How Labour abuses the middle classes
You should be rich or poor under this Government - otherwise you're stuffed. The past week has shown just how far ministers are prepared to go to help the two extremes. If you are living on benefits, smoke, drink, have out-of-control children and like shoplifting on the side, then the Government can help.
It will provide you with a personal trainer, a supernanny to sort out your domestic problems, extensive family tax credits and will turn a blind eye to anything small you might like to nick from a shop. You don't have to worry about taxes and the police are too frightened to stop you keeping a gun on the side without a licence.
The rich get the same treatment. This Government doesn't seem to mind if they don't want to contribute much to the coffers, so they get to spend their money on personal trainers, supernannies and shooting. They cruise into London from Heathrow via special taxi lanes and have chauffeurs waiting outside the shops so they don't get parking tickets. They are given peerages in return for dosh and shuffle their money and mortgages around with alarming alacrity without incurring the wrath of the state. Just ask David Mills.
It is everyone in between who bears the brunt. The middle classes are now as derided as Mr and Mrs Dursley of Number Four, Privet Drive. Ministers can't bear the hard-working families they pretend to want to help. They dislike their curtain-twitching, the pushy parents wanting to send their children to the best state schools, their whining about the NHS and whingeing about their long commutes to work.
But it's the middle classes who are paying the bills and sticking to the rules while everyone else breaks them - and it's a huge constituency. They are the ones who pay the speeding fines, who will have to fit the new children's seats in the back of cars, who have to squeeze on to the increasingly antiquated public transport system. They will not get a peerage for their 30 years of community service unless they have also given a million to the party.
They are also the ones who can't afford to have more than two children. It's now a status symbol for hedge-fund managers to have five, and the worst off get help with their broods. But those in the middle have to think before they procreate. How can they afford to have a second child, pay off the mortgage and save up for their pensions unless both parents work? Even if they manage to pay for the childcare and the ballet lessons, they will have to help with the university tuition fees (now £3,000 a year).
They are the ones who have seen their tax bills rise without the balancing effect of a large bonus. The gap between the top 10 per cent and the rest of the country has grown each year since Labour came to power. Those in the middle are struggling with inheritance tax (six million are now liable), higher income taxes (1.6 million more pay higher rate income tax than before Gordon Brown arrived), massively increased council taxes, dentist's bills and increased pension contributions.
It's not only Tony Blair who lets his rich friends and the poor off the hook. Gordon Brown woos the rich in the City as much as those on the worst housing estates. He enjoyed the use of Geoffrey Robinson's penthouse hotel suite and his free trips to the south of France, and backed this former Treasury minister even when he was exposed for not declaring his offshore bank accounts.
Interviewed on Parkinson at the weekend, the Prime Minister showed he was every inch the middle-class man, even if he does holiday with rock stars and dodgy Italian leaders. He talked about helping his children with their homework and he worries about getting up the property ladder. Mr Brown's home in North Queensferry is typically bourgeois, and he says he wants his children to have a normal childhood.
But they both seem happier sucking up to the rich or talking down to the poor. They are traitors to their class.