Thursday, November 25, 2010

Howard Takes Flight

I'm really beginning to despair about the way we conduct political debate in this country, because very soon we're going to reach the point where no one will say anything of interest for fear of being too controversial. Lord Young learned that last Friday. Today it was Howard Flight's turn. His crime? Stating the bleedin' obvious. Well, maybe his real crime was to use the word 'breed'. How clumsy of him. But really, did it deserve the acres of media coverage? Did it deserve the outbursts of self-righteous indignation we heard from wee Dougie and others? Disagree with Flight by all means, but really, to castigate the man for speaking his mind is a bit rich. And it got worse when Downing Street weighed in too. Flight, seeing the prospect of his peerage disappearing down the swannee then issued a full apology. I understand why he did so, but there's part of me that respects him a little less for doing it.

Because his original contention stands. If you have £1500 a year taken away from you, having a child becomes a little less affordable. If you are given extra benefits having children becomes a little more affordable? As I say, a statement of the bleedin' obvious.

49 comments:

Joe Public said...

It seems BoyDave lacks the Balls to support Howard Flight?

Pathetic coward.

fairdealphil said...

Good try Iain, but Flight's comments on 'breeding' are offensive and the episode demonstrates how Cameron panders to paid up members of the Nasty Party by rewarding them with peerages...

hightory.com said...

http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/14841/1/14841.pdf

This academic studies suggests Flight is right.

Cameron should stand up and fight against the BBC/Guardian nonsense speak of "nasty party" and tell it how it is!

Iain Dale said...

Offensive? I couldn't give a toss, and nor should you.

Bongo said...

If his comments are so mundane why does it require the privileged political ruling classes leading defender in the blogosphere come to his aid.

Sadly it's open season on polticians and its their own fault. What we need though is the juicy innermost thoughts of some of Labour's leading lights

Oh yea I forgot Mr.Ed has got a blank page and thats it. Well thats that then....

Flight knows the score. He should have kept his mouth shut. He should have known better. The media cannot be trusted. He should also have been considerate as we can do without these interminable 'Outraged from Tunbridge Wells' posts and the drivel from tedious Labour clones...

Really the state of our politics and the establishment poltical parties is truly pre-school level.

It's enough to make one want to vote MRLP......

angry and despondent said...

It looks as though the feckless, freeloading classes have now become a sacred cow in this country.

Of course Howard Flight is correct in what he says. The bleeding heart Lefties are in denial if they truly believe the so-called "poor" aren't encouraged to pop out more kids than they could afford because of the welfare safety net.

Walk into any post office on certain days and see how much taxpayers' dosh is handed over the counter to young mothers with small tribes of kids. There is enough evidence that shows many among the underclass keep having kids knowing the taxpayer will foot the bill for their upkeep.

It seems that in the Conservative Party under David Cameron, freedom of thought and speech is undesirable. It seems he's scared of criticism from Labour's friends at the BBC.

wild said...

It is capitulation to the Left (who as New Labour reminded us are about hatred and craving for power and nothing else) whose commissars try to determine what it is acceptable to think.

Worse (again in accordance with the mindset of the Left) it is a culture of lies, in which thought police try to prevent people from saying what everybody (including themselves) knows to be the case.

The BBC (for that matter the whole bloated Leftist establishment) is a cancer that is destroying the liberties of the Civil Society upon which it feeds. The message is always the same. Give us more power. Give us your money. In return we will take away your liberty.

Each morning tax serfs ought to grab a megaphone and declare to the world

"I say what I believe to be true, I behave in ways I consider to be right, I decide how to spend the money I earn, so **** *** you Guardian reading ******* and stop telling me how to live my life!

P.S. I may think you are sanctimonious idiots, but I relish your freedom to set up your own little hate filled communities, just so long as I not only have the freedom to ignore every one of your stupid opinions, but (and this is a radical thought) but you do not force me - and future generations - to pay for how you want to live your life.

Lady Finchley said...

How does losing £1500 a year make you less likely to breed? A bit simplistic isn't it? That is the only part of the remark that bothered me.

Howard is a lovely guy but he's got form for having a big mouth. Nobody knows better than him how febrile the political mood is and how the media and the voters are constantly baying for blood. And yes, he's going to be a Peer, not an elected politican but he is a loose cannon and should have thought twice before putting the Party in such a position.

R Mutt said...

The use of language is revealing though. I doubt he talks about his wife or his mother or his friends as "breeding", but "starting a family" or suchlike, because breeding is a word that usually applies to animals.

