Daley on Willetts

By Stephen Pollard
May 21, 2007

Janet Daley is on blistering form today over David Willetts' speech from last week:

So let's get this straight: it is now the official Conservative view that parents who struggle and sacrifice their time and money in the interests of helping their children to get on in life are a problem. No, Mr Willetts, it will not do to say that that was not quite what you meant. It is what you damn well said. And it is not just morally objectionable, it is logically absurd from your own point of view.

If you genuinely wish to improve the lot of the disadvantaged, then you cannot want the poor to remain in poverty - and yet by saying that it is only the poorest (those families in receipt of free school meals) whom you deem to be worthy of support, you are effectively branding all those who climb out of poverty by their own efforts as unworthy of your help. So staying poor becomes virtuous (deserving) but pulling yourself out - or pushing your children out - of poverty becomes a vice (undeserving).

...The Cameron project has, at a stroke, restored patrician condescension to the heart of Conservative philosophy. Apparently oblivious to the sinister aspect that their own upper-class, public-school backgrounds would inject into this debate, they have revived a species of class war that prevailed in this country long before the Marxist version: the aristocratic loathing of the middle-class upstart.

UPDATE: Daniel Finkelstein does not approve. At all.


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