By Tim Montgomerie
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I've now been at The Times for just over four months and of all the articles I've published since taking over the Comment desk one of the most important was a piece by YouGov's Peter Kellner that documented declining voter faith in left-wing parties across Europe. After conducting polling in Britain, France, Germany and Sweden Mr Kellner - himself a man of the Left - worried that "millions in all four countries no longer think left-of-centre parties care about them; and most reject the idea that governments are good at solving social problems." The polling is summarised in the table below:
I don't believe that the austerity we are seeing is a short-term problem for the Left. It's not just that countries like Britain are only a quarter to a third of the way towards getting rid of the deficit. The ageing population means that it's going to be hard for governments to afford any new forms of expenditure that aren't related to pensions, healthcare and social care. There's also the fact of global tax competition. If left-wing governments think they can keep raising taxes to pay for new benefits or entitlement programmes they will find that footloose individuals and businesses will teach them some basic lessons in economics.