James Forsyth

Making the moral case

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Too often, politicians on the right, wrongly and short-sightedly, cede the moral high ground to the left. Conservatives in Britain have been particularly guilty of accepting, or at least not disputing, the left’s claims to moral superiority and merely arguing that their approach is more effective. One result of this is when the left manages to look competent, as it did under Blair, voters flock to it. So it is refreshing to see Michael Gove making the moral case for the Tory’s education policies in a speech to Barnado’s tonight:

“Our approach to education reform is driven, explicitly, by a sense of moral purpose. We believe education is a good in itself, the key not just to economic well-being but a richer inner life and a more civilized society. We believe education is the key to personal growth and independence - a good education should give every child the chance to become author of their own life story - shaping their own destiny, not the victim of forces beyond their control. And we believe the current distribution of educational opportunity in this country is indefensibly unequal, denying children from poorer backgrounds the opportunities the wealthier take for granted.”

To borrow a phrase from American politics, education is the civil rights issue of our time: anyone who is serious about reducing inequality in Britain and increasing social mobility, let alone making the country competitive in the future, has to start with reforming our broken education system. The Conservatives have grasped this. Those who want an end to a situation where the life chances of so many children is determined by the income of their parents, should vote Conservative at the next election. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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