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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Wed Feb 19, 2020, 06:59 AM

2. This sort of attitude has been popular in right-wing circles for a long time

From Keith Joseph's Edgbaston speech, 1974:

'The balance of our population, our human stock is threatened. A recent article in Poverty, published by the Child Poverty Action Group, showed that a high and rising proportion of children are being born to mothers least fitted to bring children into the world and bring them up. They are born to mother who were first pregnant in adolescence in social classes 4 and 5. Many of these girls are unmarried, many are deserted or divorced or soon will be. Some are of low intelligence, most of low educational attainment. They are unlikely to be able to give children the stable emotional background, the consistent combination of love and firmness which are more important than riches. They are producing problem children, the future unmarried mothers, delinquents, denizens of our borstals, sub-normal educational establishments, prisons, hostels for drifters. Yet these mothers, the under-twenties in many cases, single parents, from classes 4 and 5, are now producing a third of all births. A high proportion of these births are a tragedy for the mother, the child and for us.

Yet what shall we do? If we do nothing, the nation moves towards degeneration, however much resources we pour into preventative work and the over-burdened educational system. It is all the more serious when we think of the loss of people with talent and initiative through emigration as our semi-socialism deprives them of adequate opportunities, rewards and satisfactions.

Yet proposals to extend birth-control facilities to these classes of people, particularly the young unmarried girls, the potential young unmarried mothers, evokes entirely understandable moral opposition. Is it not condoning immorality? I suppose it is. But which is the lesser evil, until we are able to remoralise whole groups and classes of people, undoing the harm done when already weak restraints on strong instincts are further weakened by permissiveness in television, in films, on bookstalls ?


The worship of instinct, of spontaneity, the rejection of self-discipline, is not progress - it is degeneration.

It was Freud who argued that repression of instincts is the price we pay for civilisation. He considered the price well-paid. So can we, now. But we must see the dilemmas, we must argue it out among ourselves, to find a way through these moral dilemmas, while we fight for our ideals in wider fora through words and deeds. But you may ask what can fallible politicians in short-lived governments do in the face of all these tidal forces? Most of what needs to be done, I have stressed, is for individuals as themselves and as members of all manner of bodies. But some tasks are for government, and to these I will return on a future occasion.

This could be a watershed in our national existence. Are we to move towards moral decline reflected and intensified by economic decline, by the corrosive effects of inflation? Or can we remoralise our national life, of which the economy is an integral part? It is up to us, to people like you and me.'


This speech probably destroyed Joseph's chances of becoming PM. But it didn't prevent him from becoming one of our worst Education Secretaries in history. Or helping to push Maggie even more to the right than she was to start with.

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Eugene Feb 2020 OP
T_i_B Feb 2020 #1
LineNew Reply This sort of attitude has been popular in right-wing circles for a long time
LeftishBrit Feb 2020 #2
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