Russell Taylor – Recovery and reform? Don’t believe the hype.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Less than three years in and the government is making a difference. The economy is recovering, spending is under control, crime is down and unemployment is falling. Conservatives have even found they can raise the dread subjects of immigration and Europe without being compared to Hitler. Times are good. Even the weather’s fine. Okay, so that’s got nothing to do with the government, but since we’re giving praise where it’s not due, we might as well thank it for the summer we’re having, too.

As you may gather, I don’t share the sentiment expressed by some pundits that the government is proving a success. There have been small victories, admittedly, but, unless some kind of political homeopathy is at work, most seem to have come in spite of the government, not because of it. Whatever their cause, the pickings have been slim, and there are good reasons to believe they are superficial. The framework required to support meaningful growth is simply not there. We are still spending beyond our means, the national debt is still ruinous, we still have a massive balance of trade deficit, and the government seems in no hurry to do anything about it. A wrecking ball should have been taken to New Labour’s policies by now, given that they’re largely responsible for the mess we’re in. Instead, David Cameron is like a man who’s been put in charge of the family Christmas and doesn’t want to upset the old’uns by changing too much. Apart from walnuts in the sprouts and a new board game for after dinner, it’s the same as it ever was.

Maybe I’m just too naïve to understand the nuances of the political game. Perhaps you need to be a part of Westminster’s inner court to appreciate that the government’s rate of reform is not, in fact, tectonic, and that its achievements are anything but piddling. Then again, it could be a question of differing ambitions. What I want and expect from a conservative movement may not be what the Tories are about nowadays. Maybe unaffordable spending and a morbidly obese state are the acme of grown-up Western governance in this day and age. Small state? Low taxes? Dandy ideas to bat around a right-wing blog, but they’ll never fly in the real world. Without a sagacious government to show us the way, heaven knows where we’d end up.

Give Cameron a break, say his apologists. He would love to slash taxes, incinerate legislation and tell the EU where to stick it, but he can’t until conditions allow it. I’m not entirely sure what those conditions are, but hell freezing over appears to be a minimum requirement. In the meantime, we’re supposed to make ourselves comfortable in the house that Labour built, carrying out running repairs as and when we can. Sorry, Dave, but that’s pitiful. As a new government, you’ve got five years to make it work, so why earmark your preferred policies for your second term? There’s unlikely to be one if you’re that nonchalant about getting things done. By the time Ed Balls is fanning himself with the nation’s chequebook, it’ll be too late.

I realise the Conservatives are stuck in a coalition with a bunch of sandal-wearing lefties, but I find it hard to believe that things would be appreciably different if the Tories had a clear Commons majority. Concessions to the Lib-Dems have undoubtedly been made, especially on environmental matters, but the government’s Keynesian sympathies, its vacillating on Europe, its cronyism and its forelock-tugging deference to progressive values are not the regrettable but necessary consequences of the Lib-Con pact. They betray an enduring faith in the same Blairite Third Way that brought the country to its knees.

One of the most repulsive characteristics of New Labour was its evident belief that the decisions that matter – the ones that ultimately affect our livelihoods, our lifestyles and our personal relations – should be made on-high by an Olympian council of enlightened beings. Under Labour, we were a government with a nation, not a nation with a government, and this impression lingers today. For all the promises and good intentions, the preferences of the ruling elite still hold sway, and the state still sticks its nose where it shouldn’t.

To appreciate how things ought to operate, look no further than our food industry. It’s a shining example of what happens when the state (largely) minds its own business: no rationing, no bureaucratic waste, and no coddling experts making decisions for us; just a dazzling variety of products at low prices. If the food industry had been nationalised along with the health service in the post-war years, we would still be chowing down on lard sandwiches, scrag end and whatever else passed for food in days gone by. Or worse still, we’d be gagging on overpriced macrobiotic gruel prescribed to us by the government’s dietary nanny-in-chief.

Knowing what we do, a National Food Service sounds like a disastrous idea. If it existed, every sane person in the land would be clamouring for its abolition. So why not kick the state out of other areas of our lives, if we know we’re better off without it? Why shouldn’t our personal preferences define how our healthcare is provided, how our energy is produced, what values we hold dear – the very look, feel and nature of our society? This doesn’t mean electing a ruling elite that’s more in tune with our interests; it means dispensing with the elite altogether and letting our freely-expressed interests determine what kind of country we live in. We don’t need smarter government or more compassionate government; we need less government.

For too long we have been ruled by a confederacy of careerist politicians, tenured technocrats and media acolytes, so brimming with self-importance that they probably think the sun only rises each morning because of a solar elevation initiative they championed on behalf of the vitamin-D-deprived masses. For all their supposed brilliance, they maintain depressingly low horizons, because they are unwilling to sacrifice the institutions and values that consolidate their power. As long as this is the case, what passes for progress in this country will remain woefully inadequate. We deserve more. A lot more.

6 comments on “Russell Taylor – Recovery and reform? Don’t believe the hype.

  1. Simon Roberts
    July 26, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Attributing lack of progress by this Government to inertia or supposed restrictions within the Westminster system is a little too generous.

    We can see the instincts of these people – “green” nonsense was not foisted on Cameron by the LibDems, he said before the election that he wanted the greenest government ever – Osborne seems determined to repeat the financial crisis of 2008 with artifical stimulous of the housing market.

    The fact is that Farage is correct – these people are all cut from the same cloth, having all come though the same system to arrive where they are. They believe in minor differences here and there but on the issues that matter they all hold the same central beliefs and views on what constitutes the consensus – their consensus, not ours.

    How much of this green nonsense, Keynsianiam, immigration, multiculturalism etc are the result of electoral choice? None.

    Margaret Thatcher is correct (your one, not her ladyship) that these are the result of the effect of Cultural Marxism. It has successfully redefined the “right” and the “left” to the point where the Tories are to the left of what would have been considered the middle ground a few decades ago.

    The policies that you describe above are all symptoms. Until people understand this, nothing will change.

    • Russell Taylor
      July 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      Go back 20 or 30 years and there was a gulf in policy and opinion between Left and Right. Not anymore. A concerted propaganda campaign by the Left has instilled a new moral and behavioural code, which Conservatives are frightened to contradict for fear of appearing heartless or reactionary. Consequently, the centre-ground has drifted leftwards, to the point that showing anything that wholehearted commitment to statism, multiculturalism, environmentalism and the rest of the liberal belief system is considered extremist. Tory MPs have come to realise that holding the ‘right’ opinions will get them an easy ride in the media and help themsustain a political system that grants considerable power and opportunity to anyone who makes a living within its ivory walls. As you say, none of this happened with the consent of the electorate. It was a seachange engineered by the political and cultural elite for its own benefit. That’s why UKIP are such an important political force right now. They are a part of the system but not of it. By highlighting how far we’ve strayed from sanity and giving a voice to discontented citizens everywhere, they offer us a hope of change.


  2. Pete North
    July 30, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    “We deserve more. A lot more.”

    No we don’t. We do exactly as we’re told and we keep paying when we’re told to pay.

  3. andrewporter
    July 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    Thatcher created conservative voters by selling council houses – Brown/Blair created labour support by absurd pay in the public sector and increasing benefits to obscene levels. Turkeys dont vote for Christmas!


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