In this guest post, Ella Prostick takes a look at just how ‘Progressive’ the Conservatives are under Cameron
It’s been a year since David Cameron’s speech in which he argued that social problems were the result of people’s choices and called for an end to moral neutrality.
Since then he’s been rather quiet on the subject of morals. We had to wait until January for Ken Clarke to be reported criticising Cameron’s policy of giving tax breaks to married couples and warning that within the party “stuff I associate with the religious right in America, I think, is having too much influence.”
Fast forward six months and now we have the man who sets Cameron’s “mood music”, a member of the Tory leader’s inner circle and former theologian, saying that he sees abortion as “unacceptable”.
And that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children!
The evening’s chief provocateur is Phillip Blond, director of the Progressive Conservatism Project at Demos. Blond stirs the conversation pot by arguing that society should discourage adoption of children by gay couples. There is much hooting around the table and a call for data supporting his claim that having one parent of each sex is best for kids. Instead, Blond resorts to a line of argument I find weak, namely that since humans have raised kids in heterosexual couples for aeons, it must be good.
If this is supposed to be Progressive Conservativism – what does the unprogessive type look like?
Another indicator of what we might expect in terms of social policy comes from Iain Duncan Smith’s “broken society” report, which informed Cameron’s decision to make tax breaks to married couples Tory policy.
Which is full of gems like…
We took evidence from many people working with people entrenched in the most persistent poverty who particularly noted the levels and effects of fatherlessness within this population, where it is so easy for a single mother to get support, concern and benefits… there appears to be an easy dependency on the state which people will not willingly give up. This is an environment where young women routinely express the attitude that ‘everyone else is a single parent anyway, so what’s the big deal if I become one.’
It’s unclear what point he’s making – that young fathers would stick around if there were no benefits available to the mothers? – but the subtext is clear: he wants those same benefits reduced.
Although there have been lots of reports of a clear-out of the old Tory guard in the wake of the expenses scandal, there have also been suggestions that the new young Tories coming through are even more socially conservative than their predecessors:
Those most likely to be new Tory MPs are, in general, less concerned about climate change than terrorism, oppose green taxes and are hostile to gay adoptions.
We’re going to have reason to be afraid in 2010. Very afraid.