Sunday, 3 February 2008

When soundbites bite back

Inspired, apparently, by the Dutch (a tendency which could lead to some really interesting policy announcements) the Tories want to give every mother a free maternity nurse. When I say give, I mean of course, pay for out of general taxation. As some sharp thinker realised, this might seem to contradict a key piece of Conservative rhetoric:
"The leadership accepts that the policy marks a big step, but insists that it is not adopting the 'nanny state'."
Heaven forfend.

Incidentally, the duties of these putative Poppinses (for all mothers, whether they need it or not) include:
  • Showing new mothers how to breastfeed and bathe their baby;
  • Looking after older children and making sure healthy meals are provided;
  • Taking care of laundry and light household cleaning;
  • Monitoring visitors to the mother's home to ensure that rest times are not interrupted;
  • Keeping a diary with details of the mother and baby's progress for use by doctors and midwives.
The astonished italics are mine - is the government really going to pay for people to have a personal servant/bodyguard? A tax-paid maid? And what if you are already well-off enough to hire a nanny of your own? Might she become tax-deductable? How splendid.

Still, it's good to know the electoral strategy of bribing the middle-classes is still well-favoured. If you're reading Dave, I'll take the £20/week marriage bribe and the free nanny - find some way of paying for my holiday in Tuscany and you've got yourself a vote.

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