DAVID Cameron secured a Conservative majority at the last general election for one simple reason: people trusted him more than the other candidates to deliver on the promises he made to Britain.
This faith can in large part be attributed to Mr Cameron’s realism when it comes to matters such as the economy and the difficult decisions that need to be made. In keeping with such pragmatism is the Prime Minister’s general – and admirable – disinclination to make pledges he cannot keep.
Yet there is one notable instance where he diverted from this instinct. Back in 2010, he pledged to reduce net migration – the amount of people coming into the country every year minus the amount of people leaving it – to below 100,000. Latest figures, however, show that the annual figure now stands at a record high of 330,000.
This issue has become a source of political embarrassment for Mr Cameron, who insists he is still working towards that magic number of 100,000 but that it is a target and no longer a promise.
Yet, in a sense, he is a victim of his own success. In instituting sound economic principles which have turned Britain into the fastest-growing economy in Europe, he has made the country even more attractive to migrants. Indeed, moves to deny welfare payments to new immigrants will not help because the availability of jobs is the main factor encouraging people to move here.
Having set himself an impossible task, Mr Cameron is now seemingly powerless to keep migrant numbers under control, heightening concerns over the strain placed on public services such as housing, hospitals and schools – and increasing the pressure on him to assuage them.
Then there is the fact that the European Union’s free movement rules allow any EU citizen to enter Britain freely, meaning that this issue will undoubtedly fuel further calls for a clean break from Europe – which one suspects is the last thing Mr Cameron wanted.
Free school fiasco
Students have right to stability
IF the Government is to overcome widespread public scepticism in relation to its championing of free schools then it is essential that parents feel confident these institutions are subject to oversight that is just as rigorous as their traditional counterparts.
It is certainly wholly unacceptable that families are notified just before the start of term that a free school in which their children are enrolled will not be opening on time.
Yet this has been the case on several occasions. The One in a Million free school in Bradford, for instance, opened its doors 12 months late having only discovered that its Government funding was not being approved a week before it was set to open.
The Local Government Association is therefore quite right to highlight this issue, sensibly insisting that if the Government has concerns that a school won’t be ready on time it should alert parents prior to national offer day in April when places are allocated, so that they and local councils have time to make alternative arrangements.
Doubts remain as to whether free schools improve standards in the manner that first Michael Gove and now Nicky Morgan would have us believe. There is also the question as to whether they lead to money being channelled into areas where there is a surplus of school places rather than being targeted at those where classes are overcrowded.
At the very least, however, free schools should afford just as much stability to their pupils as is the case for mainstream, state-run schools. When it comes to this most basic of provisions, there is no excuse for them falling short.
Money in the bank
Rising number of millionaires
CLEARLY the economic recovery has made a more significant difference for some than it has for others. A study by Barclays points to a staggering 200,000 new millionaires having been created in Britain in just five years.
And the good news is that this new-found wealth is not just restricted to London and the South East.
Leeds has the fifth highest number of millionaires outside the capital and there are clear signs that northern regions are starting to close the gap with London in terms of prosperity on the back of booming house prices and stock market gains.
Meanwhile, those of us who are not fortunate enough to be worth seven-figure sums should console ourselves with the thought that money may make the world go round but it does not necessarily make you happy – and hope that no one is mean enough to tell us any different.