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The new ideological divide in politics will not be over the traditional economic battles of the past. Enterprise economies have become the consensus norm in British politics. This could be called a conclusion to the “provision argument” - generating goods and services to live comfortable lives beyond basic subsistence.

The next ideological battle will be over “happiness” - how contended and satisfied are we with our lives as they are.

There will emerge a divide between those of a lassiez faire mind who say individuals are best placed to make judgements over their individual “happiness”. We will all be familiar with the traditional ideas of minimal government, individual choice and so on. Those with enough savings and skills can downsize or move sectors, enjoying the benefits of flexible and technology working.

Opposed to this would be a more active “social economy" where the government legislates for work-life balance and quality life issues. These more activist Conservatives will see the role of government as much more than just leaving “well-being” to the whim of the individual but will be active in ensuring the pre-conditions for effective happiness

This should become an interesting and lively divide in centre right politics.

The fridge analogy used in the “Crunchy Cons” article is interesting. We have got to a stage economically where our fridges, on the whole, are full with enough food to feed us. The next big issue is over the quality food we have in there.

David Cameron is right to be mindful of how happy his constituents are feeling rather than the old traditional economic measures.

Editor - Do you know how that £100,000 figure per lone parent is calculated. I hope it is not an annual figure.

The problem is that we have got used to expecting the government to do more and more for us. It would be hard to wean us off this, but it is necessary if we are to keep taxes down and encourage people to look after themselves. All this dependence has resulted from a softening of the law and prison regimes. The more we tend to molly-coddle those who cause trouble in society instead of punishing them the more it will cost us. I am not saying that we should not also re-habilitate them with proper programmes, but these should be from within a secure prison regime, and must be compulsory. The people who could most benefit from David Cameron's new National Service, may well not turn up.

Despite the fact that even the poor are better off than ever before in terms of finance, we are seeing more and more anti-social behaviour. That despite more and more taxpayers money being spent on them.

This blogger would like to distance himself from this editorial.

It is big government, the welfare state and lack of personal responsibility that causes social problems. The forces that oppose laissez faire capitalism also include the neo-cons and the "wets".

This blogger would also like to distance himself from the editorial.

The FT appears to me to be referring to liberalism in the classical rather than the modern, big state sense. By confusing this our Editor seems to imply that small government will somehow encourage welfare dependency and crime. Surely Conservatives recognise that these are symptoms of big government.

This blog would like to distance itself from the "Redditch Advertiser".

Its theatre reviews typify all that is negative and cynical about modern journalistic standards. Furthermore, by giving uncritical space to the local MP to peddle propaganda it is helping to prop up a morally bankrupt New Labour local establishment. They were given too much of an easy ride over the summer AIR festival in Arrow Valley Park.


This blogger would like to fully associate himself with the editor -- on this post, at least.

The gap in politics that the FT describes is very small one. I can't think of a self-declared economically and socially liberal party anywhere in the world that gets anything like the share of the vote that our Lib Dems do.

Bishop Hill "The FT appears to me to be referring to liberalism in the classical rather than the modern, big state sense"

If that is the case, what does the FT propose to do about the swelling ranks of dependency Britain? Send them to the workhouse?

The sheer laziness of the FT argument really annoys me -- especially the implication that the only alternative for non-statists is to go and join UKIP.

If the Tories are going down this road, that's great news. (i) it reafirms the correct split between Liberal and Conservative and (ii) the British Public really hate being lectured on how they should live their lives.

Peter Franklin:

I'm obviously unable to answer for the FT. My own preference would be for the time limiting of benefits - the approach that has been was introduced by the Clinton presidency in the US. This meets the classical definition of liberalism (IMHO) but is considered too right-wing for the Conservative party.

It's a sad to note that the Conservatives are now occupying political territory to the left of the Democrats.

In many ways the Conservatives have always occupied territory to the Left of the Democrats -- e.g. in supporting a National Health Services. For all of America's great strengths we could not tolerate the inequalities present in American society. That's not to say that we don't need to think the unthinkable on welfare.

Selsdon Man: "It is big government, the welfare state and lack of personal responsibility that causes social problems. The forces that oppose laissez faire capitalism also include the neo-cons and the "wets"."

We've discussed this before SM and I repaste arguments from 2 December that you never responded to...

Selsdon Man: "We do not have laissez faire attitudes - they are libertine attitudes. Libertarians advocate personal responsibility, libertines do not."

You advocate personal responsibility. Libertines do not. That may make libertarians more personally responsible but I don't see how it makes much difference in creating a personally responsible citizenry. It's welcome, yes, but inadequate.

Selsdon Man: "You are right to focus to on the welfare state, Tim. Should we accept it and allow it to diminish responsibility and result in more social problems? That is a recipe for big government. Alternatively, we can make the case for economic and social freedom and point out that the welfare state damages both."

Go ahead and make the case (I'll make much of it with you) but people aren't going to vote for the end of the welfare state for a long time and we have to find ways of stopping it consuming more dependent clients in the meantime.

Selsdon Man: "You rightly argue for voluntary organisations to take on a greater role in welfare provision but advocate authotarian social laws. There is a contradiction there that you may wish to ponder."

I see no contradiction. At the moment we have a welfare state that is causing serious moral hazard. I think the w/s is here to stay for the time-being. We have to find ways of reducing demand for it.

Your suggestion for reducing demand is, er, um, a philosophy lecture on personal freedom. Great but hardly an effective policy.

My strategy is prohibitions against destructive behaviours and encouragements of constructive behaviours. More realistic, I think so long as society/ voters think a welfare state is ethically desirable for people who fall on hard times because of their behaviours.

We currently have a system that is reluctant to stop socially-costly behaviours and then invests billions (of responsible citizens' taxes) in picking up the pieces of those behaviours. It can't go on and stopping the demand for welfare is much more politically sensible than reducing its supply.

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