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Britain’s Unhappy Children? 15 February 2007

Posted by David in Comment.
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The Times has a rather sloppy, largely nonsensical and utterly pointless article by someone called Oliver James. Mr James makes a few real points – for instance that the SureStart State run nurseries are awful – but then loses it all. Sadly Mr James is the author of a book called “Affluenza: How to be Successful and Stay Sane”, which sounds truly boring. It also presuposes he is sane himself, which is rather contestable.

Like so many deranged, loony left crazies, he blames everything on Margaret Thatcher. He writes of the recent Unicef report which placed Britain as worst of all developed nations: “This problem is, to a significant extent, an unfortunate byproduct of Thatcherism…it increased the proportion of children raised in low-income families — from 19 per cent in 1979 to 31 per cent by 1981.”

This cheap allegations matches that of the Unicef report’s co-author, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw: “Between 1979 and 1999, children were relatively neglected in Britain, child poverty rates rose rapidly, those living in workless households soared and the numbers not in education or training also rose.”

So child poverty only really started in 1979? What planet are these people on? Oh that’s right, Planet Leftist. On Planet Leftist poverty isn’t measured by what you haven’t got (absolute poverty), but by what others have (relative poverty). So if everyone’s salaries go up but in different amounts, they say there’s more “poverty” because the lower salaried person is “relatively poor” compared to the higher paid one. Under their measure, there’s lots of poverty in the UK but none in North Korea (they have the Leftist dream of full equality).

I am not convinced by the Unicef report, which puts most of its focus on fully subjective measures from surveys and the loony “relative poverty” measure. We have many problems in the UK – drugs, alcohol, crime – but this report is just mad. No-one can make families eat together, stay together and live happily ever after, least of all the State.

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