There can be fewer more powerful untapped resources in Britain than the desire of parents to place their children in a good school. Every Sunday, pews of school-sponsoring churches are filled with atheist mothers and their kids. You read stories of parents giving up their kids to live with their aunt and uncle just to get a better school.
The single best reason to vote Tory is that they will set up a new system to harness this power, and allow anyone to set up a state school (by themselves or, more likely, in collaboration with the many companies offering to run new schools). The Times today says that 350 requests have been made through the New Schools Network - an organisation dedicated to explaining the system. You can bet this is just the start. Under the Conservatives, parents who want choice will be empowered, rather than prosecuted. And how local authorities will hate it. They have long enjoyed monopoly control of the state sector, some even hire spies to follow parents home to see if they really live in the house they claim to. Labour or Tory, these local authorities will use every tool at their disposal to prevent the competition as power is flipped, and pupils choose schools. All now depends on the Tories drafting the legislation in a clear, simple and short way - so the new school providers have all the power they need to start working with the parents who want them. The current system - of selection by house price, not ability - will hopefully come to be seen as one of the worst defects of an appalling government.