Monday, March 16, 2009

Tom Harris MP: ‘When did “Labour” stop meaning “work” and start to mean “benefits”?’

The Times takes up Cranmer’s favoured theme when it talks of ‘an age when even our religious leaders are reluctant to deal in moral absolutes’. They are so busy formulating their Hickian relativist theologies for postmodernity that they have forgotten the very definition of orthodoxy and the meaning of morality. So politicians enter to fill the vacuum – especially the Christians who are ‘born-again’,* as The Times describes the MP for Glasgow South, Tom Harris.

His motives have been judged, his understanding questioned, his character impugned and his integrity trashed. One may therefore conclude that he must be doing something right. It is not on a matter which is overtly religious, for it concerns carnal matters such as sex, marriage, babies, children and temporal matters like welfare dependency. Yet these are undoubtedly issues of fundamental importance to people of all faiths, though Mr Harris is quick to reject any hint of John Major’s ‘Back to Basics’ crusade. Yet he confesses: ‘I remember scoffing when John Major said we should understand a bit less and condemn a bit more, but he was right.’

Tom Harris observes: ‘Politicians are not expected to talk about moral absolutes. Raising questions about other people’s choices, after all, could offend someone and nothing is less acceptable these days than causing someone offence.’

Cranmer is of the opinion that since the Church of England has ceased talking about moral absolutes, it is imperative that politicians do so. Even if, as a consequence, they are despised, ridiculed, misrepresented and harassed, even by those who profess to be Christian.

Why should any Christian fear being associated with such manifest common sense positions as discouraging under-age sex, encouraging abstinence, promoting marriage, or exhorting the virtues of honest work over the devastation of perpetual welfare? Like the eminent Frank Field, Tom Harris speaks with clarity and common sense on Labour’s catastrophic welfare dependency culture. He has dared to mention the unmentionable: he has had the audacity to challenge Marxist-Socialist orthodoxy. He has simply said that the welfare state should be a safeguard against poverty, not a way of life.

And so he has become a voice crying in the wilderness.

He has been judged to be ‘self-righteous’, severely criticised by ‘some on the Left’, accused of ‘insulting women’, ‘attacking the powerless’ (young single mothers), derided for saying Iain Duncan Smith ‘has a lot to offer’, misrepresented as condemning teenagers, and pilloried for receiving praise from Peter Hitchens who calls him a ‘hero for the working class’ for daring to say:

‘Teenage girls shouldn’t be having underage sex. Why? Because it’s wrong. Teenage girls shouldn’t choose to have babies as an alternative to getting an education and a career. Why? Because it’s wrong. Parents shouldn’t teach their children that a lifetime on benefits is attractive or even acceptable. Why? Because it’s wrong.’

Mr Hitchens is right to highlight Tom Harris’ astute observation: ‘The most vociferous critics of the dependency culture and of deliberate worklessness have always been those who live in the same communities, those who resent paying their taxes to help other people waste their lives.’

And so, to the despair and disgust of his Labour colleagues, The Mail on Sunday has welcomed Tom Harris ‘to the ranks of the wild-eyed extremists’.

But this is not a party political issue of left or right: it is about education, society, civilisation and the quest for the common good. Tom Harris criticises the deterioration in standards and of attitudes – as all Christians might – because we have reached the perverse point of universal acceptance of indolence and laziness: a state in which able-bodied people are encouraged to live off benefits for years, if not for life, and drug addicts and drunkards are content to be subsidised by the taxpayer in order to protect them from the harsh and cruel realities of life in Brown’s Britain.

The Welfare State can only function with the patient consent of the people; with the compassionate understanding that some of their compatriots are less fortunate and worthy of charitable donations to alleviate their plight. But the abused taxpayer is fast approaching the threshold of tolerance, for it is no longer acceptable to very many millions of hard-working individuals and struggling families that they should be taxed so highly in order that others may lie in bed until midday and abuse the benefits system because they cannot be bothered to seek gainful employment. This is their ‘choice’, and it is not beyond criticism or judgment.

Tom Harris says he has ‘been taken aback’ by the number of people who have told him how ‘relieved’ they are that he has ‘come out and said what to most people has been blindingly obvious for years’. But he also observes those who are ‘uneasy at a Labour politician making judgments about other people’s choices’. He says: ‘Common sense dictates that, in general, children benefit from having the love of a mother and a father.’ And this, he is assured, is ‘adopting the rhetoric of the Right-wing’.

But Mr Harris has confronted his Labour critics head on, asking: ‘What kind of society have we created when the above paragraph will inevitably be seen by some as offensive, narrow-minded and intolerable? As for the accusation of giving comfort to the “Right-wing”, when did it become “Left-wing” to tolerate such a colossal waste of lives? Why is it “Left-wing” to allow millions of people to remain on benefits instead of working? When did “Labour” stop meaning “work” and start to mean “benefits”?

