your little pleasures?

                • fla56

                  your sarcasm betrays your lack of worthwhile argument

                  i only point out what the figures show, just go and look at them yourself

                  official figures from the Department of Work and Pensions demonstrate not just hundreds but THOUSANDS of large families on benefits, 40,000 give or take

                  and by large i mean 5 kids

                  that is 5 too many for someone who is dependant on the state

                  kids are a privilege, not a right

                • Ginger Beer

                  I wasn’t being sarcastic in the slightest and you’re the one with the monumentally ridiculous argument. I note how you fiddle about with definitions to try and make your point, plucking a random figure of five children out of your bumhole to do so. Very funny.

                  Now, those five kids – what if all of them were born when the parents had jobs? What do we do when they become dependent on the state through – say – redundancy? Take the kids into care? No, that would cost you even more of your precious tax money. What do you suggest?

                  Or perhaps you think benefit claimants should be sterilised to stop them having children in the first place? Some sort of reversible procedure that can be set right if they get a job, put back into place if they lose their job? What DO you suggest?

                • fla56

                  firstly, i have fiddled with nothing

                  that is the breakdown of the offical government figures numpty -as i have already clearly demonstrated you are the one wanting to make up your info

                  the same figures also show your ‘hundreds’ of benefit families having more than ten(!) children -that is insane

                  secondly, in terms of a simple solution if/when the parents lose their jobs they get the same amount of money from the state for having two kids as if they have five ie a two-kid limit

                  if this is a problem then don’t have more than two kids!

                  i’d be happy to see anyone unemployed not receiving any additional benefits for additional children until they’ve had a job but appreciate the devil’s in the detail

                  just remember that as taxpayers we have opinions worth listening to

                  anyone else who would like an opinion should get a job first

                • Ginger Beer

                  So in your ideal world of hatred, if the parents of five kids lose their jobs, they get benefits for two of them only. The other three can starve because the parents had the temerity to be laid off? Have I got that right?

                  You’re an idiot. Not only inhumane but incoherent. Go away, slither back under your rock and seethe in your own vileness.

                • fla56

                  I’m none of the things you describe

                  I simply don’t care. I simply don’t wish to pay for people who don’t give back what they get. Same as most people

                  Rather than keep listening to your hate-filled vitriol I’m just going to let the ballot box decide

                • Ginger Beer

                  So you don’t want to pay for severely disabled people who aren’t able to work either then? What do you suggest we do with them? There’s been a lot of bluster from you but no actual suggestions as to how your odious, inhumane penny-pinching would operate.

                • fla56

                  dear delusional Ginger Beer

                  a) there has been no massive increase in severely disabled people in the UK -in fact ‘disability’ was a Labour scam to reduce unemployment figures -why else did 900,000 people suddenly stop claiming? this must be addressed

                  b) there are many definitions of disabled, physical and mental. we live in an electronic age and it’s time to assess people’s ability to do all kinds of work -being in a wheelchair does not mean unable to work, some people (Stephen Hawking best example) contribute massively to society despite disability, they don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves

                  c) many serious conditions are diagnosed before birth (eg CF) but certain parents press on determinedly to have dependant children they know will suffer because it is their ‘right’, not so in my opinion

                  ultimately i think you need to realise that not everyone shares your opinions on how our taxpayer dollars are spent and in a democracy we all have rights

                • Ginger Beer

                  Still no suggestions, apart from an implication that parents who know they’re having a CF child should do us all a favour, save us some precious precious tax money and kill it before it’s born, regardless of their personal feelings. Inhuman, incoherent idiocy as in all your previous dribblings

                • fla56

                  don’t mistake suggestions you don’t agree with for no suggestions

                  tax money is indeed ‘precious’ -this makes me suspect i and others pay far more tax than you do

                  and it’s only be ‘their personal feelings’ if they were the only ones paying for it

                  this country has a very generous social care system, if you don’t like it then head else where. i assure you i am thinking the same thing if for different reasons

                  i leave this conversation by reminding you that the ballot box will decide these things not you or i

                • Ginger Beer

                  I earn a very good screw, it’s probable we pay similar amounts of tax so that’s THAT bit of nonsense out of the window. I like the fact that this country has a generous social care system, it makes me feel I live in a civilised part of the world. Still waiting for some concrete suggestions from you. Lots of bluster, lots of whining, lots of attempts to slither up to the moral high ground but no actual suggestions as to what you think should be done with those human beings you seem to despise so bitterly.

