Martin Bright

Broken Britain: The Reality

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I was hugely impressed by a long article by my former colleague Rob Yates, in this weekend's Observer magazine. Rob went back to his roots in Walton, Liverpool, one of the most deprived parts of the country on any indicator, to examine the reality of the "broken Britain" rhetoric of the Conservative Party.

It was about as far from a liberal whinge as you can imagine, but Rob recognised that not everything New Labour has done to alleviate the lot of the worst off has been disastrous. In particular he points to the popularity of the Sure Start programme for mothers and young children and improvements to school buildings and municipal space in general.

I have a terrible worry that in its eagerness to sweep away the perceived waste of the Brown era, the Tories will throw the baby out with the bath water. The promise of the Cameroon philosophy was that it would recognise the good things done by the Labour government. A new Conservative government will not be sympathetic by instinct or ideology to Sure Start or New Deal for Schools. But it should look long and hard at the consequences of abandoning such schemes. 

Rob Yates remembers the tattiness of everything when he was growing up in the seventies and eighties. As someone of roughly the same age, I would hate to see a return to that era of neglect of the public realm.