He might as well have said ‘Labour isn’t working’.

Tom Harris has learnt that Labour do not want the facts: they do not want to confront the chronic social problems caused by teenage pregnancy; they do not want to hear of radical solutions first proposed by Frank Field as far back as 1997 when he was appointed to ‘think the unthinkable’; and they do not want to hear the wisdom of Iain Duncan Smith or the insights of the Centre for Social Justice.

Labour do not want Tom Harris.

The Conservative Party should talk to him. Rather like Frank Field, he is a man with whom they could do business.

*Cranmer is intrigued by this ‘born-again’ epithet. It appears to be almost universally used in a derogatory sense - implying some sort of charismatic Protestant fundamentalism - but Scripture is clear that all Christians are by definition ‘born again’, or else they shall not see the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:3). Does The Times talk of 'Allah-submitting Muslims'? Waheguru-worshipping Sikhs? Such tautologies are not deemed necessary...

25 Comments:

Anonymous mckenzie said...

The idea of being 'born again' is just too painful and has to be derided. Its derision is a psychological coping mechanism for the narcissistic and self assured personality. But the Gospel will always continue to touch human souls, who will be born again of spirit into God's love and truth.

The struggle of persecution and derision will continue, but the born again will rise up renewed and cleansed from the waters, with new purpose and mission to continue the fight against darkness and lies.

16 March 2009 at 09:01  
Anonymous Asian Colonial Subject said...

Perhaps Your Grace would like to recommend that the "Labour Party" change their name to "Welfare Party" :D

Just a thought

16 March 2009 at 09:36  
Anonymous bergen said...

Thirty years ago Mr Harris' views would have been shared by a considerable number of old Labour backbenchers.These would have reached Parliament after,perhaps,a career on the shopfloor as a union representative.Now we are cursed by the politically-correct career party apparachnik who leaves student politics to be a parliamentary aide or reseacher and then a seat.Knowledge of real life?Nil.

16 March 2009 at 10:43  
Blogger Theo said...

It is difficult to think of Tom Harris as a born again brother in Christ when I look at his voting record. The Christian Institute's website keeps a record of voting by MPs (http://www.christian.org.uk/mpvotes.php?selection=&value1=259&submit1=SHOW&value2=1) and Tom Harris appears to have taken the anti Christian stance on nearly every issue.

Why did it take him so long to realise the error of his ways and can we look forward to voting a little less with his secularist cronies.

Welfare damages the very people it is trying to help and robs them of the dignity of being made in God's image. Socialism knows this but needs a dependant and dependable vote to keep it in power.

16 March 2009 at 10:47  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Having scrutinised Tom Harris' voting record I'd say he was as much to blame for the state this country is in as anyone. He doesn't exactly rebel against the Whip does he.

I think this sudden Damascene convertion is because he's seen the writing on the wall. He's looking to preserve his seat at the next general election.

This is grandstanding, plain and simple. Where was his common sense in the years he's enjoyed shoving his snout in the trough? Why wail and gnash his teeth at the rotten, festering system he helped usher in?

He's nothing more than a cynical, coniving opportunist who thinks we're all stupid.

Too little, far too damn late, Your Grace.

16 March 2009 at 11:11  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

Gnostic, I have to take issue with you.

I don't get that "cynical, coniving opportunist who thinks we're all stupid" vibe. Ok, so he's a bit vain, but it goes with the territory, but I have read closely everything he's said on his blog over several months -mainly because I wanted to understand the enemy - and it turns out he has really had a change of heart over many things.

Christians believe in metanoia as part of the process.

At first, Tom more or less came over as a government toady and his voting record is there for all to see, but I have discerned a change of heart in the man and I believe it is born out of sincere convictions.

Whether he is in the wrong party or not is almost irrelevant. All the main parties are morally bankrupt and a change to the Tories is not going to change the moral temper of the country unless the establishment tells him to.

16 March 2009 at 12:40  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Wrinkled Weasel.

What you say has merit. He may indeed have had a change of heart. It's the timing I find troublesome. That and the fact he was a toady right up until it became obvious Labour was in the deep brown smelly stuff electionwise.

Growing a backbone when he did seems rather opportune. It's a tactic I've seen many times in the past - I'm not quite as wrinkled as you but I'm getting there :0). Success depends on how much damage was previously inflicted. I fear the damage is too great for me to accept his change of heart at face value. That and I'm too much of a cynic.