                • fla56

                  I refer you to my previous answers

                • Ginger Beer

                  The ones with no suggestions, only bluster and arm-waving? I’ve read them all before thanks. Could you now come up with some suggestions, possibly?

                • fla56

                  I refer you to my previous answer

                • Ginger Beer

                  The one with no suggestions in it? Yes, I read it. Now, how about some suggestions?

                • fla56

                  will leave you with this thought

                  if you don’t properly support and nuture the people who do all the real work -ie the working class, the middle classes, the professionals and small business there will be no money to care for the people you claim to care about

                  best of luck, see you at the ballot box

                • Ginger Beer

                  More bluster, no suggestions.

                  Fair enough – you’re all piss and wind, that much is pretty well established by now.

                • fla56

                  i refer to my previous answer (and the one before that)

                • Ginger Beer

                  The ones with no suggestions? Yes, again, I’ve read them. You have nothing to offer. I get it.

          • Hellen

            No, free market capitalism and people have more opportunity by getting rid of big government. I know you think life is precious but in reality people die by the score all the time, through suicides, car crashes, wars, binge drinking fighting all sorts.

            If society didn’t make people so dependent on government you wouldn’t be facing this prospect, you’re just pouring more oil on the fire.

            • Ginger Beer

              You’re the one who wants the state mandating how many kids someone can have. How much Bigger Government can you get?

              • Hellen

                Learn to read, I advocate self regulation.

                • Ginger Beer

                  “Self regulation or else” is not self regulation

                • Hellen

                  Are you quoting me?

                • Ginger Beer

                  No, I’m distilling your “argument” down to it’s nasty toxic spiteful little core

                • Hellen

                  So you’re misquoting me and not providing any kind of logical rebuttal, is this really the Spectator?

                • Ginger Beer

                  No I’m not misquoting you as I’m not quoting you at all. I am, instead, summarising my take on your vicious opinions. I rather think it’s your job to rebut my summary. So away you go. Whenever you’re ready.

    • 2trueblue

      I agree. Your children, your responsibility. We live in a world where some think that someone else should be paying their, that is the problem. As you say, live with the facts, there is no more money.

  • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

    Isn’t this starting to veer eerily and uncomfortably close to state-sponsored eugenics? Is this really what we want? I realise that we are following the remorseless logic of statism, that is, to create as many problems as we solve via government intervention, and then we intervene more to try and solve those problems, but if we aren’t going to at least have the decency to incentivise fecundity in an egalitarian – albeit appallingly expensive – manner, then might it not be more sensible and moral to simply stop subsidising people’s children in the first place?

    • Shazza

      Eugenics was endorsed by the Fabians : George Bernard Shaw, et al. Fabians are Left-wing. Restrict child benefit to the first two children and this should apply to both men and women regardless of how many partners they have. If this ponzi scheme of a welfare state is not addressed pretty soon, there won’t be any money left for any welfare let alone child benefit. Over at the Telegraph, Dan Hodges (albeit a Leftie) has written a thoughtful piece on this.

      • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

        Well in that case long may it continue. The price of stupidity has been offset by debt and financial wizardy for far too long – it needs to increase rapidly.

    • Hookeslaw

      People can have large families – what they have to accept is that there are limits to what the state will pay. Have a large family but be prepared to live in relative poverty if you do not have any other means of support.
      State payment should be in vouchers rather than cash used to buy Woodbines.
      The issue is not that the state and the taxpayer does not want to support a child and keep it from poverty, it is that they do not want to see the system abused.

      Lefties and socialists cannot get away from the notion that families cannot be stigmatised even though their situation is brought on by their own choices.

  • Fat Bloke on Tour

    FG

    Just how disgusting will the ConDemNation inspired mud-fest go?
    They have opened Pandora’s box and they might be overwhelmed by the responses they generate.

    They are ruling through fear, generating distrust and setting the poor against the starving.

    This is not leadership it is the politics of the slaughterhouse, where those in the holding pens abuse those who are the current workload.

    This really is disgusting.
    It is worse than anything I could have imagined.

    I knew they were dog boilers but now we are heading for the destruction of civil society and a return to the mob and sectarian feuding. Shame, shame, shame.

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Disgusting” (© Amy Rutland) joins “dog boilers” in Fatty’s New Labour scripted rant.

      New Labour began the destruction of civil society when it legislated for preferred identity groups, religious sectarianism and the displacement of the English. You will reap what you sow and it won’t be pretty.

