Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ken Clarke: David Cameron is taking on the attitudes of America’s ‘religious right’

Cranmer wondered how long it would be before Ken Clarke’s real thoughts on David Cameron were disclosed. We already know that Mr Clarke has variously described some of his leader’s policies as ‘silly’, ‘right-wing nationalist’, ‘xenophobic’, ‘head-banging’ or ‘absurd’.

But David Cameron has made his commitment to supporting marriage through the tax system foundational to his social policy. And foundational it ought to be. The laudable work done by Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice - not to mention common sense - has persuaded the Conservative Party to reintroduce tax breaks for married couples, recognising that marriage is a fundamental building block of a stable society, and the more it is encouraged and the more it succeeds, the less the state has to spend on the appalling consequences of family breakdown. There is empirical evidence which inclines one to the view that marriage is not only of considerable benefit to those who are married, but also to their children and to society. Mr Cameron has argued consistently that the decline of marriage has contributed significantly to the ‘broken society’ which the Conservative Party is pledged to restore.

But Ken Clarke dismisses support for marriage as ‘social engineering’, and observes a touch of the American ‘religious right’ entering Conservative thinking. He proudly boasts: “I got rid of the married couples’ allowance,” and added: “I really don't think it's anything to do with politicians whether you (get married) and most of the younger people I know don't seem very keen on it. My view of Conservatism is that it's not for us to tell you (what to do through) the tax system – my wife didn't put up with me because I was getting £150 by way of tax allowance. This is social engineering, for God's sake, and when I joined the party we weren't in favour of it.”

Cranmer is not quite sure why Mr Clarke’s wife ever put up with him, but the observation that state support for marriage ‘is social engineering for God’s sake’ is most apt. It ought to be evident to all right-minded politicians that marriage is a union observed in all cultures, and seems, according to Aristotle, to exist by nature. Marriage in the Bible is essential for the functioning of society, and is the model used to explain the mystery of Christ’s relationship to the church (Eph 5:25-32). The Church of England ‘affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman’. This has its basis in the Old Testament, where YHWH says: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Gen 2:18). It continues: ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (v24). Although these verses do not purport to define marriage, they do describe its origin, and are therefore crucial for understanding the Bible’s teaching on marriage.

The state’s recognition of marriage is indeed social engineering for God’s sake, for all manner of issues of family breakdown, poverty, social disorder and crime are inseparable from it. The poorer parents are, the more they struggle to raise their children. If they are penalised financially for staying together, the more they may be inclined to separate. And so single mothers abound, and it is the children who suffer.

Cranmer would rather have David Cameron’s ‘religious right’ than Ken Clarke’s secular left any day. But it does not have to be sullied with America’s notion thereof, for England’s religious right is the true foundation of Conservatism, which has historically been fused with the Church of England.


Anonymous martin sewell said...

It appears that social liberals are keen on "evidence based" policy decisions - except where the evidence is wholly contrary to their destructive prejudices.

Those of us with a religious approach need not only rely upon that as the basis for supporting the promotion of marriage - the research evidence in every regard shows that marriage is the best context for children to be brought up in. There really is no argument on the rationality of the case.

Recent American research has raised the conclusion that when the evidence is reanalysed on the legitimate concern over the disproportionate number of young black men in prison then it is the factor of single parenthood rather than race that becomes the better predictor of ending up in prison.
There are many solid God fearing black married parents and their children seem to avoid the negative outcomes so often associated with the whole community in the prejudiced mind. If correct, then this is a major challenge to many liberal dogma's.

How often do we hear from the left that a particular piece of legislation or Government policy is needed to "send a message"? Then, why should we not send the only message that would guarantee welfare improvement for children and public funding savings for the taxpayer to say nothing of the improvement of society by having fewer drug takers, truants, classroom disrupters, alcohol abusers, depressives, behaviourally challenged children, alienated young people and hooligans.

I have no doubt that there are many single parents who do their best and make proper sacrifices; many can succeed but the odds are stacked against them, and the evidence is incontestable that, on a statistical basis, the single parent family is a socially damaging phenomena and we need to minimise it by all means properly and compassionately possible.

Clark ought not to disparage the American religious right who have got this aspect of policy correct. Every responsible parent would want their children to enjoy the fruits of a happy marriage.If it cannot happen then the family , and to a lesser degree society, should be supportive. We should not however elevate victimhood to the norm or encourage choices that we know are collective harmful to society and the individual alike.

28 January 2009 at 09:18  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Supporting marriage through the tax system is 'social engineering' whereas paying for child care costs so mothers go to work isn't; giving free housing to single mothers isn't; giving gay couples the same recognition & benefits of married couples isn't; etc etc ad nauseam

Isn't all social policy 'social engineering' by definition?