16 March 2009 at 12:58  
Blogger Andrew Jewell said...

I have only just read this story on your Grace's post but if the facts are as you report I congratulate Mr Harris for what he has said.
It may be partly posturing and grandstanding as others have said but this does not take away from how refreshing it is to hear such views nowadays.
Moral absolutes! How dare we even suggest such words! Right? Wrong?
We are definitely treading on some thin ice to talk in such terms. Would we not be better to suffer the under-age sex epidemic, drinking culture, welfare dependent society that results from denying such black and white terms?

Methinks not

16 March 2009 at 14:06  
Blogger Theo said...

If indeed Tom Harris's conversion has been damascene I would like to hear his account of this conversion that I may join in with the joy in heaven over the sinner that repents.

Is not his conversion the real story and not his change in political heart? Let's hear the cause rather than merely the effect.

16 March 2009 at 14:18  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

Andrew Jewell

I have just bee looking at your blogs and they are very encouraging to see. Seeing them kids in their school environment, which looks fresh and futuristic, made me think of my school days, and how stuffy and antiquated they seem in comparison. It serves to remind me that there are still many decent folk here in our nation. Sadly though, what you have going there is not representative of the nation as a whole. Its going to take some fighting for if you want to keep it. If you don't agree, consider the state of affairs in around the country, and how quickly this came about.

What am I suggesting? I have no idea. I have run out of ideas.

16 March 2009 at 14:26  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

I am happy if Mr Harris has indeed "seen the light" but even those with a fair degree a scepticism cannot but be pleased that he is pointing the way to right thinking in a plain and helpful way.

We need all the help we can get to turn around the effects of single motherhood which brings with it the power to secure the fruits of other people's labour without any responsibility to go with it. Lord Acton had a desription of such conduct!

More seriously, the American commentator Ann Coulter recently observed that single mothers do tend to enjoy a certain sainted status with the liberal press yet if any other sector of the community could be proven to have such a direct negative impact upon the statistics for crime depression drug addiction etc there would be an absolute outcry.

For the avoidance of doubt for any newcomers to this site, I stress that the need to be intolerant of all that promotes harmful behaviour, but utterly supportive of all trying to put themselves on a better path, is motivated not be any desire to be hurtful but to ensure that all young people enjoy a healthy and happy development and not the state sponsored misery that is all too evident amongst the people that Mr Harris is talking about.

16 March 2009 at 17:16  
Blogger Microcosm said...

The ease with which politicians change sides is evidence enough that neither have any principals.

Labour has destroyed the Country, now tories are going to get to take it out on the jobless, nothing changes. except that Tom will get a cushy number shafting us twice.

The country is growing tired of the heavy taxation, to pay for this shower of shits in parlaiment.

Tired of paying for the other shower of shits in EU parlaiment, paying for all the think tanks and beurocratic shower of shits, who constantly come up with new ways to rob and steal off us, laughing and snearing at their own sleaze, in the belief they are untouchable.

Your Grace I think the tories are welcome to Mr Tom, because Britain does not want him.

This shower should not be allowed to live amongst us, if we ever want a decent way of life again.

16 March 2009 at 17:53  
Anonymous len said...

Your Grace re born again,
The indwelling Spirit of God is bestowed by God as a gift to human individuals by Gods choice.
Gods Spirit cannot be conferred or granted by one human to another human.No human individual can achieve or earn the Spirit of God, either by works, or deeds,or by baptism, or by reciting a creed, or by joining a church. Neither can Gods Spirit be obtained by vote or designation of a group of human beings, or from a church, or from ANY doctrines minister, or a priest, or rabbi, or mullah, or imam.
Not all professing christians are born of the Spirit many are still carnal trying to earn their salvation.

16 March 2009 at 19:58  
Anonymous Mr Ecks said...

Harris is trying to cover his own backside. It a mini "British Jobs for British workers" survival ploy. Parrot some of the things the people in the street say and hope they will be mug enough to vote you back in.

16 March 2009 at 20:06  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

They are just panicking now because the BNP are picking up speed and decoding the Marxists agenda to destabilise society.

Undermine Marriage, christianity, divide families, undermine teachers and Parental authority etc, promote 24 hr drinking, promote division within society promoting homosexuality, feminist agenda, the mass immigration of diverse cultures, the destruction of marriage is simply divide and conquer.

As society collapse, then of course we will need a police state to protect us all, see how it works.

They are creating our problems.

16 March 2009 at 20:13  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

When you read Adrian's comment, as daft as it sounds, who can argue against it?

All the things that he lists are being undermined. We are in one hell of a mess. How the hell did they pull it off in such a short space of time? And America, a new president that does not even have a frickin birth certificate, and there is one letter different in his name to that of the lunatic who is supposedly responsible for terrorising the western world. How the hell in a million years did they end up with a black man called Barrack Obama? Write all this down into a linear narrative, and it would make the Old Testament read like Charles Dickins, slightly more believable.

