Lydia Darling analyses the centre of British politics, and how it has never looked more appealing…
If we ever needed proof that we are now a one-party state surely it is the current debate on child benefit. On the one hand we have David Cameron arguing against child benefit for the higher rate taxpayer. On the other hand we have Ed Miliband arguing for it. What could possibly be their motives for such counter-intuitive reasoning? Are they simply heading up each other’s parties?
Part of the Miliband political dynasty as he is, and having been educated at Oxford and LSE, it is unlikely Ed needs to worry about the twenty quid for Daniel’s baby massage sessions, so it is unlikely to simply be for personal gain. It must therefore be a strategy with a broader political aim. Perhaps it is to reassure middle Britain that Labour is still New Labour, has not forgotten them and still deserves their vote.
The wealthy Etonian, David, who married more wealth in the form of the baronet, Sir Reginald Sheffield’s daughter, Samantha, is also unlikely to need twenty quid to pay for Florence’s Farley’s Rusks. So is this just altruism on the part of our PM, or has he too a broader political aim? Perhaps it is to reassure the working classes that his is not the Tory party of old, looking after the rich at the expense of the poor, but instead, Robin Hood-style, is picking the pockets of the rich and distributing the proceeds to the poor, hence deserving the vote of all those on lower incomes or state benefits – apart of course from those wily few who are so suspicious of Tory benevolence that their X will ever go beside any candidate whose party begins with “Con…”
One immediate problem for Labour is that now Cameron looks like an altruistic guy giving up his own claim to child benefit, while Miliband looks like a scrimping miser taking money from wherever he can get it, even when he does not need it. The other problem for Labour is that, as any demographic study shows, there are quite a lot more people at the bottom of the income pyramid, than in the middle of it. Cameron’s policy, therefore, has the potential to draw in more working-class voters than Labour’s targeted middle-class slice of the pyramid.
Meanwhile Cameron, in his ivory tower, did not expect such a middle-class backlash over the to-him-a-paltry sum of £20. He genuinely thought no-one paying higher rate tax would be bothered about whether they were given this extra change for car parking or not. Presumably, he has learnt a harsh lesson of what happens when you get out of touch with your electorate. How many days of wasted time spent recently reassuring the middle classes that the Tory party will always give them tax breaks, when instead he could have been running the country.
The centre has never looked more appealing. It must be strawberry – sweet, but with a tendency to become sticky and leave a bit of a nasty after-taste.
And as far as the voters are concerned,, eating too many chocolates just makes you feel sick.