    • kyalami

      For someone on tour, you do spend an astonishing amount of time typing drivel on the Internet.

  • Wilhelm

    Do a little experiment, the next time you’re out, observe the people who have babies and are pushing prams. It isn’t the British. This population explosion by immigrants is warfare by womb. Whites are going the way of the Ancient Romans and Greeks.

    • Shazza

      Totally agree Wilhelm. And what about the polygamous marriages under Sharia law that are accepted in this country. A moslem man can have, I think, four wives and as many children as he likes from them and the state pays out benefit to each and all of them. As our American cousins say ‘ do the math’.

    • gladiolys

      I read the article and thought: “At what point will someone link welfare and large families and immigrants? And look! It’s you!

      • last_brit_standing

        Yes, there’s usually at least one perspicuous realist on every article. The Internet is a remarkable thing.

        • gladiolys

          Although perspicuous kind of makes sense, I think you mean perspicacious.

          • last_brit_standing

            Yes, you’re right – I do.

        • Makroon

          “Perspicacious realist” ?
          Is this Wilhelm you are referring to ….. ?

      • dalai guevara

        And I keep wondering, why would you restrict yourself linking it to the underclass (term of American origin) immigrants? What about the benefit-scrounging aristocracy, some indeed of foreign descent?

        • gladiolys

          Agreed.

      • Wilhelm

        You’re welcome.

      • Ginger Beer

        It was inevitable, wasn’t it? If there’s one thing that terrifies the humanity-deficient more than a fecund working class woman, it’s a fecund foreign-born woman.

    • Hellen

      They should be deported.

  • darwins beard

    The vast Impression is that having a large family is incentivised through welfare if you do not work, while working parents who by the nature of working spend less time with their children while paying in part for others to do so and are poorer for it.

    Whether parents work in a factory or a boardroom they have a right to wish that they are treated fairly for contributing to the welfare system and country. It seems quite right to ask yourself, “can we look after our children” not to ask “can we get more if we have more children”.

    facts of life are hard but it is unfair quite simply to have a large family if you cannot afford to, or have no wish to provide for it and expect money that is supposed to go to those going through hard times to pay for it, it is in some way a form of neglect and blackmail.

    • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

      Intelligent and professional women go to work and leave their children in the hands of strangers.

      Idiots and feckless women are paid to stay at home so their children can get the full Shameless experience.

      Makes sense to me alright.

      • darwins beard

        Right, strangers like teachers for instance ? or grandparents ?

        • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

          I had low paid childminders and indifferent nursery workers in mind, to be specific.

          • darwins beard

            I’m sure you did, as they are all the same

  • chan chan

    Big families are great – if you can afford it off your own back. My mother is the youngest of 14. My aunt has 10 kids. I’m the youngest of 7.

    If you have to send your kids out to forage in dustbins for dinner, though, maybe you shouldn’t have had so many? But no one has to do this, as the taxpayer foots the bill, now. And they shouldn’t.

    • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

      Moral hazard par excellence.

    • Ginger Beer

      Yes, I’m sure we would all love to see children rummaging in bins. That’d teach ’em for being born, right?

  • Hookeslaw

    It not big families – if the examples in question were anything near to being ‘families’ by any normal close approach to the definition then these issues would not arise.

    What we have are large numbers of children either born to several women from the same father or children bred in the same way a farmer may breed a herds of Aberdeen Angus.

    Fortunately we do not have Victorian or even interwar levels of child death or child slavery

    • Starfish

      Agreed. It is clear that to many a decision to rear another child is a much easier question than, say a satellite TV subscription as the State effectively picks up the bill for feeding, clothing, educating and providing medical/dental treatment.
      Meanwhile the rapidly dwindling % of the population that pays for this cannot afford them due to stupendous childcare costs
      Priorities?

      • Hookeslaw

        I think Mr Gray is upset at the mention of Catholicism.

  • kyalami

    “But isn’t it a bit sinister to suggest that the state pay for a family’s first two children, and no more?”

    No it isn’t.

    • Hookeslaw

      Its quite remarkable and not a little sinister that the Spectator can employ someone who can write such rubbish as this…
      ‘The squeezed middle often do not have as many children as they want, so naturally they resent large poor families.’

