There is a well-sorted couple up the road who are not happy bunnies at the moment. Both in their thirties, he works on well rewarded contract appointments with much foreign travel but significant gaps between contracts and she works in education; she may bring the bread to the table, but he puts the butter and jam on it, in the shape of expensive foreign holidays, the Audi in the parking bay and nursery and daycare for their two sprogs (named Adam and Jocasta for all I know). Although I'm on nodding terms with them, my closest neighbour shares a nursery with them - hence the information above. In income terms I think I'm on safe ground in guessing they each earn more than £35k but less than £55k; in other words, they're squarely in the sights of the Coalition's spending cuts.
As Simon Jenkins points out in the Guardian this morning, they have been the true beneficiaries of State Welfarism; whilst this blog amongst many others railed against the waste of Welfare, the iniquity of Welfare slavery and the assaults on our wallets, it wasn't people like our neighbours we had in mind. When the recession hit, it was something that happened to others, those who lived outside of London and the south-east, not those we nodded to in the street. Government savings didn't affect our blogreaders or our relatives.
But for once, Cameron couldn't have been clearer in the run up to the election that this would be the case. He warned we would all have to share the pain, that the measures would hit across Britain, and many nodded and voted Conservative still not believing he meant it. He's emerging as that rarest of creatures, a true one-nation Tory, with a deep inbuilt conviction in fair play and equity, and I have to support him wholly in this, even though the pain is close to home.
For long periods in our recent history, Britain has managed to be a highly socially stratified society without extraordinary differences in the financial worth of each strata, unlike other Western nations, and this has been partly the reason for our political stability. The growth of the middle class from Tudor times as a distinct class has been accompanied by a host of distinguishing characteristics other than wealth. A member of the middle class had an income of £12,000 a year whilst a worker had a wage of £230.77 a week - although their incomes were exactly the same, they were not. A whole caucus of English literature and drama explored the struggle to maintain status and respectability amongst the former whilst the latter could get drunk, have fun and fornicate. Or the struggle of the latter to absorb the mores of the former as they dined in a college hall for the first time. Grammar Schools were not a perk of the wealthy that maintained exclusivity as many Tories wish they were today, but a truly equitable and democratic bridge.
No. The middle class have become too wealthy; the differentials are too great, for a healthy society and a congruent nation, and they have done so at the taxpayer's expense. Unlike Labour, Cameron promises something far more valuable than bribes - a fairer and more equitable Britain, one nation. That's a prize worth winning.