Cameron pledges to 'spread around the privilege' in well-judged speech
It was a brave move, but David Cameron yesterday sought to turn his political weakness into a strength, writes London Editor Graeme Demianyk. The son of a stockbroker from leafy Berkshire acknowledged the advantages of a "posh school" (Eton) education. But he turned it on its head, arguing: "I'm not here to defend privilege, I'm here to spread it."
And with that he started to make sense of one of his Government's most controversial reforms – schools – and why it was being done on the grounds of "compassion" – a word he used repeatedly – rather than cruelty, as critics would have it. Schools, alongside cutting back welfare and creating more private sector jobs, will make life better for those who want to get on. Citizens of the "aspiration nation", from those at the bottom upwards.
It is this policy triumvirate that the Conservatives will focus on between now and the next election, and if the coalition succeeds (the Lib Dems are largely signed up to all three) then they might have a chance of majority. Economic growth, good schools and making work more attractive than state hand-outs is a winning formula.
Last week, Ed Miliband's notes-free One Nation speech signalled a more substantial figure than he was given credit. Mr Cameron was wise not to pick a fight, instead opting to explain how people's lives – and Britain – would "get on" under policies already in train, and finally explaining what he stands for. A timely, well-judged speech.