Sucking the joy

It is hardly necessary these days to highlight the misleading headline and opening statements in such as the Herald’s piece on reaction to the SNP’s baby box policy. Pretty much everybody in Scotland is now well aware of the corporate media’s habit of putting some anti-SNP spin on every story. We are all accustomed to their predilection for talking Scotland down at every contrived opportunity. Why should a piece about the SNP’s proposal to give a box of essential items to every newborn? There is no point in hoping that the British press might simply accept a good news story and present it in a straightforward and honest manner. It just isn’t going to happen.

Having seen the headline screaming “expensive stunt”, you’ll scour the article in vain looking for some quote to this effect.

Having been told that there have been queries about “whether the government should be giving every child the gift – estimated to cost around £6m a year – when some families have desperate needs”, you might be perplexed to discover so little evidence of this in an article which is almost entirely positive about the policy.

This is not to say that there aren’t a few dour, soulless, bean-counting dullards out there dreichly pontificating on what a waste of taxpayers’ money this is at a time of financial stringency and when a sorely persecuted minority of wealthy individuals are desperately needing to be incentivised to ever greater heights of avarice and acquisitiveness.

But it is evident from the comments quoted in the article those of us who are not miserable, grasping, joy-sucking wretches totally get it. We understand that the worth of the baby box policy lies at least as much in its symbolic significance as in its value as a welfare measure.

I had intended to offer my own thoughts on the matter. But I find that I cannot hope to put it better than Professor Graham Watt of Glasgow University,

If [the baby box] conveys the message that everyone is part of the same system, sharing doubts and uncertainties, hoping to avoid calamities in infancy and childhood, but confident they, and more likely – others, will get help if they need it, that’s a restorative message, underpinning the NHS as a shared resource, which we hope not to need and are prepared to pay for, so that others less fortunate, more likely than ourselves, can get the help they need.

I have nothing to add.

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