Asked on Monday’s World Tonight what modern compassionate conservatism
was defined by, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley suggested that
it was about tackling growing inequality of life expectancy and
ensuring wealthy Britain met its responsibilities to excluded Britain.
Today’s Scotsman frontpages evidence that that growing inequality is horrifyingly real. It
finds parts of Scotland where male life expectancy is lower than in
Bosnia, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Iran and North Korea:
"Today, The Scotsman reveals the true extent of
inequality across Scotland, in a devastating study showing the
country’s wealthiest suburb has a life expectancy of 87.7 years, while
a boy born in the poorest area of Glasgow can expect to die at 54.
A child born in Calton, in the East End of Glasgow, is three times as
likely to suffer heart disease, four times as likely to be hospitalised
and ten times as likely to grow up in a workless household than a child
in the city’s prosperous western suburbs."
Iain Duncan Smith, chairman of the Conservative Party’s new social
justice policy group, said that Gordon Brown’s economic policies had
failed to bring the poorest Britons into the mainstream:
"Gordon Brown has chased the poor with money, but this
just takes people to a higher level of dependency that it is difficult
to break out of. You may as well hang a sign on some of these places,
saying ‘abandon hope all ye who enter’. In Easterhouse, we saw kids who
had to get themselves to school and out of bed because their parents
were laid out by drugs. This cannot be cured by money."
Fraser Nelson, author of the Scotsman article, has previously talked about Scotland’s "decommissioned" people. People who the state has decided are too difficult to integrate into mainstream society. The decommissioned don’t just lack marketable skills but may also often struggle with mental health problems, low self-esteem or a history of addiction. David Cameron’s emphasis on social entrepreneurship is a recognition that the risk-averse and bureaucratic state lacks the ingenuity to reach these most excluded of people.
Old Europe often likes to look down on the USA and the way mainstream America has separated itself from the underclass
by putting them in prison or housing them in ghettoes (see here). This Scotsman article and France’s long summer nights of countrywide urban riots suggest that all "advanced" western nations have a big problem.