So now the coalition stretches as far as Labour, with the news that Frank Field is being
lined up as an anti-poverty advisor for the government. In itself, this is an encouraging development: Field
is one of decent men of Westminster – committed, informed and passionate. But when you look at it beside the Tories’ other appointments in this area, then it really becomes
exciting. Field, IDS, Grayling and Lord Freud – all are deeply knowledgable about the welfare reform agenda, to the point where it’s difficult to think of many more impressive teams in
recent political history. So perhaps there is hope for this most difficult of policy areas, after all.
One thing to look out for is whether Field bolsters the government’s message on immigration. He has long advocated a cap on immigration, and stressed this morning that this has to be considered in any discussion about
reducing poverty. With the Labour leadership candidates looking to outflank the
Tories on this, then Field’s involvement could turn out to be crucial.
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