What's good about the right?

Michael Gove's speech to the Legatum Institute: the full text.

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It is a pleasure to be here at the Legatum Institute to help launch the Good Right, an initiative by my good friends Tim Montgomerie and Stephan Shakespeare designed to rebalance the debate about what’s best for Britain.

Tim and Stephan have identified what they see as a big a problem with our politics. They know the Conservative Party has been a force for social progress over decades. But they fear it isn’t seen that way today. And they worry that prevents the Conservative Party being in a position to show itself the powerful force for good they, and I, know it to be.

I admire what Tim and Stephan are doing - and I have been struck by the curious vehemence of some of the criticism they have already faced.

For some on the Left, the idea of Conservatives asserting our progressive credentials is unacceptable chutzpah. For some on the Right the idea of Conservatives asserting our progressive credentials is indefensible appeasement.

But one of the reasons why I support Tim and Stephan as Conservatives in asserting our progressive credentials is because they know that it is indispensable to our mission.

Only if we remind people of our commitment to social justice, demonstrate our belief in equality of opportunity and affirm that we are warriors for the dispossessed will we be able to win arguments, and elections, and then be in a position genuinely to help the vulnerable and the voiceless.

People need to know what’s in our hearts before they are prepared to consider our arguments in their heads. 

And it’s vital that we stress our reason for being in politics is to help others, not to implement an ideological blueprint about the size of the state or defend the interests of the already fortunate. We are in public service to help the people who need us, not just those who agree with us. 

That is why I welcome Tim and Stephan’s emphasis on solidarity and security as well as enterprise and opportunity. 

And I know some will say that is an acceptance of the Left’s terms of trade. But I disagree.

Yes, there are areas where those of us on the Right who agree with Tim and Stephan will also agree - up to a point - with many on the Left about Government activity.

Across many on the Right and the Left there is, for example, a commitment to a Government-provided social safety-net, there is a belief in the justice of Government helping the poorest, there is an attachment to the NHS free at the point of use.

But we on the Right part company with the Left when it comes to our fundamental vision of the aims of the State and the purpose of Government action.

We believe in the State as emancipator, providing the means by which individuals, families and the institutions of civil society can grow and flourish.  

We reject the idea that the State should erode individual independence, usurp the role of families, direct the efforts of wealth creators, conscript civil society and encourage dependence.

And there are any number of political leaders on the Right who have instinctively grasped that distinction and mobilised the power of Government to emancipate.

Alexander Hamilton set up a strong central administration for the infant USA, federalising state debts, establishing a national bank and supporting the development of manufacturing. That laid the foundations for the Republic’s growth and flourishing.

His intellectual inheritor was Abraham Lincoln - whose early political career was built on making the case for infrastructure investment to bind the nation together and boost economic growth and who - nobly and famously - emancipated America’s slave population as he secured the Republic’s future.

In the early twentieth century it was Theodore Roosevelt - a Republican - who reformed capitalism to shift power from corporatists and cartels to consumers and citizens. He knew that the surest guarantee of enduring prosperity was an economic system which, instead of making excuses for the already comfortable, was on the side of the outsiders. 

Economic policy should foster competition, welcome challengers, incubate insurgents. And Roosevelt also knew that you needed Government - focussed, limited and prudent Government - but also active and self-confident Government - to make markets work. Left to their own devices, capitalists seek out monopoly positions, form cartels and become rent-seekers. So we need Government to intervene.

As Conservatives did in the UK in the nineteenth century. In Victorian times, Liberalism was the creed of mill-owners, manufacturers and moneymen. Conservatives sought to balance the Liberal emphasis on utilitarian morality and laissez-faire economics with legislation to protect employees, enhance public health, improve workers’ housing and extend the franchise.

And that tradition was built on in the decades which followed.

Arthur Balfour introduced an Education Act which dramatically extended state support for schooling and helped emancipate working class children from the prison house of ignorance.

The Baldwin and Chamberlain governments reformed pensions, ran a slum clearance programme, and introduced paid holidays for workers.

In Churchill’s wartime government it was Rab Butler who extended yet further the reach, and liberating power, of state education. 

Harold Macmillan drove through a massive house-building programme which dramatically extended home ownership.

