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Jonathan Delaney: The Conservatives must remind voters that we are the genuine "party of liberty"

Picture 4 Jonathan Delaney is working in the private sector, having been a Professor of International Relations and 20th Century History at Montgomery College, Maryland. He worked within the Veterans Coalition for the McCain-Palin campaign and is a former adviser to Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden.

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.

Labour has seen fit to criminalise certain pastimes (such as the centuries old tradition of foxhunting) and to violate personal liberties by introducing the smoking ban.  It has decided for parents that smacking unruly children is not acceptable and uses anti-terrorism legislation to snoop on our waste disposal habits.  Its fearless leaders have all but prohibited certain views by incessantly and hysterically decrying them as prejudiced in one way or another, while its self-appointed thought police attempt to stamp out all dissent against the prevailing wisdom in favour of unlimited immigration, endless state handouts and ever closer European integration.

It wishes to remove our freedom of choice in how we educate our children, how we maintain our health and what mode of transportation we use.  As far as the Left is concerned, nothing is too small to be excluded from its potential purview, including, pathetically, our consumption of junk food.

Most especially, Labour and the Liberal Democrats seek to restrict the independence of private citizens by stealing as much of their income as possible.  Controlling the purse strings is the surest way to bend anything to one’s will, a fact not lost on those who have decided to punish success.

Finally, consider for a moment the type of people attracted by this obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Labour’s fixation with regulating all human activity appeals to a group of people who believe that they can and should direct the lives of everyone else.  These people have invariably been such great successes in their long march through the world of public sector employment that they deserve to dictate what everyone else does.  This desire to control even the minutiae of everyday life has given us leaders of the calibre of Harriet Harman, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, amid numerous other left-wing titans. 

Given that politics is in essence a self-imposed control regimen, it falls to each and every one of us to decide who controls us and, somewhat less directly, what they control.  The Conservative Party has not yet put it so simply, but this is one area where a deep distinction with both Labour and the normally irrelevant Liberal Democrats can easily be made.

Good ideas don’t expire and, though it may be too late to change the meaningless-to-most-people "Big Society", here’s a suggestion for a more effective slogan to adorn the party’s remaining campaign paraphernalia: "The Party of Liberty".  Or, better still, let the slogans fade into oblivion as always and enact this statement by liberating us from the stifling embrace of overweening politicians.

Liberty from the omnipresent state; liberty from the pervasive speed/observation cameras that blight our country; liberty from the invasive Health and Safety directorate; liberty from the petty officialdom that strangles initiative and enterprise; liberty from fringe pressure groups; liberty from excessive taxation and inadequate accountability; liberty from compulsory identity cards; liberty from the monstrously illiberal European Union; and, last but not least, liberty from the tyranny of those who seek to control all upon which they gaze.


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