Progressive Conservatism

Antonia Kaplan has found an interesting article by Ross Clark in The Spectator of 16 January, 2010. This suggests that David Cameron prefers to help the rich and his  »romantic » poor but do little for those of the middle class who have already bettered themselves. The new thinking in the draft Conservative manifesto on health is described by Andrew Lansley, the shadow health minister, as  »progressive conservatism » and proposes weighting of public health funding  »so that extra resources go to the poorest areas with the worst health outcomes through a health premium ». This follows an earlier announcement to fund new independent state schools partly by means of a  »pupil premium » i.e. by extra funding for schools taking on more poor children.
Ross Clark sees a future Cameron government for the rich and for the poor but with not much for those in between, if the rich are also offered tax cuts e.g. on inheritance tax and stamp duty on share transactions. David Cameron he considers as having little affinity for the self-made, middle class who were the backbone of the Party during the Thatcher years and harbouring a romantic notion of the poor, not uncommon to those from a comfortable background but alien to self-made individuals from council estates.
He writes that low educational attainment cannot be put right by higher spending on poor pupils; it is a result of low aspiration and a lack of value in education. It is better to reward self-help and not intensify the benefits trap. Meanwhile the wealthy will continue to pay for highly selective private schools but bright pupils in the middle will be left deprived of the leg-up once provided by grammar schools.
Is the Conservative party really turning its back on the middle class, its core vote for the past 30 years, as suggested by Ross Clark? It »s perhaps no surprise that Gordon Brown is now chasing the middle class vote.

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