Sunday, December 16, 2007

Polly Toynbee: Is an Egregious Hack

Well this is impressive; Polly Toynbee arguing that anyone who disagrees with ID cards is objectively pro-illegal immigrants being beaten up. Seriously; the argument is not that we need ID cards to keep the immigrants out, but that we need to cut the government some slack in order to stop them beating up illegal immigrants.

This really is amazing; let's see a sample.
Failed asylum seekers who can't return are deliberately starved with nothing but a £35 voucher to be cashed in one shop, with no change, never mind the price of a bus fare. Meltem Avcil is just one girl caught in periodic sweeps, which at the present rate of removal would take 25 years and £4.5bn to clear the backlog. For real suffering, the treatment of these migrants beats all else - and it's time for a controlled amnesty after, say, four years. But here is a clash between the citizens' right to control the borders that define their citizenship versus the human rights of the helpless and destitute living here anyway.

How do you rank the liberties of other extreme sufferers? The frail and lonely are badly neglected with ever less care as councils tighten their criteria. Young children all alone caring for sick parents have their childhood and their future destroyed. Prison suicides, and now prisoners shamefully locked in for 23 hours a day. Abused children suffer silently in direct proportion to social workers' overburdened caseloads. Thousands dying slowly in agony are denied by parliament the right to go at a time of their choosing. Evidence recently from the Sutton Trust report yet again shows that birth is destiny: poor children stand virtually no chance of escaping poor lives. Meanwhile, exhausted families of disabled children and adolescents struggle to get even the most basic help. Add here all those whose acute suffering can only be alleviated by a kindlier, more generous state. For them a better funded "nanny state" is the solution, not the threat.
But who is deliberately starving failed asylum seekers? Who runs the prisons? Who sets the financial targets for those councils?

Polly, the Cossacks work for the Czar. All of these things, just like ID cards, CCTV and DNA databases, are the work of the government you have been propagandising for as long as I can remember. And every damn time they have done them, you have been the first to say that we ought to put up with it in case they get round to passing the corporate manslaughter bill, or expanding Sure Start, or standing up to George Bush about...well...anything.

And what happened to any of these things? The radical second term still hasn't arrived. Sure Start was tossed back to the local councils, and then they got ratecapped under the last CSR. The corporate manslaughter bill is still forever delayed; look what just happened. We're still in Iraq. But Polly is still, incredibly, hoping for the rule of the saints; what more, I wonder, are we expected to give up?

Further, can anyone cite an actual instance of "wrongful convictions" being overturned by "a DNA database"? I cannot imagine how this could happen; in every case using DNA evidence I've ever heard of, DNA recovered from forensics was matched against samples from a suspect, and if they turned out not to match, this is considered strong evidence for their innocence. Running it through a database of other suspects is quite another issue; the point of overturning a conviction is that this guy didn't do it, not we might have someone else who fits the available DNA.

After all, doing it that way would be mathematically certain to produce lots of false positive matches; but, I suppose, they would be happy to sacrifice the illusory individual freedom of not being locked up for the larger group freedom of perhaps maybe having emotional dolphins parenting binge estates sometime in the next parliament. (Well, she is on record as saying anyone who disagrees with this stuff is insane.)

This was, I think, quite the worst piece of writing the Grauniad has ever published. It came along with a grubbily unsourced psychological flaws smear directed at Gordon Brown from Tom Bower and a Simon Jenkins scotch and soda about farmers wanting to shoot badgers and this being the authentic voice of Britain. Frankly, their op-ed page has outlived its usefulness; and let's not even think of Martin Kettle.


tom s. said...

Great stuff. Thank you.

ejh said...

Well, there's always the inch.

I can recall Alan Watkins once writing of Norman St. John Stevas' pronouncements about the constitution (to which the office of Deputy Prime Minister was probably "unknown", or something) that somebody should tell Lord Fawnsley that the constitution was not actually his personal property.

Ditto Polly Toynbee and Labour politics, no?

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