Polly Toynbee

The Ugliest Political Emotion – Pity

No, not envy…which is the chosen weapon of the left usually…now they are using a more despicable weapon…pity.

Brendan O’Neill at The Telegraph explains.

One of my abiding memories from childhood is of the time my dad told the local priest to sling his hook. A newbie in our parish in a rough-ish part of north-west London, the priest was knocking on the doors of the most churchgoing families and introducing himself. Standing imperiously in our living room, he asked my dad where he was from in Ireland. “Connemara”, my dad replied. Whereupon the priest put on his best sad face and said: “Aah – from one rough part of the world to another, oh dear.” My dad – a lifelong despiser of pity – told him to get out. “We don’t need people like that feeling sorry for us”, he told me and my brothers, “especially when there’s nothing to be sorry for!” The priest was all enthusiastic smiles and handshakes when we arrived at Mass the following Sunday.

Maybe this is one of the reasons I have always hated pity. In my view, there’s no uglier emotion in the pantheon of political feelings than pity, especially for “the poor”, whom it treats as an agency-lacking blob that must be cooed over and cared for by better-informed sections of society. The high-handed manner in which that priest expressed his feelings of sorrow for us – even though we had a nice house, an actual minibus (you need one when you have a family of eight), a TV and so on – taught me at a very early age that pity is a most selfish emotion. It’s not about helping the pitied but rather about making the pitier himself feel puffed up, through allowing him to make a big, public display of his ability to feel bad for the less well-off. As the old saying goes, “Friends help; others pity”.   Read more »

Giving the left what they want

ᔥ The Telegraph

David Shearer is a big fan of Finland, other Labour politicians love cherry picking scandanavian countries to prove obscure political points about how crap new Zealand is and how we would be all so much better off if we would just follow those countries examples.

New Zealand is not unique in having socialists gaze lovingly at other countries. In the UK Polly Toynbee has similar aspirations:

We’re all aware of Polly Toynbee, doyenne of the Guardian’s comment pages and conscience of the nation. It’s true that she comes in for a bit of stick at times, but I think it’s time we started to take her more seriously. Indeed, time that we create the sort of society she desires. Which is, as she tells us this morning, the following:

I want Britain to aim for the social and economic balance that thrives in Nordic nations.

Excellent! Let’s change policy to achieve that laudable aim. We should copy the Finnish education system, for example – it is, after all, the number one such system in the world. There they divide into academic and vocational at 16 and there’s none of this nonsense that all must go to university – that’s reserved for the small fraction that are indeed academic. Or the Swedish system of education vouchers. Parents decide on the school they want children to go to and the local council stumps up the fees – whether it’s a public or private school.

From Denmark we’ll take a couple of policies. Privatise the ambulance and fire services certainly. They’ve been working well there for nigh on 90 years. We’d want their taxation system as well: the national income tax is 3.76% and the top national rate is 15%. True, total income taxes are high but the rest is levied by the commune, a political unit as small as 10,000 people. At that scale, taxation is subject to the Bjorn’s Beer Effect. If you know that it’s Bjorn who levies your taxes, Bjorn who spends your taxes and also know where Bjorn has his Friday night beer, then he’s going to spend your money wisely. Otherwise he can’t go out for a beer on Friday, can he?

From all of them we’ll take the abolition of the national minimum wage, for none of the EU Nordics has one.

Sweden has also abolished inheritance tax, gift tax and the wealth tax. Those sound like three excellent ideas to copy.