At last some meat into which Tory supporters can get their teeth as Iain Duncan Smith publishes his Social Justice Group’s recommendations in the Breakthrough Britain report.



The press will doubtless focus on the issue of tax breaks for those who are married (and it seems that in this wonderful modern age of ours, this must be deemed to include ‘civil partnerships’ as well), yet that is but one out of many recommendations which cover a wide spectrum of the problems which beset the modern family in its attempts to do the best for its children.



The attraction of IDS’s efforts lie in the creation of a sense of there being some clear blue water between the Conservative party and the Socialists, though it would be wrong to suggest that the water is very deep and oceanic.

This is likely to be a war zone in which many other battles may yet develop, for so much of our domestic policy is interlinked with the idea of creating a stable civil society. It also has the capacity to place the Socialists firmly on the back foot. The latter have done so much to damage to the stability of the family, using the tax and benefits system for narrow vote-getting ends for the benefit of the feckless and the workshy rather than for the longer-term benefit of all our people, for so long that it is going to be hard for them to compete on this ground.

Yet there is so much that will resonate with those in the middle ground and so much that represents a change of emphasis from the days when Lady Thatcher could opine that there is no such thing as society (The Huntsman yields to no one in his admiration of the Great Lady, but one is bound to admit that from time to time the odd clanger did get dropped!). One thinks that this will appeal to many Tories who have drifted off to thew LibDems, in that these proposals may well be something with which they can live comfortably.

The Huntsman just has one quibble: it is fervently to be wished that politicians would write in language that is clear and accessible to us all. Far too much of this report is written is language which only incorrigible policy wonks will understand or be able to digest. What, by the Lord Harry, is ‘front-loaded child benefit’ or ‘third sector delivery of services’? The Huntsman is an international lawyer who speaks fluent french and good spanish, yet he found much of the language in this report deeply intimidating. One wonders if anyone up there realises that this sort of thing is one reason why ordinary voters (as opposed to policy wonks, professional politicians, civil servants and activists) feel so detached from the political elite which so often seems to be talking down at us.

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