I freely admit I come from a privileged background; I had a good education and a supportive family. I was brought up understanding the values of working hard at school and aspiring to a good career of my own. I am not by any stretch of the imagination “working class”. But then, by that definition, nor is Jeremy Corbyn or the vast majority of his fellow Labour MPs. They number just as many private school, degree educated lawyers as we do. But this doesn’t stop them from stereotyping the Conservatives, who have always been a party first and foremost about equality of opportunity, as morally inferior.
Corbyn is increasingly using class warfare as a line of attack against those of us on the Right who dare to speak out on issues of welfare, inequality and social justice. The implication is that because of our backgrounds we cannot understand or empathise with our local communities. I totally reject this, I hold my surgeries open to everyone in my constituency whatever their political persuasion and background. All are treated equally.
Labour’s battle cry – its “for the many not the few” – demonises those “few” who are not “with” them. Who are those few? Who decides? And what if someone, by their life’s journey of social mobility, a laudable aim that we all say we want, becomes one of the “rich” or the “few”? Does that person then cross a line?
Conservatives, have a simple aim. To make everyone better off – and yes, that means not just in cash terms, but in social, well-being and cultural terms also – and enable everyone to fulfil their potential. We just ask everyone to pay their fair share. And this is not just empty rhetoric; under us, the rich are paying much more in tax than under Labour, we’re collecting more from tax avoidance and evasion, we’ve clamped down on multitudes of loopholes, and income inequality is at its lowest in 30 years. In the education system, the greatest lever of social mobility in the country, we have more children in good or outstanding schools and more children are going to universities. We have a welfare system based on universal credit that incentivises work instead of trapping people in poverty. More women on boards. And more spending on critical public services, targeting support at those who need it most to cope with challenges, including more funds for mental health provision. Put simply, we want everyone to make the most of their talent and potential, if, they in turn are prepared to work hard. We don’t demonise success or put labels on people according to their social class.