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        « Conservative MPs despair at Cheadle campaign | Main | Reverting to type »

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        » Contract With Britain? Contract With Israel? from The Western Word
        Here is an interesting British take, written by Tim Montgomerie, on shrinking the demand for government services (which has application for conservatives in Israel): Social breakdown is a leading cause of higher government spending. A Conservative prog... [Read More]

        Comments

        Graeme Archer

        I think this is an "aha" moment as far as I'm concerned. If I'm honest, I haven't known for years what the point of being a Conservative was, other than a visceral dislike of New Labour and a belief in freedom - but what does that look like in terms of policies?

        I wouldn't go as far as you, Tim, in describing the James report as the "latest failed attempt" (I'm quoting from memory so apologies if that's not verbatim). I actually found the James reporting incredibly motivating, because it made (too, too) flesh the spectre of a bloated bureaucracy. As a leaflet-fodder type member, I actually believed for the first time that the state really IS ludicrously too big, that it's not just Tory ranting, that we really could give people more self respect by simply switching off all the quangoes.

        But your general point I agree with -- that's all fine (and good armament for an incoming administration) -- but how to win the electoral calculus in order to affect anything? It's just too easy for Labour to win by lying about us, because even though everyone knows we wouldn't switch off the NHS or close down their schools, they're tapping into some atavistic dread of too-much-freedom-too-fast which is associated with us (I think the usual shorthand is "tax cuts").

        So: turn the problem on its head. Use a metric "will policy X increase or reduce the need for a bigger state" to judge individual policies and maybe if we proceed in this way, then we could build up the unifying theory sort of ontologically, if you see what I mean.

        Simon C

        Excellent stuff Tim. Those of us who have been arguing for a while that Conservatives need to reclaim issues of social justice & the broken society, and repair the damage caused by decades of socialist & liberal failure, have also been trying to suggest that, even if Conservatives don't think it's the right thing to do, an appeal to their low-tax instincts should also help, because the tax-payer has to pay the price of social failure. Melanie Phillips wrote about this in a Civitas pamphlet in 2001.

        This article, and David Willett's speeches & articles, articulate this in the context of British party politics for the first time. It may be a tipping point - it should also help all parts of the party understand why this is an important agenda to pursue.

        Blimpish

        Horribly me-too, but yes, excellent stuff Tim. Would agree with much of it.

        But there's a question here that we're not yet tackling, but we need to: why is that we want smaller government?

        I don't ask it to suggest that we shouldn't, but because I think the problem is that too many people are confusing conservatism with libertarianism.

        As a conservative, I don't think government as it is today is tyrannical and the idea that smaller government must be pursued because it necessarily means more freedom is almost laughably liberal sloppy thinking.

        For me, the reason why I want smaller government is because I want Britain to be better rather than necessarily freer - more civilised, more prosperous, more hardy. And to do that, we need citizens to be independent and take responsibility for themselves - and that includes bearing some of the risks and hardships of life.

        Until we start making that conservative case for smaller government, the slash-and-burn mentality will always prevail - freedom comes with a taxcut, but responsibility needs to be taken up by the people.

        Kevin Davis

        Unsurprisingly I agree with all that has been written in the article.

        However, by extension, our real problem is that nobody believed us in May when we said you could have lower taxes and higher spending by smaller Government. We need to be clear about how we find a strategy that can now advance the cause of Social Justice through smaller Government that will potentially lead to lower taxes.

        Turning it on its head makes it more understandable but it is still an awfully difficult "sell".

        Derek

        What is being described here is very good and sensible, and when we get back into power I hope we will carry it out, however it is not the sort of policy that lends itself to a headline-grabbing soundbite.

        We will win power when the country completely loses faith in Labour, and that depends on the economy. when that goes pear-shaped we're in

        comstock

        "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"

        What exactly do you mean by "superior sources of care"??

        Serious question.

        James Hellyer

        'What exactly do you mean by "superior sources of care"??'

        Families, charities, community organisations, church groups...

        Rick

        Will Rogers once said: "Thank God we don't get all the government we pay for !"


        Most of your public spending commitments today are a result of social policy decisions in the 1960s and 1970s; so with over 50% "welfare spending" going on Pensions it leaves it an interesting question which entitlement programs you propose to cut. Make divorce illegal ? Ban any immigrants or asylum-seekers from accessing welfare benefits for the first 5 years residence (at present it is only 2 years for legal immigrants, but no waiting period for illegal entrants)

        Get rid of the Treasury and replace it with an Office of Management & Budget perhaps; or just return Business Rates and Stamp Duty to local government and set them free from Whitehall ?

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