There's been a lot of comment about the UK government's (re-)announcement of a plan to give a cash grant to all pregnant women, with the stated aim of:
encourag[ing] them to eat better and improv[ing] the health prospects of their unborn child.Chris Dillow points out that this won't be the effect:
... if couples get an extra £1 of child benefit, 49p is spent on drink, and 40p on adults' clothing. If single parents get an extra £1 of child benefit, 71p goes on women's clothing.But this is more than just symbolism. It's vote buying, and results do matter.
If child benefit doesn't get spent on children, it's unlikely that support for foetuses will be spent on foetuses.
What Alan Johnson is doing here is the politics of symbolism. He wants to signal that he cares about the ickle-wickle kiddie-widdies. Results don't matter