Though we may not like to think about it in such terms, politics is about nothing more than control. Beneath its more acceptable veneer of public representation, our political system – and every other variant in history – is, at its core, one designed to regulate human behaviour: encouraging those traits conducive to our vision of a civilised society and discouraging those that are not. The traditional agreement has been that we relinquish absolute freedom, also known as anarchy, in return for a sensibly curtailed version that strives to ensure equal protection for all persons and property, allowing us to pursue our aspirations and ambitions.
This tacit accord between the rulers and the ruled is now at breaking point. The rampant proliferation of cameras in the high street and on the motorway, plans for a national ID card, the largest police DNA database in the world and intrusive government activities that routinely delve into personal territory all combine to make us the most surveilled society in existence.
Just as we seem to have learnt from Zimbabwe how to finance our unsustainable state spending through printing more money (with which we buy our own debt, in chicanery worthy of all those nasty investment banks that have become the scapegoat for all the world’s ills), we also seem to have learnt from China how to excavate every last detail about nominally private citizens. The dictators of yesteryear would jealously eye the powers possessed by our supposedly benign leaders to find out absolutely anything about us that they so desire.
But it does not have to be this way. As attested to by all the polls, the public is desperate for a big issue that distinguishes one party from the others. The Conservatives therefore need to emphasise what differentiates us from the two parties of bigger taxes and bigger government. The message is most effective at its most basic: whereas they want increasing control over every aspect of your lives, we do not.