DAVID Cameron has scrapped plans to cut free milk for schools, amid fears voters would associate the Tory-Liberal coalition with the “Thatcher milk snatcher” episode of the 1970s.
The government is unconvinced that the £60m-a-year scheme has any real health benefits, and thinks the money would be better used in a scheme targeted at the poorest pupils.
However, the Prime Minister performed a screeching U-turn when he learned of the plans yesterday, instructing Downing Street aides to brief the media that the plan was dead – even as universities minister David Willetts was live on television defending the proposals.
The remarkable volte face shows how the reign of Margaret Thatcher continues to loom large over the Tory party. Cameron is determined to “detoxify” the Tory brand and consign its “nasty party” reputation to history.
The plans, hatched by junior health minister Anne Milton, were uncovered in a letter to the Scottish Office in which Milton said the free school milk scheme was an “ineffective universal measure” and should be scrapped “given the state of public finances and the need to make savings”.