Wednesday, October 01, 2008

David Cameron - what DOES he believe in?

Widely acclaimed as one of his best speeches, David Cameron was lining up the Conservatives as a future government.

It was a mixed bag, but plays to the philosophical middle of the road in the UK. Some snippets:

Supporting the armed forces "We are going to stop sending young men to war without the equipment they need, we’re going to stop treating our soldiers like second class citizens we will do all it takes to keep our country safe and we will do all it takes to protect the heroes who risk everything for us."

He thinks freedom is anarchy, sadly "But freedom can too easily turn into the idea that we all have the right to do whatever we want, regardless of the effect on others. That is libertarian, not Conservative - and it is certainly not me."

Sensible personal responsibility extended to obligations towards others, your existence allows others to claim upon you. Is that what this means? "For me, the most important word is responsibility. Personal responsibility. Professional responsibility. Civic responsibility. Corporate responsibility. Our responsibility to our family, to our neighbourhood, our country. Our responsibility to behave in a decent and civilised way. To help others. That is what this Party is all about. Every big decision; every big judgment I make: I ask myself some simple questions. Does this encourage responsibility and discourage irresponsibility? Does this make us a more or less responsible society? Social responsibility, not state control. Because we know that we will only be a strong society if we are a responsible society."

He sounds good on cutting spending: "It means ending Labour’s spendaholic culture it means clamping down on government waste and it means destroying all those useless quangos and initiatives. So I will be asking all my shadow ministers to review all over again every spending programme to see if it is really necessary, really justifiable in these new economic circumstances. But even that will not be enough."

He says taxes are YOUR money: "I know it’s your money. I know you want some of it back. And I want to give it to you. It’s one of the reasons I’m doing this job. But we will only cut taxes once it’s responsible to do so once we’ve made government live within its means. The test of whether we’re ready for government is not whether we can come up with exciting shadow budgets. It is whether we have the grit and determination to impose discipline on government spending, keep our nerve and say “no” - even in the teeth of hostility and protest."

Then he starts to want to spend your money, on ridiculous pet projects, while stopping the private sector spending its money: "I have never believed in just laissez-faire. I believe the government should play an active part in helping business and industry. So when our economy is overheating in the south east but still needs more investment in the north the right thing to do is not go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow but instead build a new high speed rail network linking Birmingham, Manchester, London, Leeds let’s help rebalance Britain’s economy."

Then he swings back to not believing in Nanny State: "Labour are clutching at it as some sort of intellectual lifeline. It goes like this. In these times of difficulty, we need a bigger state. Not just in a financial and economic sense, but in a social sense too. A Labour minister said something really extraordinary last week. It revealed a huge amount about them. David Miliband said that “unless government is on your side you end up on your own.” “On your own” - without the government. I thought it was one of the most arrogant things I’ve heard a politician say. For Labour there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance."

Just when it sounds good he wants "efficient government", and more obligations upon people: "No, when times are tough, it’s not a bigger state we need: it’s better, more efficient government. But even more than that we need a stronger society. That means trusting people. And sharing responsibility."

So that's the choice in the UK. A party that will offer more choice in education, and reform welfare, but believes you do owe others a living, believes business should be subsidised, believes in less government, believes in personal responsibility, but also collective responsibility for others.

Truly this is what the centre-right is about - half of it I can vote for, support, and know it is a lot better than Labour - but then it still wants to waste money on subsidies, interference, and the NHS. Have no bones about it, this is about change, it is different from Labour - unlike National in New Zealand - but it is still disappointingly weak for a libertarian. I can hope the Conservatives can shrink the state, but it really is only a start - well, continuing from what Thatcher did (and reversing some of what Labour has done).


Anonymous said...

I fear that Mr. Cameron totally misunderstands what a libertarian is. They are not to be confused with anarchists.

Just my opinion said...

I voted for David Davies.... Cameron is a sell out. A few nice sound bites here and there but he is like Key, the destroyer of the ideology they are supposed to be protecting.