Ken Clarke is a baffoon

28 January 2009 at 09:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken's right on this.

It's not for a Tory government, or any government come to that, to tell people how to manage their lovelife.

As for the biblical quotes (from YHWH or whoever), I am reasonably certain that one could support almost any position from a biblical quote. Including, most probably, the right to abuse one's own livestock should one so desire (no offence to the Welsh intended).

28 January 2009 at 09:46  
Anonymous Nigel Sedgwick said...

You report that Mr Clark claims to have abolished the 'tax incentive' of the married couples' allowance. Though I cannot remember all the detail, and would prefer not to spend 2 or so hours looking it all up, I think the situation is more complicated than that.

Nowadays in the UK, married persons can transfer between themselves, any portion of their personal allowance unused against their own income. This is not a facility available to those just living together.

Thus there is support through taxation allowances for those who are married. Although there is 'devil in the detail' (particularly because of graduated income tax rates), I currently believe that this arrangement is more equitable overall, and often more advantageous, than the old married couples allowance. It is particularly supportive for married couples where one of them does not work and dedicates their time to childcare and other domestic work.

Best regards

28 January 2009 at 10:29  
Anonymous Cranmer's Curate said...

It is mystifying as to why Mr Cameron brought this gentleman back onto the front-bench. Perhaps he thinks he is a vote-winner. But the effect of pronouncements such as these from the secular liberal kind of Conservative is to add weight to the argument that a new political party is needed in Britain to represent those of us of various ethnic and social backgrounds who want to stand up for Judeo-Christian values.

I make no pretensions to be being politically savvy & I try to keep politics out of the pulpit but I would guess that such a party could do quite well in Conservative seats to start with - perhaps in Mr Clarke's.

28 January 2009 at 10:38  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The Settlers who landed at Plymouth Rock carried The Geneva Bible of John Calvin which James I had found rather too republican for his taste and commissioned his own.

The Anglican Church followed those it had persecuted as Nonconformists to the New World and soon had universities and church taxes in New England.

The nature of Presbyterianism and Baptism and Congregationalism in the Us context is lost on people like Ken Clarke who grew up under the aegis of an Erastian Church dedicated to little but ritual and bland statements of political innocuity.

The Americans whose Episcopal Church is similar in that it espouses vogue causes but cannot fill pews, is notable for its elitism in having less than 0.6% Americans on its rolls.

The "religious right" as snotty Europeans smarmily denote US Protestantism - and it is largely Protestantism they condemn and disparage - is true to its origins as fleeing State persecution in Europe when a previous desire for Statist Conformity made Belief subject to State doctrine.

These churches are membership churches where members put more than 25 pence in an envelope in the collection plate; it also provides more overseas aid that the European statelets spend in taxpayer funds.

Europeans are State-Worshippers and in The State have found their god - Mammon is their master and they have lost sight of the Protestant Heritage that made Northern Europe great. Ken Clarke is another narcissistic politician - a failed Tony Blair

28 January 2009 at 11:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Clarke's point is surely that the State has improperly involved itself in the formalities of people's relationships with one another (ie marriage, etc) because of the elaborate and incredibly complex nature of the benefits system.

Incidentally, whilst yet to find a biblical quote which endorses Welsh hillside practices, Proverbs 12:10 does offer some guidance: "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." Note: 'cruel' in this context being a relatively mild biblical rebuke, ie no mention of stoning, etc.

28 January 2009 at 12:03  
Blogger McKenzie said...

The Tories have no clue.

Welsh Hillside practices:

Leviticus 18:23

Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

It certainly is confusion, but don't knock it 'till you've tried it I say.

By the way way, its probably paranoia, but I am still accessing the Internet, its getting harder, but I non the less.

28 January 2009 at 12:34  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Any more of this racial abuse against Welsh people and I will gather an army of 10,000, and we will burn effigies of the late Archbishop Cranmer, and also burn the American flag which is bulk standard procedure anyway for out of control and sad ethnic barbarian loony burning watchit right...allah akuoobar!

AND NO SHEEP CARTOONS EITHER!!! Or it will increase to an army of 30,0000 (which may include one or two Polish from llanelli, but they are not bad eggs).

28 January 2009 at 12:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheep still arousing deep passions in the Principality I see.

28 January 2009 at 12:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Clarke is a self opinionated dinosaur and will become an embarassment to the conservative party.
Whatever where they thinking of?

