I’ve written a piece for this morning’s Times about reducing the demand for government.
The heart of the argument is contained in these paragraphs:
“Up until now the formulaic Conservative response [to the bloated size of government] has been to identify ever more detailed ways of reducing the supply of government services — Michael Howard’s carefully costed James review being the latest failed attempt to persuade voters that there are painless ways of slimming government bureaucracies.
The breakthrough insight… is to approach the problem from the opposite side of the equation. The problem of fat government can be cracked… by first thinking of ways of reducing the demand for government. Reduce demand and the supply problem takes care of itself. The public will never vote for cuts in state services until they are convinced that those services are no longer needed. Voters may be unhappy at the performance of the welfare state but they will support its continuation until there are fewer needy people or until vulnerable people can call upon superior sources of care.
Social breakdown is a leading cause of higher government spending. A Conservative programme to reverse this breakdown is urgently needed, therefore, to address the crime-ridden estates, weak extended families and substance abuse that have all created chronic forms of dependency.
Social reform is not only the right way to reduce the long-term size of government, it is also the road to social justice.”
I’d be grateful for any reactions to the piece…