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The big idea of early intervention

By Tim Montgomerie
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Earlier today I was rebuked on Twitter for tweeting a link to this powerful video of very brave Syrians protesting en masse against their totalitarian government. Some people seem to think the only news we're allowed to discuss is Hackgate. Ignoring those people again I'd like to draw attention to a speech that IDS gave yesterday to the Centre for Social Justice on the big idea of early intervention.

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When I helped IDS launch the CSJ there was one persistent strategic tension between us. I wanted the CSJ to be very focused on renewing the Conservative Party's one nation tradition. He wanted the CSJ to be cross party. He wanted the CSJ's ideas to be accepted by people across the political spectrum so that welfare policy was both renewed and not abandoned when governments changed. That's why people like David Blunkett sit on the CSJ's advisory board and it's why the CSJ's biggest reports - like Breakdown Britain - have been very data heavy. One of the biggest ideas that IDS has wanted to get accepted by other political parties is the idea of early intervention and he invited Labour MPs Frank Field and Graham Allen to work with him on the idea. Both have completed reports on the subject for Cameron and Clegg. Frank's is here and Allen's report was published on Monday.

Yesterday in his remarks to a CSJ gathering of poverty-fighting organisations IDS made the case for EI:

  • "Frank Field’s report into life chances cited research showing that the simple fact of a parent being interested in their children’s education could increase the child’s chances of moving out of poverty as an adult by 25 percentage points."
  • "Graham Allen reminded us of the fact that a child’s development score at just 22 months can serve as an accurate predictor of educational outcomes at 26 years."
  • "Studies show that at birth only 25% of a child’s brain is formed.  By the age of three, 80% is. So it is important that we offer support to every child to reach their full capacity as early as possible."

So we can add early intervention to some of Cameron's other big ideas including see-through government; society as well as the state fighting poverty; decentralisation of power to localities and professions; and payment-by-results.



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