And in the 1970s and 80s when new concentrations of unaccountable power - in trades unions, in bureaucracies, in corporatist entities such as the CBI - contributed to holding Britain and other nations back, strong leaders used the power of Government as emancipator more powerfully than ever.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan sought to rescue capitalism from the corporatists, fought to extend the ownership of property to millions more, brought monopolistic nationalised industries into the private sector and unleashed enterprise.

They also - critically - stood implacably resolute against the spirit-destroying and soulless Communism which governed the lives of billions. 

Because of their determination to defeat - not just contain - communism, the Leninist system buckled and broke. The leadership of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan led to the liberation of billions - and not just from political tyranny but also from poverty.

The collapse of communism, the global spread of free enterprise, and the emergence of new democratic institutions guaranteeing the rule of law and property rights, led to the fastest growth in living standards and the greatest extension of opportunity the world has ever known. 

That is a Good the Right secured and a victory for progress Conservatives won.

***

Two decades on there are new challenges for Conservatives - not least because old foes have taken new forms.

The irresponsible behaviour of unaccountable big banks, combined with the reckless borrowing of unaccountable big Government and the weaknesses of unresponsive big bureaucracy pitched this country into the deepest recession since the war. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs. Home ownership became an ever more distant prospect for more and more. Citizens who had saved for decades to secure their retirement found that their fixed incomes were overtaken by rising prices. Opportunity was increasingly restricted to those fortunate enough to be insulated from these shocks by wealth, connections or educational advantage.

It was perhaps an irony - certainly a tragedy - of just over a decade of Labour Government that it ended with unemployment rising, home ownership falling, pensioners being pitched into poverty and opportunity becoming less equal.

What has made all these problems more difficult to overcome is the effect which globalisation undoubtedly has had on developed societies and advanced economies like ours.

Globalisation has meant that what economists call the return to skills has grown - in other words - the more well-qualified and well-educated any individual is the more their incomes rise - especially relative to others. And the number of jobs available to unskilled workers has diminished as technology advances and it becomes easier either to move jobs offshore or to automate them.

And alongside these trends generating greater inequality there have also been factors operating under the last Government which favoured the already wealthy. Restrictions on housebuilding kept prices inflated - benefitting those who already had propertied parents. Inadequate regulation and poorly designed tax policies allowed the wealthy and well-connected to protect their property, preserve their incomes and detach themselves from the economic forces hitting the rest of us.

So when this Government was formed in 2010 we inherited a Britain which was two nations - an elite insulated from the economic mess the last Government created - and a majority suffering as a consequence of the mistakes made that led to Labour’s Great Recession.

And what has driven this Government since then has been the determination of ministers to heal that breach, to make opportunity more equal and advance social progress.

***

When David Cameron ran for the leadership of my party he did so, and I supported him, because he defined himself as a modern, compassionate Conservative.

Throughout the last five years David Cameron has governed, and I have been privileged to support him, as a modern, compassionate Conservative.

And now David Cameron is campaigning, and I am proud to support him, to secure a majority for a modern, compassionate Conservative Government.

Right from the start of his David’s leadership we have outlined a vision of Government consistent with the principles Tim and Stephan have outlined - making the State both the guarantor of security and the emancipator of all.

David has argued consistently and passionately that this country benefits from a secure and well-resourced National Health Service funded from general taxation and available to all at the point of need. He has made clear that no part of that commitment will be diluted. David insisted educational opportunity should be extended and inequalities reduced - and demanded the comprehensive system be modernised to make it work, not overlooked in favour of alternatives. David also liberalised the party’s attitude towards development and ensured it was in favour of more housebuilding. And David inaugurated a programme of welfare reform designed to tackle poverty at source. 

These early signals of intent demonstrated that David understood that in Government we would have to be reformers - with a specific mission to make opportunity more equal.

And that is what we have done.

Of course, we came to office with the economy a blasted heath and the deficit a deepening chasm.

Our first duty was to reduce the deficit, to balance the books, to heal the economy. 

And some have argued that the efforts required to reduce the deficit - the focus on value for money, the search for efficiency in public services, the requirements placed on the public sector to reform - were at best a delay to and at worst a departure from any sort of progressive mission.

I fundamentally disagree.

There is nothing compassionate about asking the young to clear up a mess we couldn’t be bothered to tackle ourselves, nothing progressive about stealing from our children.

More than that, refusing to deal with a growing deficit means that the amount you have to pay every year just to service your debt grows and grows, dwarfing the amount you can spend elsewhere. What is progressive about spending more on debt interest than on schools or childcare, what is compassionate about handing over more of our money to financiers than we spend on mental health or child protection?