Traditional conservative virtues include politeness and civility. Yet somehow it's become routine to refer to entire social classes as if they were animals. It seems to come as a great surprise to some when they discover human beings prefer to be referred to as human beings.

Alan said...

Shock horror! What you say, and how you say it turns out to be important in politics (and not just whether it is a verifiable fact)!

Hoocoodanode!

Young & Flight have failed to learn this basic lesson and thus do not deserve to be in politics. Iain also feigns ignorance of this rule (although I am suspect this is because he agrees with them).

pseudojamie said...

Ian,

I agree that he was right in an abstract way - financially speaking there's an incentive.

But I also think there's a suggestion there that poorer people will take up this incentive solely for the financial gain. And that is unpleasant, and while there might be some one-off examples of this, there's no data to suggest it happens at all regularly.

(The IFS piece suggests to me that poorer people felt comfortable enough to have children they wanted but didn't feel able to have. Not that they had kids for the benefits.)

So is it a hanging offence? No. Has it been taken out of proportion by some? Yes. But does it deserve a fair amount of criticism? Yes.

anne riddle said...

It's coming to something when people aren't allowed to tell the truth! Most people probably agree with Howard Flight so why isn't he allowed to say it as it is?

Libertarian said...

@fairdealphil

Grow up

Sean Haffey said...

The issue was the word "breed". It showed immense arrogance, seldom wise in a politician, and clearly implied that he thought of poorer people as animals.

Poorer people have votes and, who knows, a number of them may have voted Conservative. Talking about them with clear disdain was, frankly, stupid.

pete-s said...

The irony of our so called 'free society' is the then PM Brown can stand up in Parliament; tell bare faced lies. Everyone knows he is lying, but the convention is he is still, because he is still an MP, not labelled as the liar he is.

Flight tells an inconvenient truth, then gets pressured by Cameron because it clashes with want their change of image.

Unsworth said...

Offensive is exactly what's needed. High time for some blunt talking. All these pillocks who pussy-foot around desperately trying to avoid antagonising others are monsters. They would wish to avoid stark realities by controling the language and vocabulary of others. It's a standard extremist Left Wing tactic and this latest event is a clear manifestation of that.

The rot set in with the notion of 'equality' - definition unclear. It has expanded and pervaded everything, at all levels of society. People like the ghastly Harman are right at the forefront of this bollocks, weeping and moaning about something called 'fairness' - again, definition unclear.

Frankly I couldn't give a shit if I offend some with my remarks - the question is do they have any counter arguments? If they have, then let them put up. If they haven't then they should stop bitching about the 'manner' of my comments and face up to the real world.

graybo said...

The trouble is that Flight used the term "breed" in an entirely pejorative sense. The subtext is clear - that for the "lower classes" to "breed" is undesirable, whereas the opposite is true for "middle classes". I fail to see how this could be interpreted as anything other than offensive.

Thank goodness he is not part of the front bench. Such clumsiness would be disastrous for the government.

Windsor Tripehound said...

@fairdealphil said...
" ... Flight's comments on 'breeding' are offensive ... "

Offensive to whom? Seems fine to me.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Offensive?

You have every right to be offended, just don't expect anyone to give a fig.

Just go and be offended. No one gives a tuppenny toss about "offense" any more, and whether or not people are offended. You hand-wringers have over-played it once again, just as you have with the outcry of "Racist", or "Bigot" to which the reply is becoming "So what?"

The labels that you try to pin on people have become meaningless.



Spot on, Dale.

johnpaul said...

As a Labour man I think, Flight AND To Some extent Lord Young were right, CAm should have kept them on, The Best the Tories can hope for Is AV to get through and another Coalition in 5 years

Kcila said...

@fairdealphil - you are so wrong.

Flight got it spot on. The poor breed to scrounge off the state. Why do you find the truth "offensive"?

Personally I'd cut their balls off but hey I'm a little too liberal for bleeding heart socialists who simply cannot stomach the harsh facts of life in 21st Century UK.

We are living in an era that is becoming so sanitised that as Iain says noone will say a thing and the truth will go unchallenged.

Cath said...

