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It's like that marvellous MacMillan putdown of the Thatcher cabinet:

"In my day they were all Etonians. Now they're all Estonians."

John Hustings:
the Tory leadership have not learnt the most important lesson from the last election campaign: lack of ambition.
I agree. You have put your finger precisely on a point that many have missed. This is what is so disappointing about most of DC's recorded pronouncements. Alexander Pope's derisive remark about some fellow writer springs to mind: something on the lines of "In labour for two years, and then produced a gnat".
This feeling of disappointment was very much the case, too, with Michael Howard: when he took over I thought "Now we've got someone really clever in charge" and waited for the clever and interesting policy ideas to be announced, and for them to be explained and described in compelling, convincing, and perhaps even humorous ways. What happened? A handful of trifling, piffling announcements, disjointed and unconnected to each other, as if there was no real guiding brain - let alone a guiding philosophy - behind any of it; and all badly and unconvincingly explained, giving the impression that those making the announcements didn't think very much of them, either.
And now we have David Cameron - someone with a first from Oxford, and from whom, therefore, great things might justifiably be expected - who, when forced to become more specific as to what he believes in, and what he wants for his country, burbles boringly about synthetic phonics or setting in schools. I find this sort of thing embarrassing - he sounds like a schoolboy who has been on a "work experience" placement in an education department for a couple of weeks. I think I preferred him when he was being vague and evasive. At least then there was hope that when he did commit himself, it would be to something good, and inspiring. At the moment, I feel only disappointment, and it is, as John Hustings says, largely because of the timidity and lack of ambition.

"In my day they were all Etonians. Now they're all Estonians."

Just goes to show what can happen when a chap doesn't go to a good school.

Here we are again, confusing aims and means, getting in a big twist about things that really don't matter.

Let's take the NHS. Up until a few weeks ago I would have been on the side of social insurance against the NHS. But lets stop and think about it a moment. Social insurance isn't really insurance at all, is it? It is a tax, just like National Insurance. Don't believe me... ask a Belgian how much tax they pay and see if they include their insurance payments.

If social insurance were going to be real insurance, then one's premium would go up according to risk. Now unless we want to see old people priced out of healthcare that is never going to happen. So, if we accept that social insurance is actually nothing of the sort, in exactly the same way that National Insurance is nothing of the sort, then what do we actually gain from making a change, it is a fight we do not need to have.

Funding is not the problem. Monolithic, monopolistic provision is the problem. By committing to allowing private companies to bid for contracts, and making the NHS a provisioner of service rather than a provider, we can deliver the standard of healthcare that is expected in one of the world's richest nations.

"The core activity of the NHS is not, I would argue, the management of hospitals, the training of doctors, or the recruitment of nurses.

These are secondary activities.

The primary purpose of the NHS is different.

It is to secure for every single person in this country free access to high quality healthcare."

"They now agree that a National Health Service does not have to mean a nationalised health service…

…but they haven't gone far enough in giving a wide range of health providers the right to supply services to the NHS."

- David Cameron 4/01/06

i agree with Deckchair of despair on the education stuff, Cameron could have been more imaginative. but on other things, cameron wont be able to give us imaginative proposals yet because the policy reviews havent come up with them yet. like i said before, GIVE HIM TIME!

Social insurance isn't really insurance at all, is it? It is a tax, just like National Insurance.

Nope. Taxes are collected by the Treasury. Social insurance contributions on the continent are not collected by their equivalents of the Treasury. They go straight to designationed independent insurance bodies.

They're more obviously analgous with compulsory private pension contributions than they are National Insurance (which is a tax).

If social insurance were going to be real insurance, then one's premium would go up according to risk.

That's confusing it with private insurance...

Monolithic, monopolistic provision is the problem.

And part of that is state control. Social Insurance (as opposed to a pseudonymously named income tax like NI) addresses that by taking funding control away from politicians and putting it in the hand of bodies that represent the patient.

"cameron wont be able to give us imaginative proposals yet because the policy reviews havent come up with them"

cameron and co have already decided what they want to do. and it ain't imaginative.

On the subject of the NHS, has anyone heard about the idea of a "healthgrant" where the government divides the NHS budget up amongst everyone and gives them all a grant for health which they then use to buy compulsory insurance and pay for doctors visits. it should cover it all.

the government would agree with insurance comanies a necessary package which they would have to provide.

anyone could provide healthcare/ set up a hospital, so the NHS would have to compete.

i reckon this proposal would give us the best of all world's. a free NHS and private provision.

I have just read Cameron's speech and agree with every word he says. The problem is that his recent policy pronouncements on tax, health and education seem to be totally contrary to his proclaimed political ideas.