Progressive Governments of the centre-left, such as Sweden’s and Canada’s, and of the centre-right, such as the USA under Eisenhower and Australia under the great John Howard, have always known that balancing the budget, reducing debt and building up a surplus are investments in our children’s future as important as spending on schools and science.

Those countries which entered the Great Recession with surpluses weathered the storm far better than those who had been profligate. Canada’s sound finances enabled not just wise infrastructure investment but also helped sustain employment and fund sensible welfare provision. Here in Britain, after ten years of Gordon Brown’s economic stewardship, we sailed into the storm with a massive deficit. And the result was a catastrophic drop in growth, deeper unemployment, more personal debt and greater misery for our poorest.

Repairing that damage is a work of faith in the future, the creation of a covenant with our children, it’s the expression of a commitment to lay the foundations now for the next generation’s flourishing. That is truly progressive.

More than that.

The way in which the deficit has been cut has also been driven by progressive instincts.

Spending on the National Health Service and schools has been protected. Where spending reductions have been made - in for example policing or local government - ministers have used the need for economies to drive greater efficiency. Which is why crime is down and satisfaction with local council services has remained high

***

And the reductions in public expenditure have been accompanied by tax reform to ensure the undeserving rich pay more. Under the last Government millionaires from overseas avoided stamp duty and capital gains tax on UK properties, hedge fund managers used partnership structures to avoid income tax, banks didn’t have to pay a levy on their balance sheets and in some City firms bankers were paying less in tax than their cleaners. We have stopped all of that. These - and many other - tax reforms have brought in billions. As the Chancellor set out in the Autumn Statement, “the richest households will make the biggest contribution to reducing the deficit, both in cash terms, and as a proportion of their income.” And we expect them to pay more. The Conservative plan for eliminating the deficit in the next Parliament depends on raising another £5 billion from tax reform to reduce tax avoidance. That is not just prudent management, it is progressive politics. 

Because of the steps we have taken on tax and spending, the IFS record that income inequality has fallen under this Government. That is an achievement in which we should take pride, not overlook or consider incidental. 

Inequality remains the great social and political challenge of our time. Fighting it is central to our mission in Government.  As I hope to outline in a moment, the fundamental answer to inequality lies in empowering those who have been failed by the State in the past. 

But it is also important that - as a basic matter of fairness - we ensure that everyone can see that rewards in our society spring from effort or enterprise and are not accumulated by playing corporate games. 

Restoring the link between reward and effort - emphasising as the Prime Minister has, so powerfully, that Britain should be a country where what you get out depends on what you put in - is vital for making our whole society work. 

Adam Smith - the father of free enterprise - was a philosopher before he was an economist. The analyst of the Wealth of Nations was also - and in his mind more importantly - the author of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. If citizens can see the link between actions and consequences in the economic sphere - if endeavour brings success - then the system is seen as fair, and markets are seen as moral. But if rewards accrue and benefits accumulate without evidence of effort then support for our system and faith in free enterprise decline.  

And one of the central ways in which this Government has made explicit the link between effort and reward has been in demonstrating how the sacrifices made to balance the national budget have led to greater individual prosperity.

By restoring control to the public finances, showing the world we’ve got a grip, we have been able to keep the cost of borrowing down. That has allowed industry to recover, citizens to stay afloat and given Government the freedom to invest in infrastructure.

***

 

It was also the essential precondition for the most impressive progressive achievement of this Government - getting Britain back to work.

The number of new jobs created in the course of the last five years has been truly astonishing - a tribute to the enterprise of British industry, the ambition of the British people and the vision of Iain Duncan Smith.

In the last five years Britain has created more jobs than the whole of the entire rest of the European Union put together. Yorkshire has created more jobs than the whole of France.

These jobs are predominately high quality – three quarters of the rise in employment since 2010 has been in managerial, professional and associate professional jobs.

These jobs are predominately full time – 83 per cent of the rise in employment over the past year is accounted for by full-time jobs.

And these jobs are helping thousands escape poverty and dependence. Since 2010, the number of workless households in social housing has fallen by 270,000 to an all-time low. There are 378,000 fewer children living in workless households – another all-time low.

These statistics are impressive, but behind these numbers lies something more important than proof of economic success. Individual fulfilment. Human flourishing.

And greater equality of opportunity.

