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Would you be the gotta lotta bottle politician who stopped free milk for young children?

By Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-08-08 at 20.11.07 I'm in two minds about the political story that's been making today's headlines.

The day began with news that health minister Anne Milton was not ruling out cancelling a £50m free milk supply for young children in daycare. A horrified Downing Street then moved swiftly to rule out any change, fearing a series of 'Cameron, Cameron, Milk Snatcher' headlines. Was this good politics? Almost certainly yes. Cameron doesn't need such an emotional 'confirmation' for those seeking such a 'confirmation' that he's just another Thatcherite Tory in open necked shirt. For the sake of £50m Cameron has saved himself from a major Labour propaganda victory. Cameron can't be portrayed as the man who took away Johnny's milk.

But, but, but is this yet another example of protecting a poorly-targeted benefit, like the Winter Fuel Allowance, that is unaffordable given Labour's horrific legacy? Is the Coalition protecting too many benefits that should be rationalised as part of a much larger simplification of the benefits system, that will see a much cheaper welfare state but one that is dedicated to the most vulnerable and not a product of Brown's great project of extending state dependency into every demographic?

9.15pm ITN report:


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