I was going to write something wondrously funny about Peter Watt, but I’ve decided that Hopi Sen has done it first, and done it better, here. So instead I thought I’d berate the Tories. I think Hopi would approve. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that David Cameron had made a speech at a Demos event. I then focussed more on his near neighbour at that event, Frank Field. I was so busy swearing at my office wall about the actions of Field that I didn’t really go into the content of the speech itself. One of the main soundbites that his press team pushed was the following:
“What matters most to a child’s life chances is not the wealth of their upbringing but the warmth of their parenting.”
Or, in other words, children brought up with love and care do better than those who are unloved. Can’t argue with that. But what he’s also implying there is that poverty is irrelevant. That people who come from the poorest backgrounds, surviving with the aid of the welfare system are at no significant statistical disadvantage when compared to those descended from the bastard offspring of William IV. Or children of multimillionnaire wallpaper magnates for example. I may have paraphrased his exact quotes but, still, what an outrageous claim to make!
Did you see what he did there? It was quick. A nice piece of sleight-of-hand. The millionnaire Paul Daniels would be proud. If you weren’t concentrating you’d have missed it. Compassionate and caring is what the Conservatives have been claiming to be for the last few years, but at the first opportunity to discuss their policy for childcare, with a wave of his hand and a flick of his wrist, he twisted the findings of a research paper to say that giving money to the poor through welfare support, tax credits, surestart, and so on was not as important as encouraging people to stay in marriages (no mention of love here, you should note) and giving tax breaks to the wealthy. I know social workers and teachers who would disagree most strongly.
As Gordon Brown once said, the more Cameron speaks the less he has to say.