The growth in jobs under this Government has not come at the expense of social progress. Quite the opposite.

More women are in work than ever before - there are now 14.5 million women in work, an increase of 839,000 since May 2010. More women than men have benefitted from cuts in income tax - 58% of those benefitting most from increases in income tax thresholds are women. And the gender pay gap is the lowest in record, a tenth lower than when we came to office.

We have also ensured work pays for everyone, by increasing the minimum wage, increasing the maximum fine on employers who do not pay the minimum wage from £5,000 to £20,000, extending a living wage to more public sector employees and encouraging business to do the same.

And work brings not just an income but dignity, not just independence to make your own decisions but the ability to provide security for those you love.

The point was made very powerfully two years ago by the Labour MP Simon Danzcuk in - of all places - The Daily Mirror. He talked about the profoundly debilitating influence of spending years of your life on welfare, the erosion of dignity, the ebbing of ambition. People achieve things through work, he argued. We create, we fulfil ourselves, we build a home for our family, we set an example, we feel part of a team, we have goals we can meet, or exceed. Work tames nature, brings new beauty into being, work heals and work inspires. These are work’s achievements. But nobody, he argued, achieves things through welfare.

We need a generous welfare state to cushion individuals from life’s blows, to rescue them from disaster, to ensure that needs are met and lives repaired. But it has to be the purpose of any progressive welfare policy to enable people - as quickly and as easily as possible - to find work.

That is what Iain Duncan Smith has done - and it has been a moral mission throughout.

Iain knows himself what it is like to be unemployed. He knows what cognitive scientists and psychologists have been proving with greater and greater power over the last few years - a life of learned dependency - a life on welfare - is the enemy of happiness and hope - a life of earned success - work and reward - is the surest route to happiness and fulfilment. 

That is why we want to go further in helping people off welfare - and rewarding work - by implementing Universal Credit and cutting taxes from the bottom. 

And a commitment to getting more young people into satisfying jobs has also driven another - hugely powerful but under-appreciated - set of reforms this Government has introduced.

***

 

We have introduced the most radical improvement in vocational and technical education since 1944.

Under the last Government vocational education was in a shocking state. Hundreds of thousands of young people - many from the very poorest families - were being directed onto courses and were taking qualifications which gave them no hope of securing the good job they deserved.

As Professor Alison Wolf pointed out in her ground-breaking review of vocational education in 2011:

“The staple offer for between a quarter and a third of the post-16 cohort is a diet of low-level vocational qualifications, most of which have little to no labour market value. Among 16 to 19 year olds, the Review estimates that at least 350,000 get little to no benefit from the post-16 education system.”

Labour had created a system where schools were incentivised to enter students for - literally - worthless qualifications so the schools could inflate their performance in league tables. Ministers pointed to the league tables and claimed they were presiding over an intellectual renaissance. While the children they lied to about the worth of their studies found they had spent their time and effort for nothing.

So we set to work to reform and improve vocational and technical education to give every child a chance. We replaced Labour’s worthless vocational qualifications with rigorous courses which required the display of real skills to secure a pass.

We ended the bias in funding at sixth-form which had favoured academic courses, so vocational courses were fairly funded and work experience incentivised.

We reformed apprenticeships so they could not be - as they were under Labour - passed after a few months of whiteboard-gazing in an airless classroom. Now apprenticeships are designed in partnership with business, last long enough to ensure apprentices can acquire real skills, and passing depends on demonstrating real competence in those skills in a rigorous way.

We created new courses and qualifications in computer science, reformed design and technology so it reflected breakthroughs such as 3-D printing and have set up new National Colleges which specialise in the skills - from advanced manufacturing to creative and cultural skills - which the economy needs in the next decade.

We replaced the last government’s alphabet soup with a clear vocational route through school and college. Students now know they can study Tech Awards alongside GCSEs, Tech Certificates alongside AS Levels, and Tech Levels alongside A-levels. They can do so confident that these qualifications are rigorously assessed and command the respect of employers.

I’ve talked so far about the importance of dealing with the deficit - and getting Britain back to work - and these are, of course, two of the central themes of this general election’s Conservative campaign. 

And our whole campaign is based on illustrating the ways in which our long-term economic plan will make life better for the people of this country; not just by living within our means, generating full employment and better rewarding work but also spreading educational excellence, providing security in retirement and ensuring more people can own their own home.

