Friday 17 March 2023

Ill fares the land to hast'ning ills a prey

The news from England.

·        The UK will avoid a recession this year, according to the OBR. It expects the economy to shrink by 0.2 per cent, not the 1.4 per cent it expected last November.

·        A major part of the upgrade is due to higher net migration, expected to settle at 245,000 a year, up from 205,000 the OBR predicted in November.

·        Migration will add 160,000 workers to the economy and 0.5 per cent to GDP growth by 2027.

·        A package of welfare reforms, including a childcare subsidy (for the under-twos) will add an estimated 110,000 people to the workforce (Box 2.2).

From a mail the Spectator sent me. 

In other words a Conservative government is trying to get young mothers back to work as quickly as possible rather than giving them incentives to stay at home and possibly have more children. 

The budget the day before yesterday announced 'extended free childcare to babies as young as nine months'.

The solution to the falling birth rate and business slowdown is childminders for babies and a quarter of a million immigrants a year.

This, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance) thinks, will increase GDP, not seeing that it will impoverish the nation in so many ways.

His predecessor George Osborne had the same policy. 

Neither man, of course, is a conservative.

I didn't like Mrs Thatcher because she never did anything conservative, such as giving tax breaks for mothers who stayed at home to rear children, while she seemed to my young eye not to care about the unemployed or the poor.

She seemed materialistic but was in fact simply a Methodist, a genuine conservative of a dispiriting type. As she said, 'economics is only the method. I want to change souls'.

British politics from 1951 to 1979 were very materialistic. Which party would make voters richer? After 1979 they became philosophical.

So Mrs Thatcher was less materialistic than her predecessors or successors. If she didn't do anything conservative, at least she didn't do many things that were egalitarian or liberal.

Mrs Braverman the Home Secretary, who went to my college, considers herself a Thatcherite not a Heathite. 

She was recently roundly criticised for saying illegal immigrants were invading England.  

Those who criticised her did not know the dictionary definition of invasion, or rather they did but chose to pretend ignorance. 

It's a strange game these people play, a power game but also one they play for obscure psychological paybacks. 

I wonder if they know the history of the Norman invasion.

Historians don't know how many Normans settled in England after the Norman Conquest but the number is thought to be somewhere around 8,000.

The Huguenots were around 40,000 to 50,000 in total. 

The Jews who came in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, until the Aliens Act 1905 closed the door on them, numbered perhaps 250,000 over forty years. 

These were the biggest 'invasions' before 1950.

I am put in mind, as usual, of Belloc.
'Ill fares the land to hast'ning ills a prey (1)
Where wealth accumulates and men decay.'
But how much more unfortunate are those
Where wealth declines and population grows!

(1)This line is execrable; and I note it.
I quote it as the faulty poet wrote it.

The childcare subsidy put Catholic twitterer Eccles in mind of a poem about creches by Chesterton that I didn't know. 

I remember my mother, the day that we met, 
A thing I shall never entirely forget; 
And I toy with the fancy that, young as I am, 
I should know her again if we met in a tram. 
 But mother is happy in turning a crank 
 That increases the balance in somebody's bank; 
 And I feel satisfaction that mother is free 
 From the sinister task of attending to me. 
Poor, much missed Pope Benedict XVI provoked  contralto outrage from silly people who make it their pleasure and think it their duty to be outraged, when he timidly said something nice about mothers who do not go to work. 

Pope Pius XII was much more outspoken in their praise, but that was long ago, when the world (west of the Iron Curtain) was more civilised.


  1. A Conservative in the sense of, for example, the Governor of South Dakota - someone opposed to abortion, opposed to Covid lockdowns, opposed to deficit spending, really opposed to mass migration, whilst supportive of lower taxes (not cutting some tax rates whilst increasing the overall tax burden to its highest level since Mr Atlee was Prime Minister) and who supports the traditional family and believes that their Christian faith should guide their policies and life, would be outside British politics - such a person could only become a minister if (like Jacob Rees-Mogg) they agreed, whilst a minister, to go along with very different policies based on very different principles.

    As for Popes - it is Pius X in his Encyclical of 1907 who warned of what has come to pass in the Church and the world. A replacement of real theology (and real philosophy - for he cited both) with the idea that both religion and politics were just about Collective help-the-poor (that such policy really would help the poor is a starting assumption - an unquestioned starting assumption), with Jesus Christ Himself - not being considered God, but rather a "poor man". Monsignor Fulton Sheen went much further in his 1947 "Ape of the Church" sermon.

  2. If one is looking for a Conservative Prime Minister in the United Kingdom who did such things as abolish Income Tax (meant only to be a tax in the most severe of wars) and really restoring (as opposed to pretending to restore) gold, rather than fiat, money. One would have to look back two centuries - to Lord Liverpool. The Prime Minister so despised by Disraeli - who had a very different view of both government and society.