16 March 2009 at 20:52  
Blogger Theo said...

mckenzie

You sound as though you've just spotted it - congratulations.

Peace be with you for He who is Lord of all is in control and this "one hell of a mess" will soon be sorted.

Should we also congratulate Tom Harris on spotting it because he's sure way ahead of the colleagues who made the mess this side of the pond

BTW Some Republicans say that the reason they can't find Osama is that he's had a shave and he's sitting in the White House!

16 March 2009 at 21:08  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

It reminds me of the Atlantis mythology. People will soon ask what happened to Great Britain, if it ever even existed?

16 March 2009 at 21:12  
Blogger Theo said...

Adrian P

What you have described is a phenomenum call Crisis Intervention Technique. You first create a problem then step forward with the claim "Don't worry I'll sort it out" You can then impose painful solutions and you have control; the populus being forever grateful.

A variation on this technique is to create an imaginary problem such as saying the earth is going to overheat if you don't impose restrictions on people's lifestyles. Better still you can bribe scientists with huge grants to say that the earth is overheating. Marvellous strategy - you can control everything and make lots of money to spend on your favourite Marxist policies.

16 March 2009 at 21:18  
Blogger the ink slinger said...

We concur with Bergen (16th March, 10:43) and would add that the problem with these politics graduate apparatchiks is that they are willing to sacrifice workable policy in favour of ideological orthodoxy.

Which, frankly, makes one wonder what they were studying for those three years at university.

It certainly wasn't the political history of the 20th century.

That is all.

16 March 2009 at 21:20  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

Slightly O/T but interesting article here

http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/news/uk/u-s-christian-ministers-deported-from-uk

16 March 2009 at 22:56  
Blogger ZZMike said...

One of our American writers gave a talk recently, on the subject of why socialism is not the cure-all that many seem to hope it is.

He says that there are four things that give people deep satisfaction in life: family, community, vocation, and faith (not in any order, nor are all 4 necessary for a person's satisfaction (which he says is what we really mean when we say "happiness" - as in, "the pursuit of")).

What's wrong with the European model, he says, is that it "enfeebles every one of them".

"... When the government says it will take some of the trouble out of doing the things that fmilies and communities evolved to do, it inevitably takes some of the action away from families and communities, and the web frays, and eventually disintegrates."

Happiness of the People

McKenzie & Adrian P: It goes back to Gramsci. The Left is good at the Waiting Game. Unlike our younger folk, who want everything sorted out in an hour (with 4 commercial breaks), they're content to see the Fall in their grandson's lifetimes.

Just so long as we keep working toward the Fall.

Len: "No human individual can achieve or earn the Spirit of God, either by works, or deeds, or by baptism, or by reciting a creed, or by joining a church."

I feel much better now, knowing that there's really no point. Either I've been Elected, in which case I might as well have a jolly good time 'til then, or I haven't, in which case I'd be insane not to have a jolly good time 'til them.

Theo: "What you have described is a phenomenum call Crisis Intervention Technique." I think you've got it. It's also a method favored by siblings: you go in and hit your brother, he cries "foul", and you end up with the ice cream cone. Marxists have been doing that for years. Communism can't take root in a plentiful society, so they create revolution and crisis, so they can step in and "save us".

AT the end of Morris' talk, he gives a plausible explanation of why the elites are so daft: this new generation of elites have spent their whole lives in "the upper-middle-class bubble". Harvard and Yale over here, Oxford and Cambridge over there; living in gated communities, self-congratulating and self-promoting, but always separated from the working class.

17 March 2009 at 01:31  
Blogger Louise Mills said...

Why do you attribute welfare dependency solely to 'New Labour'. I grew up in the late '80s, early '90s and there was plenty of 'welfare dependency' around then. I was brought up with moral absolutism. I was taught by nuns. In their view adultery was wrong, divorce was wrong, sex before marriage was wrong, promiscuity was wrong. Are you prepared to go that far? Maybe you should look at the personal lives of politicians of all parties and see if they measure up to the moral standards they are attempting to impose on others.

Hypocrites are endlessly entertaining.

17 March 2009 at 06:27  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

Louise,

I remind you of William Wilberforce's interesting question.

Who is the greater benefit to humankind? The hypocrite who points the way to virtue, or the "honest man" who diverts the nation towards disaster.

The problem with shouting "Hypocrite" too vigorously is that some, who are not perfect, are thereby silenced when even their tainted efforts would be appreciated as a useful shoulder to the wheel.

17 March 2009 at 18:34  
Anonymous len said...

Martin sewell, Without an absolute with what do you measure anything?
From the best,
Or the worst,
This is the problem with our society there is no right and no wrong, every man does what is right in HIS own eyes!

17 March 2009 at 18:55  

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