I too am completely baffled by the fuss his comments have caused. Surely it's self evident that having more that one child is impossible for many middle-income (or even relatively comfortable)families where the mum is the main, or at least the most stable earner. Even at a level which is apparently sufficiently well-off to not need child benefit 2 lots of childcare costs (ie £2K a month) would all but wipe out my salary and we need that to eat and pay the mortgage when my husband doesn't earn. So we have a situation where there needs to be a big differential in salary between the parents to make having 2 kids feasible. The mistake Flight made was to tie this fact to benefits rather then the cost of childcare when it is that which prevents the middle classes "breeding" more though obviously losing £85pm won't help.

Cynic said...

"Flight's comments on 'breeding' are offensive"

I agree that the wording is plan stupid and offensive but the sentiment isn't. I have an ex employee who made no bones about it. He saw his family as a major source of benefits and way to live without having to work.

How do we know this? He openly told to colleagues 3 months before that his intention was to go sick with psychological problems. He had calculated that with three children he could access DLA and enough benefits to give him a bigger income than staying in work. Indeed another baby (on the way) will enhance that. Other staff were so disgusted that they told us but there was nothing we could do.

Let me be clear too. I actually liked this guy and he was was actually a very good worker. If he came back I might even reemploy him.

When in work he was competent and reliable. I know that he is also a very good family man who lives for his family and I have no doubt is doing what he sees as financially best for his family.

I know that all of that is a mad paradox but its a symptom of the Alice In Wonderland benefits system created by the Labour Government bvenefits system that made it the logical decision for him to do this to maximise his income!

By the way, did you hear Red Ed squirm on the Today Programme. He's fully behind the street protests by students as the wicked Tory Government put up fees.

Indeed, he was going to go out to speak to them. In a rare display of BBC sanity he was asked, ok, so why didn't he? Apparently he 'had other things to do' at the time.

Cynic said...

"Flight's comments on 'breeding' are offensive"

I agree that the wording is plan stupid and offensive but the sentiment isn't. I have an ex employee who made no bones about it. He saw his family as a major source of benefits and way to live without having to work.

How do we know this? He openly told to colleagues 3 months before that his intention was to go sick with psychological problems. He had calculated that with three children he could access DLA and enough benefits to give him a bigger income than staying in work. Indeed another baby (on the way) will enhance that. Other staff were so disgusted that they told us but there was nothing we could do.

Let me be clear too. I actually liked this guy and he was was actually a very good worker. If he came back I might even reemploy him.

When in work he was competent and reliable. I know that he is also a very good family man who lives for his family and I have no doubt is doing what he sees as financially best for his family.

I know that all of that is a mad paradox but its a symptom of the Alice In Wonderland benefits system created by the Labour Government bvenefits system that made it the logical decision for him to do this to maximise his income!

By the way, did you hear Red Ed squirm on the Today Programme. He's fully behind the street protests by students as the wicked Tory Government put up fees.

Indeed, he was going to go out to speak to them. In a rare display of BBC sanity he was asked, ok, so why didn't he? Apparently he 'had other things to do' at the time.

Right Hon. said...

I don't know who is more gutless. Cameron for not having the courage to let members of his party express a personal opinion, or Flight for speaking his mind and then cravenly issuing a grovelling apology when he thought he peerage was jeopardised.

Weygand said...

How is it that you made the candidate A list but do not get the problem with Young or Flight?
The factual basis of their comments in both cases is irrelevant to the political issue involved.
The former revealed a lack of sensitivity towards those who are going to suffer from the cuts and the latter used language which showed he held a certain class in contempt per se.
Both gave the hostile media and the coalition's political opponents a stick with which to beat them and will have cost the coalition support.
Dave's central message - and one that he has to get over to remain in power is "We are all in this together" - these 2 morons have made it all the more difficult for him to succeed.
Young and Flight and their like are far more threatening to the Conservative party than Balls and Harman.

Dave's Mate said...

The problem is one of perception.

It is what we look like, Labour have struck a chord with the public on the 'cheering the cuts budget'. We are looking 'nastier' than we need to be, and the sense of priorities is poorly understood. £7bn to Ireland, £8bn on railway investment but cutting universities, policemen, roads etc.

Flight and Young were correct in what they said, but to do so in a position of close relationship to a government which is not getting the case across well enough was just crass. They do not deserve their exalted positions because they are stupid enough not to realise that.

Iain Dale said...

"The factual basis of their comments in both cases is irrelevant to the political issue involved"

Oh Weygand, you do make me laugh.

neil craig said...

The reaction to this on Question Time was interesting. After Farage basically said Flight was right & that it was a very bad thing that political correctness was censoring real discussion everybody rallied round to his side (even the Labour apparatchik).

