David Blackburn

The battle for the middle ground

The battle for the middle ground
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The New Statesman has interviewed Douglas Alexander, who appeals, as Andrew Adonis has, to Liberal Democrat voters to back Labour to inaugurate what he terms a ‘New Dawn for Labour and progressive politics.’

Progressive is a vague term, but the best definition for it is reform to encourage social mobility. In this morning’s Times, former Fabian Stephen Pollard argued that only the Tories can guarantee this. For the time, Pollard says, he will vote Conservative and all because of Michael Gove’s schools reform.  

‘Mr Gove has promised that within four years of a Tory government, all parents will have the option of sending their child to an independent school offering to educate the child free. The Tories will put a £5,000 voucher on the head of all pupils — with a £1,500 premium for those in deprived areas; will open up the educational playing field to those who want to set up new schools; and will let parents choose.

In Sweden — yes, Sweden, the social democrat nirvana — that policy has transformed everything. A right-of-centre Government introduced it, but it was so popular that no party could now reverse it. When you give power to those previously subservient to bureaucracy and ideology, everything blossoms.

It’s strange looking at the election campaign and hoping for a Tory victory. But since Tony Blair went, Labour offers only tax-and-spend big government. I’ve encountered far worse racism from Labour supporters than Conservatives. And only one party offers to transform opportunities for the poor and the struggling middle classes. It’s not Labour.

The recent Hills report concluded that Britain is riven by inequality ‘from the cradle to the grave’; it indicated that the education system contributed to stagnation. Labour will not demolish the monopoly of state and union institutions that suffocate the education system. We say this a lot on Coffee House, but a vote for the Tories is the surest way to decongest Britain’s social ills.