"Wherever they have seen a problem, they have seen action by the state as the solution."

Correct. So why doesn't he talk about ways of limiting the actions of the state, reducing bureaucracy and controlling public expenditure, giving scope for tax cuts ?

"we will respond to state failure by empowering individuals and civil society."

Correct. So why has he disempowered patients by rejecting the patients' passport and disempowered schools by denying them the opportunity to select by academic ability ?

There seems to be a basic gap in logic between his general analysis and his specific policy proposals. How can we follow a man who says one thing and does another ?

This has been a fascinating and informative debate and marks a great triumph for the And Theory. To sum up:

David Cameron is a brilliant and shrewd strategist who has the insight to lead us back to power AND a dangerous Marxist fanatic who's plotting to nationalise the banks.

The NHS is perfect and untouchable AND murders millions of poor people, more expensively than they kill their poor people on average in the rest of Europe.

Mrs Thatcher promised tax cuts AND didn't promise tax cuts AND raised taxes AND cut taxes eventually AND raised expenditure.

We never did get an answer on whether post-graduate studies at Exeter are any good.

I'm not too sure what modern conservatism is, either.

Cameron has given a superb speech that outlines how the Conservatives can generate a dynamic economy that benefits everyome. A real breath of fresh air.

"Cameron has given a superb speech that outlines how the Conservatives can generate a dynamic economy that benefits everyome"

Except it doesnt. A dynamic economy is one that requires lower taxes and a smaller state. Didnt here anything about that in this speech. He talks about increased public spending as a plus. It doesnt benefit everyone, because social mobility is something ignored by Cameron utterly. The lack of ambition Cameron shows, for one so confident in his own abilities, is puzzling.

"I hope tax reduction will also be possible but I would have reservations about tax cuts if they could be funded only by increased borrowing. But, as I have posted before, that shouldn't be necessary (unless the economy really nosedives) because it ought to be possible to identify quite a lot of public sector waste that nobody would really miss."

Quite right.

The trouble with those who frequently cite the example of the Bush administration borrowing to kickstart the US economy is that it hasn't really done their economy any favours at all and has largely been a superficial papering over ever-widening cracks.

The US is up to its eyeballs in debt, an obviously unsustainable position which means economic disaster is waiting around the corner.

Anybody who considers the US economy to be in rude health should have a quick glance at how two defining icons of American industry, Ford and General Motors, are doing these days - both are on the verge of bankruptcy and facing relentless pressure from foreign competitors.

The collapse of one of these American industrial giants at a time when the US government has clearly been living beyond its means would soon cure a few people of their myopia about how the Bush administration had kickstarted the American economy through borrowing.

Daniel,

The problem with Bush's handling of the economy is more his level of spending rather than the fact that he cut taxes.

That's why he is rather unpopular among the economically-minded Right in the US.

"Taxes are collected by the Treasury. Social insurance contributions on the continent are not collected by their equivalents of the Treasury.

If payment is mandatory, and the amount dictated by the state, the status of the body doing the collection is fairly irrelevant.

"Social Insurance (as opposed to a pseudonymously named income tax like NI) addresses that by taking funding control away from politicians and putting it in the hand of bodies that represent the patient."

Does it? Who decides the cost of social insurance? Who underwrites it?

"The problem with Bush's handling of the economy is more his level of spending rather than the fact that he cut taxes."

Well given the oft-cited problems with our own levels of spending (a view to which I don't necessarily subscribe), it would therefore be a mistake to fall into the same trap of borrowing to fund tax cuts without bringing spending under control first.

Big spending = "compassionate conservatism"

Ask Oliver Letwin

"Well given the oft-cited problems with our own levels of spending"

Hence cut spending.

Goldie is obviously apart of a small but determined contingent to batter Cameron. Rob is right, in every speech Cameron makes he does express the need for a low-tax econamy... why on earth wouldnt he?

And sets out a vision of a Britain where the econamy is more fluid, families more stable, equal rights in the work-place, encouraging individual and community success in our inner cities. He supports the education bill, and we all know he would go further than Blair by releasing more 'liberated' cash to trust schools. i.e. they can only have 15% of commercial cash. And control 15% of admissions (or did that get totally taken out in the end? I dont even know anymore!!) (free schools?), its a right sham!

I think alot of people get scared when he talks about poverty and the quality of life, I dont know why? They are very serious important issues that affect us all. Parts of Africa are beig wiped out by AIDS, its a disgrace that this is even happening! Its totally out of hand. Cameron realises this that these things have a habit of coming round, like a karma K-9 and biteing us in the arse!

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