The Thatcherite caricature of Conservatives as small state crusaders only alienates the majority of the electorate
We develop neural networks, particularly but not exclusively in sensitive periods such as early childhood and adolescence, which form a multitude of processes that are stimulated in different environments. In other words, the unique social experiences we encounter mix with our genetic profile to form the different dispositions we have at different points in time.
The evidence from abroad is clear and robust: integrated education, health and welfare services can reap long-term benefits to individuals and the public purse. Politicians shouldn’t despair and axe Sure Start. Rather, it should seek innovative ways of making sure the scheme fulfils its potential.
The Conservatives’ passion for the Big Society chimes with a deep human desire to be an esteemed and popular part of a social group – whether it be a family, a peer group or a neighbourhood. Indeed, psychologists report that even the most ambitious people – doggedly independent, seemingly – are actually motivated by a longing to achieve membership of some exclusive grouping.
Politics attracts those with passionate views, understandably. It’s the arena where you try and change society according to your principles.
Our networks – including our nationality, class and family – are critical in the formation of our character. This is because our actions are heavily determined by the unconscious, which is shaped by social context.
So our chances of success in life are hugely influenced by the networks we belong to. But these networks are becoming increasingly segregated, especially by social class, which is undermining social mobility.
Ah, yes, a regular feature at Conservative Party Conference: a prominent Conservative politician reassures the grassroots that the Party will eventually, sometime in the future, restore a tax break for married couples. This year it’s Iain Duncan Smith, yet again. We hear that our broken society will be repaired by recognising marriage in the tax system. Nonsense.
Time to blame the parents. Again.
UNICEF published a report yesterday attempting to explain why the UK appeared bottom of the league for child well-being among 21 developed countries in their landmark 2007 report.
David Cameron said he was “very relaxed” about offering the children of his friends internships to work in his office. Here was an insight into how the PM views the Big Society: acts of neighbourliness; helping out friends; fostering strong social bonds.
The electorate punished the Liberal Democrats in the local elections. But the UK is becoming more liberal. And this is why the Tories, despite calls for Cameron to go the polls now, should stay in coalition with the Liberals.
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter