Oliver Letwin is leading for the Tories in a Commons debate on the relief of poverty – a debate I’m proud to report was initiated by the Conservatives. The debate comes a day after Iain Duncan Smith’s 188 recommendations into fighting the social injustices that have got worse under Labour. Speaking yesterday David Cameron said:
"Gordon Brown’s social failure is costing this country over a hundred billion pounds a year. But it is not just the financial cost that should concern us. It is the cost in wasted lives, dashed hopes and disappointment. And the scandal is, this was what the Labour government was supposed to fix. Gordon Brown said he wanted to get Britain back to work. But after ten years of his policies, five million people of working age – over one in ten adults – are out of work and on benefits. Gordon Brown said he wanted to give young people the best start in life. But after ten years of his policies, there are over a million young people not in work, education or training – more than in 1997. Gordon Brown said he wanted to tackle poverty. Yet after ten years of his policies, the poorest people in our society have got poorer – and there are more of them. What on earth was it all about, these last ten years, if it wasn’t about this? With this report as our evidence we will take Gordon Brown to pieces for his devastating social failure. These Labour politicians, they talk about being progressive; they pose as the champions of the poor and the vulnerable… and all the while preside over a Britain where the poorest and most vulnerable sink further and further behind. We’ve got among the worst rates of teenage pregnancy, drug addiction and personal debt in Europe."
The LibDems pose as progressives too but where were they in today’s poverty debate? The above screen shot of the Commons chamber from just a few minutes ago shows a respectable number of Tory MPs but empty LibDem benches behind David Laws. Surely their unlikely hopes for a good result in Ealing Southall aren’t being put before their commitment to fighting poverty?