28 January 2009 at 13:26  
Blogger Dave said...

Your Grace,
You wrote "Mr Cameron has argued consistently that the decline of marriage has contributed significantly to the ‘broken society’

Kurt Vonnegut opined in his excellent 1996 book "Timequake" that today's broken society is due to the loss of the extended family. I think that he has a point. How many fragile young relationships/marriages could have been saved if there was an extended family around the young couple? How many children are neglected and/or abused because there are no aunties/grannies to turn to when baby won't stop crying?
The Asian immigrants still have extended families while we are scattered half way around the world.
Marriage is only part of it. The extended family with its support structure is essential.
The state cannot be a substitute, as much as it tries to enforce its will on the people

28 January 2009 at 13:41  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

Good points Voyager and Dave.

Whatever Governments do in this area they are constantly sending social policy "messages". The only question for a sensible person is whether we send a mesage that contributes to the welfare of individual and society alike, or waffle on and watch the social fabric continue to crumble.

It is, as our admirable American friends would put it, a "No Brainer".

I post having returned from work at a Family Proceedings Court which, as usual, is predominently awash with the family problems of the unmarried with children being used as pawns right left and centre. I am not saying the married do not have their share of problems but the evidence on the ground soon tells you where the bulk of the problems are arising

28 January 2009 at 14:01  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Voyager has made an outstanding point, but it is clear from the present anarchic conditions which we are in now, that there has to be some form of social encouragement. In days of old, there was an ideal that was held in the subconscious which went without saying, but now we have a free for all situation where young people are clueless about how to conduct themselves.

I do not like the idea of social engineering my self, but surely we need rules, guidelines about what is acceptable: a direction in which society as a whole can look to for guidance. I saw on the news yesterday a report of a baby that was taken from its grandparents because they are considered too old, and given to homosexuals instead....sorry Cranmer but how fu....g horrible! I would hang myself at the first opportunity. If you cannot see what is so wrong about this, then therein lies my point. This goes beyond party politics, and I will admit that in the past the Conservatives have been a point of reference with regards. Bringing back this fat loony is a mistake that will cost them dearly. Dave cannot see the game which Gordon plays. Gordon IS a master at this craft. He has fooled everyone into playing this silly game of double speak. It has become a war of words to fool the public, using propaganda which theY don't believe anyway. Instead of engaging the people with common sense and playing it straight, Dave has chosen to continue to engage the enemy behind the veil of deception and chicanery instead of using the language and thoughts that is of the real world: OR IS THE REAL WORLD SO TERRIFYINGLY HORRIBLE THAT THE TRUTH WOULD SET US ALL IN STONE?

28 January 2009 at 14:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may be reckless of me to say so, but I think that most teenage girls would inherently prefer to be married mothers than unmarried. What takes them in a different direction is the benefits system (what they know of it and what they see of their parents' situation) and, to a lesser extent, mixed sex secondary schooling. These are both implemented by the government.

28 January 2009 at 14:54  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

I hope the Tories lose the next election.

28 January 2009 at 15:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God created people to live as family units, ie father , mother, children living and growing up in a secure loving enviroment.
Satan knows that to destabalise society he must attack this family unit, he does this by magnifying the rights of the individual over the family unit.
Is this not clever?
So as soon as someone starts promoting family values , someone else will come along to attack these values!.
This constant attack on the family( In the name of freedom of the individual, )is the reason we live in a broken, disintegrating, society.

28 January 2009 at 17:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the lack of moral guidance by the church, which in days gone by, taught the lesser educated how to behave in a civilised and humane way towards each other, that is partially responsible for the breakdown in society.

Similarly, marriage asks a commitment of love, honour and mutual respect towards each other.

Why is that so wrong?

Governments are keen to preach (especially this one), about every aspect of our lives. The best lessons are the old ones.

28 January 2009 at 17:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clark has a fair point, but it is an ill judged one.

Yes; conservatism does not favor social engineering.

However it does favor traditions and traditional values and culture. Change is inevitable, but change should be measured and carefully considered to be in the best interests of the individual and the collective, when ever possible.

Conservatism in itself has NOTHING whatsoever to do with CAPITALISM or socialism. Aspects of these things should only be considered desirable, when they prove themselves to be so, by repeated trials and approbations.

Keep what is good or works well. Change what is bad or works like a Labour government has been running the show for far too long.

Therefore as Corporate Capitalism has now shown itself to be run by Evil and acts more like a bunch of Mafia stile Communists, then free market capitalists. The Conservative Party is well within its ideological dogma, to remove ourselves from the International Banking System. This is much easier then it may sound.

