Blog & Articles

Cameron must quickly rediscover progressive conservatism

Date: 28. May 2012
Gavin Kelly

Conservatives’dismal spring has served to remind us how a political project, however painstakingly put together, can easily come apart. It also appeared to mark the end of David Cameron’s modernising agenda.

Progressive conservatism – a hazily defined attempt to forge a centre-right politics that is socially liberal and green on the one hand and concerned with improving the plight of the disadvantaged without invoking the big state on the other – seems to have disappeared before it was ever fully formed.

Surprisingly few tears will be shed in Westminster. For many on the right, it was always a project to be sneered at in private and tolerated in public so long as Mr Cameron rode high in the polls. For much of the left, progressive conservatism was an oxymoron masquerading as an electoral project. “Same old Tories” was the instinctive retort.

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Explaining the child benefit saga

Date: 6. March 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

Observing a government in the midst of a policy u-turn is rarely an elegant sight. When it is drawn out over an extended period, and fuelled by briefing and nods and winks from the PM downwards, it is even less edifying. So it is with the coalition's current contortions on Child Benefit.

None of the proposals being discussed as improvements to the coalition's original idea (to axe Child Benefit for households with a higher rate tax payer) are attractive. All are likely to be an administrative nightmare. Indeed, if the government could press rewind I doubt very much they would choose to repeat the initial pledge they made (not withstanding polling evidence showing it could be quite popular). And if they could press fast-forward into the future my guess is that they would probably decide not to plump for the sort of complex proposal that they are reportedly leaning towards (for instance creating what would in effect be a new tax threshold at £50k).

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Cameron is right to focus on quality apprenticeships

Date: 7. February 2012
James Plunkett

This blog first appeared on Coffee House, The Spectator Blog.

If there are ‘no votes in skills’, as the old dictum goes, there seem to be some in apprenticeships. Hence David Cameron's call this morning for apprenticeships to become a ‘gold standard’ qualification ranking alongside degrees from the best universities. His goal is to rectify Britain's shockingly poor performance on mid-level skills compared to world leaders such as Germany.

 

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Cameron Reform

Haven't I seen this revolution before?

Date: 12. July 2011
Gavin Kelly and

This blog first appeared on the New Statesman.

David Cameron's public service reforms suffer from a serious zeitgeist problem.

Buried under the detritus of the escalating News International scandal is the government's long awaited public services white paper. Assuming you missed it, it's all about the need for "narrative" and to demonstrate a coherent governing project.

Senior politicians, and the commentators they talk to, obsess about this. Strange though it may seem to much of the public, the need to produce these wide ranging plans on public services can feel all-consuming to those working in No.10. On this front, the current administration is no different to its predecessors.

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