I think we shouldn’t be overly preoccupied with what particular view the core
Conservative Supporters take. I’ve been saying for years and I reiterate that I
think what we’ve got to do is show a great deal more interest in what is thought
and wanted by people who are not currently voting Conservative than what is
thought and wanted by those who are currently voting Conservative because with
that core vote we didn’t win last time, or the time before, or the time before
that so frankly I don’t have much patience with those who simply say, ‘ooh! You
can’t upset the base! You mustn’t say anything that will offend the traditional
Conservative supporter.’ We know from the experience of Tony Blair taking Labour
from impotence to government that the challenge in British politics is to reach
out way beyond your base and to attract a whole new generation of voters to
rally to your standard. And it’s because David Cameron recognises that and is
determined to pursue a modernising approach appealing to the centre ground that
I believe he deserves support and will succeed.
Fraser Nelson has written a good piece on education policy in the Spectator this week. I especially liked this idea about vouchers and the creation of new schools...
Mr Cameron appears inclined toward a version of the voucher system that
transformed Swedish education when it was introduced in 1992. The dynamics are
as simple as they are powerful. Any qualified teachers can set up a school, as
long as they prove there is a demand and meet minimum standards. The state pays
them a fixed amount per pupil: about £5,000 per year. State education would be
open to any school, or community, that wanted to participate. And that’s
It didn’t sound like much of a policy when introduced in Sweden. Even the
ministers who proposed it expected little uptake. But to their astonishment,
they were inundated with school proposals by church groups, Montessori
organisations and villages tired of having to bus children miles to the nearest
school. New schools now comprise seven per cent of the total: a tipping point.
Once existing schools realised they would lose pupils if they did not shape up,
the entire system was galvanised.
This fits perfectly within Mr Cameron’s philosophical framework. The state
pays the fees, but organises nothing. Civil society is invited to step in, run
schools and take over in areas where the state fails appallingly. Nor is this an
obscure Scandinavian theory. School choice is being used in the Netherlands,
Chile, Canada and charter schools in the United States. Reams of data have now
been assembled, proving that the choice works for the taxpayer, and promotes
equality and social mobility.
THE GMTV Sunday programme is broadcast on ITV between 6am and 7.30am on Sunday.