The lesson being that if attacked you look for the enemy weak point & counterattack. So long as all you do when attacked is apologise & throw a supporter to the wolves you will always be trailed by wolves.

A lesson the Conservatives should learn.

skynine said...

All politicians have lost the plot. They live in their ivory towers with their special perks approved by the HMRC and spout rubbish.

Yesterday Nick Robinson joined the Milliband where he heard workers in Tesco saying that their friends on welfare were better off than they were, and they were right.

I have two nieces (twins), neither are married, one works and pays taxes, the other had a child and received all the benefits. We added them up and they came to £2000 a month net. Using taxcalc I worked that out to £35000 gross. To cap it all the child, now 18 has gone and got pregnant and will sign on to all the benefits of welfare.

We are all mugs, don't work, get a sore back and sign on.

BTW Did anyone else notice the venom in the BBC reporter's voice when he commented on Howard Flight. Yes he shouldn't have said "breed" but his comments reflect the reality of living in our current welfare dependent country.

punkscience said...

Odd to see "offensive" being used to condemn this Tory scumbag's despicable comments. What happened to 'immoral' and plain 'wrong'.

BTW- hightory links to a "academic study" which hasn't passed any peer review and in which the authors cannot differentiate between fertility and fecundity. An important difference to make and one that betrays their ignorance of the subject upon which they propound.

Any reasonably informed observer couldn't fail to admit that the benfits available to unemployed parents offer an alternative to employed income. That this is the case is not at all an indictment of the welfare state but of the failed employment policies of successive governments, the pathetic wages on offer and the lack of rewarding employment available to many citizens of the UK. This is a product of years of misgovernment from Labour and the Tories (now with help from the Lib Dems). A plague on ALL your houses.

Pogo said...

@Unsworth, November 26, 2010 8:43 AM

They would wish to avoid stark realities by controling the language and vocabulary of others. It's a standard extremist Left Wing tactic and this latest event is a clear manifestation of that.

... People like the ghastly Harman are right at the forefront of this bollocks, weeping and moaning about something called 'fairness' - again, definition unclear.


"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we will make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten..."

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Weygand said...

I must assume you are deliberately being obtuse.

The facts were irrelevant because the fuss is not about the statement itself but what the statement reveals about the general perspective of the speaker, ie the Tories are the smug, 'I'm all right mate' nasty party.

Think back to those days at East Anglia when you would probably have written an essay about it.

And if I'm the one who is wrong, how come Dave has acted as he has? Is he ridiculous too?

PS You are getting in the habit of being dismissive rather than addressing the arguments of your contributors - not a good idea.

P. Stable said...

Weygand: "The factual basis of their comments in both cases is irrelevant to the political issue involved"

Iain: "Oh Weygand, you do make me laugh."

This may explain why you've not managed to become an MP, Iain. If Flight had said "changes to child benefit will put some middle-class people off starting a family, while making it easier and more desireable for poorer people to do so" he'd have been fine. Just as if Lord Young had said "Despite all the financial hardship facing many people today, people who have both job security and a favourable mortgage rate will have seen a rise in their income over the past year", he'd have been fine too.

The language both used - "breeding", "never had it so good" - was totally inappropriate.

There's a reason Theresa May talks about "restricting the number of tier one visas for non-EU citizens" rather than "stopping the fucking P*kis coming over here and stealing our jobs".

Michael Fowke said...

There won't be any Conservatives left soon.

Iain Dale said...

P. Stable, which was exactly the point I was making in my post if you'd bothered to read it.

P. Stable said...

I did read your post, and that's certainly not the point I took away from it.

You seemed to be saying that Flight did nothing wrong
because what he said was true, and that No 10 shouldn't have slapped him down as they did.

Based on the comments here I think quite a few other people understood it the same way I did.

Flight didn't get in trouble because what he said was true or false, but because of how he communicated it.

Gnostic said...

Mr Dale, it's not often I agree with you but on this you have my full support. Plain speaking needs to return to politics. Well said, sir.

Moriarty said...

I think that language should be banned. As soon as people are allowed to have language they run the risk of using it in ways that are "inappropriate" and possibly "offensive". And the worst thing that can happen to anybody is that they hear something -usually through language- that might "offend" them. So ban language now and drag anyone who uses it kicking and screaming (in a non-language way) into the twenty-first century.

Little Black Sambo said...

Good try Iain, but Flight's comments on 'breeding' are offensive
My, what reasoning! No they aren't. Yes they are.

Little Black Sambo said...