Underpinning all those six campaign principles are proposals for the next five years which are designed to make every stage of every individual’s life in Britain more fulfilling and to make our society as a whole fairer.

***

 

Those ambitions animate our school reforms - and Nicky Morgan’s proposals to extend those reforms is the third of the pillars of our campaign.

It cannot be stated often enough that our education reforms have been driven by the need to tackle inequality in our society at its source. Because it cannot be said often enough that failing to tackle that inequality hurts us all.

It doesn’t just diminish each of us as individuals if others in our society live narrowed lives because their potential is unfulfilled. It also holds us back economically, like nothing else.

The economic forces which shape our world grant increasing rewards to those individuals, and societies, which are smarter, better-qualified and always ready to learn. Societies that invest in intellectual capital - from Singapore to Shanghai and Palo Alto to Poland - enjoy greater growth.

In the past it was possible economically - even though it was reprehensible morally - to leave a section of society poorly educated. There would always be jobs for hewers of wood and drawers of water and those jobs could provide for a family.

But that is no longer the case in the developed world and soon won’t be the case anywhere in our world. It’s not just the capacity of big business to relocate to where labour costs are lowest. Increasingly sophisticated automation - the world of robotics, drones and artificial intelligence - is rendering millions of traditional jobs redundant and placing an ever greater premium on high-level skills.

We can’t avoid or delay these changes - and true progressives would not want to frustrate technological advances which promise so much. The correct progressive response to this change is not to retreat into nostalgia but to prepare our children for its opportunities. All our children.

And that is why this Government has raised the level of expectation in all our schools. It’s not enough just to stretch the academically most gifted, we raised the bar for everyone. 

And closed the gap. Because it was both ethically indefensible and economically self-harming to have an education system which left so many behind. Under Labour, more boys from Eton made it to Oxbridge than all of the 80,000 children on free school meals – the children from the poorest homes in our country – put together. The top five schools in the country – four of them private – sent more of their young people to Oxbridge than 2,000 other schools combined. After 13 years of Labour, students in private schools were 4 times as likely to get three As at A-level as their peers in comprehensive schools.

But now, thanks to this Government, there are new schools - academies and free schools - based in our poorest neighbourhoods which are sending more children to top universities than some of our most famous private schools.

The academies programme has ensured the country’s best head teachers have been given responsibility for our most challenging schools. The free schools programme has meant that some of the best primary schools in this country have been set up in just the last few years - and in some of our toughest areas. Alongside these new schools a new curriculum that sets high standards for all and the investment of more than two and a half billion pounds in the pupil premium have helped raise achievement for all children. And that is a progressive achievement of which we can all be proud.

Alongside building on education reforms our campaign stresses the need to extend our housing reforms.

Building tens of thousands more starter homes, offering discounts to first-time buyers by reducing the red tape which drives up building costs, making it easier for people to get a deposit through Help to Buy, ensuring councils make land available for artisan builders to invest in smaller developments, overhauling the planning system and letting offices and other under-used buildings become houses - all of these changes help fulfil a central Conservative mission - helping people to own their own home.

Extending property-ownership isn’t just a good in itself, it also enhances the quality of millions of lives. The security of home ownership makes it easier to start, and raise, a family. Nothing generates greater happiness and fulfilment in our lives than healthy relationships and nothing helps cement those relationships more than a place each family can call its own. Owning the right home is an investment in a better future - it means children able to do their homework in peace, sons and daughters learning about their responsibilities in a warm and loving environment and the next generation enjoying the prospect of long-term financial security. The history of human progress has been marked by the move from communal living to family living, from uncertainty over tenure to the security of ownership, from the concentration of property in the hands of a few to a property each can call their own. Which is why I think the drive for greater home ownership in our campaign is a quintessentially progressive cause.

As is our commitment to safeguard and secure the position of our older citizens.

Low interest rates have helped our economy grow, but they have also held down the incomes of millions who have worked hard, saved, and want dignity in retirement.

Under Labour the link between effort and reward - indeed between thrift and security - was broken. Gordon Brown’s policies meant, in Frank Field’s words, that the country in Europe which at the start of the last Labour Government had one of the best pensions systems in Europe, found itself at the end of that Government with one of the worst.

Repairing that damage, giving older people the security of a triple lock on their pension, incentivising saving once more and giving pensioners greater control of those savings all help right a social injustice. And we should not be shy of saying that those whose taxes and National Insurance payments were squandered by the last Government should not be left out in the cold.