      What a load of asinine rubbish and baseless speculation dressed up as thoughtful quality journalism. Its a classic example of dredging up a hypothesis based on prejudice and speculation – generating a false premise – in order to justify a bogus opinion.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Agreed. I suspect that what hard working taxpayers, regardless of ‘class’, object to is the steady accumulation of children by the feckless and work shy who regard those children as little more than ‘animated luncheon vouchers’ or an ‘enhancement’ to their personal cash-flow. Such behaviour is understandably considered as morally abhorrent and despicable. There anger is fuelled further by the fact that they are compelled by their government to pay for this behaviour.

      • Hellen

        It’s not though is it, it’s true.

      • Ginger Beer

        Its a classic example of dredging up a hypothesis based on prejudice and speculation – generating a false premise – in order to justify a bogus opinion.

        Hahaha – the irony.

    • Ginger Beer

      Yes it is. What if a woman has twins on her second pregnancy? Pay for one, farm the other out to a suitably small family? Or maybe just starve one of them. Please, this is the UK, not China.

      • alexsandr

        i am sure there could be a derrogation for multiple births.

        • Ginger Beer

          And for women who lose their job after having a third child. And what about women who are kept pregnant by abusive men? And what if someone just falls pregnant when they’ve had their state mandated two children? Enforced abortion?

          • alexsandr

            just falls pregnant? immaculate conception?

            • Ginger Beer

              Never heard of people becoming pregnant without intending to? You need to get out more.

              • alexsandr

                yes. but why is that then the states problem? Never heard of personal responsibility? No one ios saying you cant have 3876 kids if you want to. Just if you do, you dont expect every one else to pay for em.

                • Ginger Beer

                  *sigh*
                  Someone else who would rather see children starve than a penny of his or her precious bloody tax money going to feed them.

                • alexsandr

                  no, I think my precious tax money should go to those in genuine need. Like elderly who cannot afford to keep warm. like elderly who cant afford proper home care, like my friends wife recently widowed with 2 primary school children, like another friend who has just had massively invasive cancer surgery. or another person who i know who has a disabled son she cares for.

                • Ginger Beer

                  And children don’t count as being “genuiinely in need” then?

                • alexsandr

                  not just for being children. no. Yes if they have fallen on hard times. being a child is a natural state, not a disease.

                • alexsandr

                  spose what i am saying is target kids that are deprived, not just give handouts to them all.

                • Ginger Beer

                  I find it truly amazing that people so mean-spirited and penny-pinching as you exist. I wonder how you get through the day without dissolving in the acid of your own bile.

    • Chris Morriss

      It certainly isn’t, it’s just good old common sense. I have never understood why the state encourages large families, considering that many of our social problems stem from just this reason.

      • Carlazi

        because you do not understand basic economics. Why is Japan not able to recover its former economic glory? because the demographics are so skewed to the oap that there are no more workers left to support the benefits system. If you want a strong and growing economy you need lots and lots of new blood e.g. babies or immigrants. Both need government assistance to enter and thrive, the real problem comes from idiots that don’t understand the realities of capitalism, its a pyramid scheme that only bursts when you stop the supply of new investors. Its a shame the spectator readers seem to hate both babies and immigrants, but then it doesn’t surprise that they wouldn’t care if Britain was rich or poor, as long as the shop keeper is english.

        • Colonel Mustard

          What a silly comment.

        • Chris Morriss

          Wrong, wrong and wrong again. To suggest that you need an increasing population, presumably so that they can pay taxes to support the retirees, is simply a Ponzi scheme dressed up in a party frock. Once you start on this path, where do you end? By your method, each generation will be larger than the one before, requiring even more births to support it in the future. This is the economics of the madhouse. Where is our present-day Malthus?
          And what is the problem with Japan as it is? If it continues as it is, the population will start to slowly decrease, reducing the need for growth, and for any internal population Ponzi scheme. A falling population, a strong currency, and slight deflation. What’s there not to like?

          • Makroon

            Actually, increasing impoverishment and probably, ultimate collapse – yes, what’s not to like. Doh !

        • Makroon

          I kind of agree with this.
          What about those increasing numbers, who insist on living a solitary life without children, but also insist on state help with housing, full benefits and support throughout their lives, care in (childless) old age etc. ?
          They are also opting out whilst expecting other peoples children to support them.

      • Jules

        @google-032d5b2d94a7b47792c2971c315827f1:disqus Actually our problems stem from the elderly, an ageing population who want pensions and assorted entitlements, we cannot afford. If anything euthanasia should be introduced immediately!!

  • David Lindsay

    It is telling that the main voice insisting that the wrong was simply that of the perpetrators has been that of Ann Widdecombe. Her improbable foray into light entertainment seems to be coming to an end, and not before time.

