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London without a guidebook

"London without a guidebook" Continued...

Issue: "Minority report," Aug. 11, 2007

Duncan Smith said some Conservatives found new enemies in immigrants and in Muslims generally, but that did not work: "You can have a strong negative message if it's not a message of nastiness and if you have respect as a rounded person. But if I know you're a selfish bastard and you attack a group, I don't want to support you." Duncan Smith wants to educate Members of Parliament and would-be members by having them spend five days volunteering at a nonprofit anti-poverty group. When they do, he said, they "utter three words: 'I never realized.' That's what I want to hear from them. They all say it." He also noted the political payoff: "Once you show you care, voters can't say you are a bastard."

Duncan Smith also emphasized the importance of "choosing the proper words when going before the public": For example, Conservatives should not "cut" programs, but should "enable people to fulfill their potential." He praised the American attempt to reclaim the word "compassion" from the left: From 2000 until last year he and David Cameron defined themselves as "compassionate conservatives." But, as Duncan Smith said, the term "now has baggage," so he is trying to yank back from the left another concept and term: "social justice."

That will be a major effort. On the left, social justice means not only equality before the law but equality of result, which-given the highly differentiated callings, talent, and discipline of humans-can only be brought about by governmental dictatorship. (Furthermore, over the past century those who first proclaimed that all are equal soon asserted that some are more equal than others.) Biblically, though, social justice has a different meaning, one displayed clearly in Exodus 22 and 23 and in practices such as gleaning: Do not oppress widows, orphans, and the aliens within your gates; neither exploit the poor nor be partial to them in lawsuits; provide employment opportunities to all in need.

Duncan Smith favors such social justice and is battling with the Conservative Party for such an understanding. In the soft light of his lamps, he paused for a moment in his optimistic accounting to lean forward and say, "It's very difficult. Colleagues here are impossible, really. They think life is just to kick at things."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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