It will not, ONLY because The Conservative Party is only conservative by name. In practice it is a dumping ground for reactionary emotions, that promotes and enacts establishment agendas.

As The Labour Party are a dumping ground for lazy idiots and fools, that promotes and enacts establishment agendas.

A system run by the banksters, financed by the banksters, and used to rob blind the ordinary citizen, by those self same banksters. Is the system that got us where we are today. It is, as far as I can see, not a conservative system, but a Communist of Fascist system of dictatorial centralized control.

When this system works in our favor, we have the right to be content and carry on being law abiding tax payers.

When the system robs us blind, lies to us ALL of the time, owns ALL of our media and ALL of our parliament. We have every right to destroy it, or change it to a better one. This applies just as much to people who describe themselves as either conservative, liberal, nationalist, or indeed socialist.

Getting back to Mr Kenneth Clark, bless him.

We would not need social engineering to re establish marriage. If our past governments in conspiracy with our establishment, had not spent so much time and enormous effort socially engineering the destruction of marriage, in the first place.

Atlas shrugged

28 January 2009 at 19:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another point sorry.

Your Grace

When Kenneth Clark says Camerons policies are,

‘silly’, ‘right-wing nationalist’, ‘xenophobic’, ‘head-banging’ or ‘absurd’ do you believe KC actually believes that David Camerons actions in government are going to be these things. Or do you think, it could well just be a bit of a scam??????

I personally think it is a dishonest nice guy nasty guy scam, but I wish I did. So does about 60% of the country, as far as I can tell.

I would go as far as saying that if the people of the UK actually believed Cameron was in practice going to be head banging, right-wing nationalist and xenophobic. He would win by the greatest whole continent sized landslide in British history. Whats more the people, without of course The BBC, would forgive him for any absurd or silly bits, for twenty years or more.

ACTIONS speak louder then words.

Until we actually see Cameron in action, he could just as easily turn out to be a later day Karl Marx, Pol-Pot, Joe Stalin or Adolf Hitler.

Or if God has really eternally forsaken us, ( and lets face it who could really blame him if he did?), another Tony Blair or Gordon Brown?

Atlas shrugged

28 January 2009 at 19:58  
Anonymous old mouse said...

Mr. Clark is fat, has a wife and, presumably, a family. He and they are obviously well-heeled; though, in spite of all that, his benefit to society is questionable. There are exceptions to all rules; but I expect there's a reason for the exception.

Several on this thread go on about how the children suffer under single parentage. Two points:
i) presumably the 'parent' also suffers: especially if he or she gives up the children - when they are too young - to outside carers and, therefore, to communal conditions.

ii) society suffers when its children grow up in such conditions - for a variety of reasons that extend from the amount and quality of love they experience to the unsavory examples provided by criminal elements they encounter, having been shoved out into the world. In those conditions the people who are supposed to protect them are often the ones who will most exploit them: just as when predators attack a small animal separated from its 'nest'.

As for the mod term 'extended family' ---- family is family; and mother and child do not a family make! Family is a collection of people related by blood and ... oh, yes ... marriage. Non-family units - individuals - who float about unconnected and unsupported (morally and materially) by their own kin have very difficult lives - existences - indeed; even if the individuals are moral and law-abiding.

So I say that the place to learn about love, responsibility, and communal values is within a family that understands those values. Otherwise society freefalls into a downward spiral of selfish, uncaring, individuals; people whose only understandings are about exploiting and being exploited.

And the 'human' animal understands exploitation more subtly than any other. We need only look at our politicians to see the truth of that.

28 January 2009 at 20:55  
Blogger Theresa said...

Your Grace,

Here's something that will cheer you up;

28 January 2009 at 23:51  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Your Grace,

Questions of policy, whether on taxes, the family, or anything else, were, I suspect, probably pretty low down on Cameron's list of reasons. Two other considerations must have ranked much higher, both of them having to do with the fact that a general election can't be very far off.

(1) Does Clark attract more voters than he scares away? Cameron's answer is presumably Yes.

(2) The LBJ argument, I forget know who he said it about, but "It's better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in." I beg Your Grace's forgiveness for a certain coarseness of language.

Your blessings, my Lord.

29 January 2009 at 01:02  
Anonymous Jack C said...

Clarke is either a fool or a knave.
Abolishing the married couples' allowance was an act of social engineering.
Only it was his kind of social engineering.

29 January 2009 at 11:15  
Blogger EUBanana said...

I'd rather have less tax for all than less tax for some who obey Party doctrine on how they live their lives.

29 January 2009 at 15:14  
Anonymous We are in trouble said...

Infowars Radio

29 January 2009 at 20:22  

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