No one gives a tuppenny toss about "offense" any more, and whether or not people are offended.
Unfortunately, as many of these comments demonstrate, that is not true.

privatefrazer said...

When I hear and read the negative reaction to Howard's statement, I know this country is doomed.
Will the truth ever prevail in this country? No!
Will Parliament represent the responsible people of this country? No!

Master Cameron, you are a big boy now so please grow some or buzz off and let us have our Conservative party back.

Moriarty said...

@p.stabe

Anybody who uses the term "inappropriate" when it comes to language has decided to give up thinking for themselves. It's a term that has become a substitute for thought. You don't have a right not to be offended. Grow up.

Weygand said...

Sometimes this blog makes me weep with frustration.

Dave struggles at the wheel of a coalition government - storm tossed by opportunistic Socialists, prejudiced media and fragmenting Tories and Lib Dems.

His hope is to build a consensus to weather the storm - and the greatest financial crisis in living memory.

Who would wish him ill?

Well some has-been Tories, some never-have been Lib Dems and the couldn't even make it to be candidates. These are the ones who lack the intelligence, the reserve or the public spirit to see the wood for the trees.

As Old Winston used to say, "Careless Talk Costs Ships" - in this case Premierships.

This nothing to do with facts or people being offended - it is to do with seeking consensus and the cross boundary support required to confront these challenges; and still have a Conservative government at the end of it.

How can a political publisher, commentator and former Conservative potential candidate not get this? And if he cannot, what is the value of what he has to offer?

Perhaps it is time he became a full-time radio celeb or embraced whatever glittery stardom beckons - maybe Strictly with Widders?

Paddy said...

Flight used the breed word about the middle classes. I quote: "We're going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it's jolly expensive. But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that's not very sensible."

Of course, the breeding is implied as going on across the classes, but he does not directly say it of the non-working class as a specifically derogatory word for what they get up to. I imagine he probably would use it about toffs too. It's just a word posh people use. Like "jolly".

As I blogged yesterday, the scandalous thing is that after doing a "Tories are nasty" lead item on the 10 O Clock News last night, the very next item was on MiliE visiting some Labour voters who, sat round a canteen table, all complained about people on benefits not having responsibilities. One even said "they just get paid to have children", yet the Beeb didn't drawn any connection with the preceding item...

wild said...

"This nothing to do with facts"

Untrue

"or people being offended"

Untrue

It is about truth and political correctness. Of course it is ALSO about party political spin. But sometimes politics is not only about party political spin, it is also about a vision of the sort of society in which we want to live.

In this case the vision which Iain is defending is a society in which politicians (amongst others) are given the freedom to say what they believe to be the truth, on the grounds that they (and us) are adults and citizens not children and serfs.

Lady Finchley said...

What I would like to know is why when my family subsisted on benefits after losing our business did we fall so short of this magical £35,000 PA figure. As a family of three we had £450 a month to eat, pay utility bills, and generally live. The interest was paid on our mortgage to the tune of £600 a month and that was the princely sum of £12,600 pa for a family of three, one of whom was a diabetic. It was a truly miserable time - not only for the amount of money it was but because of the anguish and yes, shame of being in such a position. We eventually got back on our feet but it was something I'd rather die than repeat even if it was this mythical £35,000 pa figure. So tell me, where did I go wrong?

P.S. It was then I decided we could never afford to have more than one child, even after we got back on our feet.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

@Little Black Sambo

47 comments - 2 who found the remarks of both men "offensive".

Please accept my humble apology for saying that "no one gives a tuppenny toss about "offense" any more, and whether or not people are offended".

As I have apologised, please let me know how, where and when I can pay your compensation.

No offence, I hope.

geraldallen said...

Just come back on to your blog Iain, after being away for a few days,and I have to agree that there should be every opportunity for people involved in politicsto air their views.Flight has been given a peerage for fund raising for the Conservative Party, and therefore thouht he could say what he liked.That he is that thick and could'nt see the reaction that his reactionary and patronising commments would provoke,at a time of severe cutbacks in government spending and benefits tells you all you need to know about millionaires like him and Lord Young.I wonder if Flight and Young collect their £175.00p+expenses daily attendance allowance(courtesy of the taxpayer) at the House of Lords.Maybe thats why he gave such a cringeing,grovelling apology to "Call Me Dave".Poor old Cameron ,thats twice in a week that he's had Diarrhoea when two reactionary old tossers open their mouths.Great to see him getting a taste of his own medicine.lol.