    We must uphold the full compatibility between, on the one hand, the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and, on the other hand, the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past. Such an approach might be termed “catholicity”.

    As for Shameless George, who was yesterday caught using a disabled parking bay and who recently travelled first class on a second class rail ticket, does he imagine that people like him just exist naturally, or has he considered that it is their many and various exemptions from the fiscal burdens borne by everyone else that make it possible for them to create the demand for, say, cocaine, or sadomasochistic prostitutes?

    Shameless is now well into its final series. Something similar on the overclass is long overdue.

    • Hookeslaw

      Even more dribblingly rubbish than usual. Secretly it must sicken you to the pit of your stomach to see what Labour, Blair and Brown have done to the working class of Britain.

      • David Lindsay

        This all happened in the 1980s. It didn’t begin in 1997. Come on.

        I make no secret of how sickening I find Tony Blair. But come on.

        And of course there is an overclass, completely cut off from normal society both economically and morally. George Osborne embodies it perfectly.

        • GUBU

          As does Milliband (and his brother), Balls and nightclub connoisseur Chuka Umunna.

          • David Lindsay

            No, they don’t. That one just isn’t going to fly.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              They are millionaires with a sound education and wealthy parents just like Mr Osborne. The deciding factor from your perspective is that you like them but you do not like Mr Osborne.

              • David Lindsay

                Even if this were true (which it isn’t – they are simply not from the same background at all, and I have never seen the slightest evidence that Ed Miliband is a millionaire), no one in the general electorate believes you, nor ever will. The die is cast where the Conservative Party and class is concerned.

                • Chris Morriss

                  Pay attention, you might just learn something.
                  A millionaire is someone who has assets worth a million. That is what the definition always was. If you want to be revisionist and change it to something that supports your own turgid prejudices, that’s your problem. There’s lots of millionaires all around us these days. Get over it.

                • David Lindsay

                  You are wasting your time. No one is listening, and even in your own terms there is all the difference in the world between having a house that might fetch a million these days if you sold it (Miliband), and having thirty million in the bank, every penny of it inherited (Cameron, whose wife is even richer than that and has likewise inherited the lot; Osborne is much the same).

                  The electorate looks at the Labour front bench and sees the middle middle class. The electorate looks at the Government, especially the Tories, and sees almost unimaginable wealth and privilege enjoyed by people who have never needed to work. That’s just what people see. As it happens, they are right to see it. But it doesn’t matter whether or not they are right. And there is absolutely nothing that the likes of Osborne, or you, could ever do to change that perception.

                • GUBU

                  You still don’t get it, do you? Increasingly, people look at both front benches and see political careerists who have followed the same academic and career paths, rarelly if ever had a proper job outside politics, who come from atypical backgrounds (is Milliband, as the son of a Marxist academic, any more typical than Cameron?) and who never say anything that hasn’t been scripted or ran past a focus group in advance. No amount of manufactured class envy can hide the fact that in far too many respects Ed and Dave (and George) are more like each other than the rest of us….

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  He Has a house worth £1.6 million. In the opinion of most sensible people that means he has assets of more than £1 million ergo he is a millionaire. Doubtless, you will now deny the laws of mathemetics. As I said you dislike Mr Osborne simply because his views do not tally precisely with your own. Still my favourite: “Labour gain, why not? (Eastleigh).

        • Hookeslaw

          Pathetic. Blame it on Blair like he had held the labour party hostage.

          • David Lindsay

            He did.

            • Hookeslaw

              Saddo

    • Archimedes

      “that make it possible for them to create the demand for, say, cocaine, or sadomasochistic prostitutes?”

      Jeez, David — you say that like it’s a bad thing. I mean, lighten up, man.

      • David Lindsay

        Thatcherism speaks. Not Thatcher. But Thatcherism.

        • Hookeslaw

          Absurd tripe. You merely twich like someone undergoing shock treatment. No rationality at all.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Love it!

    • kyalami

      I can only assume you believe someone reads your verbose meanderings.

      • David Lindsay

        I don’t assume it.I know it.

    • Chris Morriss

      What do you mean by “needing immigration”. Needing it for what? Perhaps for having a client population for increasingly feckless government spending?

      • David Lindsay

        As much as anything else, to push the wheelchairs and wipe the backsides of a pre-existing population which thought so little of itself that it could not even be bothered to reproduce. Population groups that do this are replaced. It is as simple as that.

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