Tory minister’s idea of ​​’bonking for Britain’ is a disgusting vision lurking behind raunchy Carry On pictures | Zoe Williams

The called it Sun “Bonk for Britain” and illustrated the story with a couple about to have sex: this is a minister’s notion, floated at the Conservative Party conference last week, that women should get tax breaks to encourage a baby boom. The newspaper declines to name the minister, but assures us that he or she is “top”, providing a quote: “Look at the labor shortage we are suffering from. We have to have more children. The exchange rate keeps falling. Look at Hungary – they lower taxes for mothers who have more children.” We apparently need to “wean ourselves off our dependence on immigration”.

I have marveled at the anonymity of this minister: so many utterly appalling views were aired at the Tory party conference by people who seemed proud to own them; so much dehumanizing language about foreigners, about people in poverty, not to mention blue-on-blue backpacks out in the open. Why would it be the idea to get upset? Well, because it’s more disgusting than it looks.

It’s true that in Hungary, if you’re a woman with four or more children, you’ll never have to pay income tax again, although it’s probably not a huge hit to the treasury since you don’t have time to work anyway. It is also true that the Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, clamps down on media freedom, rewrites electoral rules to ensure that only his party can win, wages constant war on minorities, and uses Islamophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric with impunity – all together. denies – almost as a tool to illustrate how toothless EU censorship is.

You get a lot of backlash from the right when you call Orbán a fascist, because British conservatives, when they run off the road or have too much wine at the conference, like to borrow his policies and his rhetorical flourishes. But let’s not fool ourselves into rooting for Britain: this is just “the great replacement theory” with a tax code.

This is a very common right-wing drumbeat, claiming that swarms or floods of migrants will eventually—perhaps soon—overwhelm their host nations so that white people are no longer in the majority. It’s the organizing principle of a lot of other far-right discourse: if your only chance for racial survival is to breed faster, it becomes necessary to rigidly socially control women in their partnering and reproductive choices. On the baby supply side, migrants must be deterred or, failing that, dehumanized in the plural and oppressed in the singular. Anyone who opposes you, apparently in Orbán’s worldview, is a liberal whose mind has probably been poisoned by George Soros.

The Sun’s article appeared on the same day as Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman discussed a plan to tackle “bad migration” by limiting the number of children foreign students can bring to the UK. How does a child become a “bad migrant”? And why are they not welcome when we have such a labor shortage? Meanwhile, our unnamed minister does not specify whether you will get an extra tax break if your baby has blue eyes.

When British Tories emulate these positions, it is not with a mind to actually increase the birth rate. It’s actually pretty fun to consider how big a tax break would need to be to cover even the first three years of an extra child’s support; shaving National Insurance off a person’s income just wouldn’t cover it. Realistically, you’d have to overhaul the whole system, tax wealth rather than income, implement the biggest redistribution event since the post-war era, and sort nursery fees while you’re at it. But it’s not funny, because that’s not what they mean. The real message, as with Braverman’s plan to make cannabis a Class A drug, is: “Suck it up, forces of civilization. We’re getting so ugly in our language and whatever actions we have the power to take, as it is possible to be.”

We don’t need to wash this down with Carry On language and silly, nostalgic innuendos. We are allowed to call it what it is: dog whistle white supremacy in a babygrow.

Zoe Williams is a columnist for The Guardian

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