History, if it has any sense, will come to judge Gordon Brown with deep moral disapproval. Somehow the man has managed to blind most of us to his obvious faults, but I will take only one – his obstinacy in clinging, with all the force of his moral authority, such as it is, to morally dubious policies, against all advice and in defiance of the evidence.
I mean his emotional support for a scheme to turn us all into organ donors, willy nilly, unless we individually opt out. In January Brown went public in an impassioned newspaper article, saying a system of presumed consent could save thousands of lives and “close the aching gap” between the benefits of organ transplants and “the limits imposed by our current system of consent”.
This is wrong in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, and embarrassingly for the prime minister, the organ donation taskforce he set up will firmly oppose presumed consent this week. The experts think such a system would do little or nothing to help the people who now face avoidable deaths because of the shortage of organ transplants.
[...] The thinking behind this is pure socialism. You and all your assets belong to the state to tax, teach, reeducate, redistribute and, generally speaking, harvest as it sees fit. It is an attitude that was tested to destruction in the bitter miseries of the 20th century but, like Dracula, it is mysteriously undead.
The more civilised view, surely, is that although we share our assets with others, and they with us, it is because we feel a common duty to give, not because anyone has a right to take. We pay our taxes, most of us, and give to charity, by political choice and out of a sense of solidarity, through democratic agreement. However, our bodies and our incomes and our talents and our thoughts are our own, most particularly our bodies. This is an essential assumption of freedom and personal autonomy.