One of the most apparent changes to London's residential cityscape over the past decade is the proliferation of private nurseries that have sprung up everywhere. A testament to private enterprise, they have strategically located themselves adjacent to stations and parks, and I share my daily six minute walk to the station with parents dropping their offspring off before jumping on the train.
The grandparents and extended family of infants in London are likely to be at the other end of the country these days, the pressure is on both parents to earn, and so commercial nurseries that charge at a level that leaves enough of the wage of an earning half of a partnership over to make it worthwhile have been highly successful. Working single mothers earning at a high enough level will also be using them. The nursery is preferred over the at-home childminder because it offers their offspring the chance of socialisation with other infants, the building of a basic understanding of the value of social capital in sharing the play-doh.
The commercial day nursery is the visible manifestation of the coping class. A solution that allows both parents to work, but which also benefits the development of their offspring. The kids will be socialising with other kids from similar family situations. These places work. They're fine. They don't cost the taxpayer anything, they help increase national wealth, they help produce well-formed, well-socialised children who will enter primary school with a head start. For all these reasons, Brown loathes them with a simmering socialist fury.
Brown's pledge to extend central State nursery provision to all two year-olds is not a creative proposal but a destructive one. The success of the commercial day nurseries undermines Labour's dearest tenets on state Education provision; a generation of parents used to paying for day nurseries will be eager to ask why they can't do the same for schools, a developed nursery sector may move to expand into running schools, and the whole premise that it's the State's job to impose an educational system of equal awfulness on the nation's kids will be exposed as a sham.
For these reasons, at a time when the Institute of Fiscal Studies is predicting a £65bn budget shortfall by 2010-2011, Brown is pledging a £2bn scheme that will be calculated to neutralise the success of the commercial day nurseries. He will sell it to the feckless and workless who always want the benefits of anything going without having to lift a hand in toil or pay a penny in costs. He will deliberately distort the market. He will corrupt something that works with the baleful and putrescent hand of the central State.
Just another reason to be rid of this malevolent cabal intent on destroying anything good that rises in our nation.