***

 

The longer, and more fulfilled, lives which so many of our citizens can now expect is a victory for progress. But it does bring with it challenges, not least ensuring that the quality of social care, hospital treatment and support for those living with dementia is assured. 

It’s been striking how Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron have made the quality of personal care, the direct relationship between professional and patient, friend and victim, the defining feature of our approach towards health.

Part of this has, of course, been in response to tragedies like Mid-Staffordshire but part of it also has been that both understand the importance of personal agency - and personal responsibility - in ensuring others flourish.

If you subcontract caring to “the system”, if you make health a matter of “outcomes”, if you regard dementia as a friend’s departure from our world rather than an opportunity to bring them closer to your heart, then you miss the essence of compassion. It springs from the desire to help another because you feel that you ought rather than being told that you must.

And in David and Jeremy’s response to the challenges the health service faces you see what modern, compassionate Conservatism means - modern because it’s aware that we face new pressures as the result of economic and demographic changes - compassionate because it recognises that means we need a greater emphasis on care and relationships - and Conservative because the role of individual agency and responsibility is at the heart of making things better.

I’ve seen this Government apply those same principles and instincts to other issues I care about deeply.

This Government has reformed social work because one of the greatest scandals in modern Britain is the abuse and neglect still suffered by thousands of children - abuse and neglect that scars lives forever and often lies behind the complex tragedies of child sexual exploitation, lifelong drug abuse and crime.  

We’ve recognised that we have to ensure social workers are empowered to be firmer with adults so we can better protect children - a Conservative insistence on parental obligations and responsibilities is the most compassionate approach for children. And if parents cannot protect their children or, worse, acquiesce in or connive at their abuse, then those children have to be rescued. Which is also why we have made adoption easier, have invested more in support for adoptive parents, have spent more on the education of children in care and are reforming the circumstances under which they leave care.

Both the condition of our National Health Service and our child protection system have come under scrutiny this month, with stories in the newspapers that are difficult to read to the end and impossible to explain to our children.

***

 

But the fact that in both areas it has been ministers who have been driving the changes which we hope will save lives in the future should remind us that Government can be a powerful force for Good.

And therefore the Government we choose matters.

In just over 50 days this country will choose.

And I hope it chooses progress.

I fear that if David Cameron is not Prime Minister the progress we have made in the last five years will be lost.

It’s not just that the education reforms which have helped liberate hundreds of thousands of children, or the welfare reforms which have helped create almost two million jobs, might be set aside and then reversed.

It’s not only that the ministers who’ve been driving increased home ownership, pension reform, improvements in health and social care and reform of child protection will be stopped in their tracks.

It is also - crucially - that the economic recovery which powers and pays for progressive reform will be placed in danger.

I do not mean to demean individual Labour politicians I admire or doubt the good intentions of most of their front bench.

But their economic policy - such as it is - involves more borrowing, more taxing and more spending and risks destroying global confidence that we have got a grip on our public finances.

And it is not even as if the extra spending Labour hopes to be able to make is directed squarely at reducing inequality and advancing social progress.

The party’s proposals for education will mean student fee repayments are cut for the wealthy without anything being done to tackle educational disadvantage in our schools. It is a subsidy for those who already enjoy good fortune, with the chance foregone to transform the lives of the less fortunate.

What is worse, the electoral arithmetic, and Labour’s weakness in Scotland, make the chance of a Labour majority Government increasingly remote. And raises the risk of Miliband seeking an alliance with the Scottish Nationalist Party to break into power.

If anything, the SNP is even less progressive than Labour - their commitment to much higher borrowing places even bigger debts on our children’s shoulders and SNP education policy, as the best Labour voices have pointed out, has nothing to offer children trapped in failing schools but guarantees free higher education for the children of millionaires.

And - as we all know - the campaign pitch of the Scottish nationalists in this election is a demand for as much money as possible to be invested, not in the poorest, those most in need or the most vulnerable, wherever they live in these islands, but in Alex Salmond’s pork barrel.

That is why - in the weeks ahead - I will be doing everything I can to remind people of the Good this Right of Centre Government has achieved, the progress we have made, the opportunities we have extended. And I know I and my colleagues will also be laying out how much more can be achieved - to secure our future, make opportunity more equal and ensure that Britain is the fairest, most progressive and most successful nation in the world.