Wednesday, May 12, 2010

UK 2010 - NZ 1996

Despite the noisy baying of far-left violence touters outside Number 10 last night, already demanding their own bloody vision of the future, the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat (a leftwing wit called it Con-Dem) coalition is not a return of free market Thatcherism.

More's the pity.

Had the Conservative Party been a party touting a shameless belief in capitalism, wealth creation, property rights and a sound scepticism of government on both practical and moral grounds, then this coalition might actually be positive for freedom in the UK. The sole thing the Liberal Democrats can bring is a belief in social liberalism - and by that I am not meaning the vile socialist conformity that means that a priest can be arrested for expressing his point of view, but a belief that individual rights comes first, at least in respect to law and order matters. The element of the Liberal Democrats sceptical about laws on drugs, censorship and creating new offences every time a particularly hienous crime is committed, would be helpful.

Sadly, the salad bowl of these two does not fill me with optimism, yet I am going to give this government a chance. Why? Life's too short to be constantly negative, so I'll rate this lot on what they do, not what they said they would do. For the latter would simply be depressing.

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So I am hoping taxes don't go up, although both parties campaigned on it to greater or lesser degrees.

I am, in fact, hoping that the Lib Dem promise to make the first £10,000 of per annum income tax free goes ahead. That WILL help put money in the economy, just not the way that socialists embrace.

I am hoping that the promises to abolish ID cards, and get rid of the criminal offences created under Labour since 1997 are kept, and the Orwellian Independent Safeguarding Authority is abolished.

I am hoping that LibDem Finance spokesman Vince Cable's recent conversion to cutting the deficit means that some serious spending cuts can be implemented this year.

I hope privatisation increases in pace, noting that unlike NZ, it isn't a dirty word in the UK, and continued throughout the Blair and Brown administrations. The Royal Mail, Channel 4 and Met Office were all considered for sale under Labour, and should be back on the agenda.

Finally, I am hoping that the Conservative policy of allowing anyone to set up a school, with minimal regulation and funding following the pupil (ala Swedish school vouchers) proceeds. It is perhaps the only policy that had anything worthwhile in it.

Yet the seeds of discord have already been sown in this coalition. The LibDems have been promised over 20 middle and junior Ministerial roles, for a party with 57 MPs this is grossly disproportionate compared to the 307 Conservative MPs. It is especially disconcerting given that absolutely none of them have ever been in government before.

So this is where the parallel to NZ lies. In 1996, the National Party and the NZ First Party formed a coalition. It immediately caused discord among many NZ First supporters who opposed National, so the LibDems will already be under substantial grassroots pressure to ensure the Conservatives have their policies severely moderated (not that there is much to moderate).

However, with over 20 LibDems in executive roles it is easy to see where announcements of sheer banality and stupidity will come from. Bear in mind the LibDems include those who have been aligned with the Marxist Stop the War Coalition (Chaired by the supporter of North Korea's regime, Andrew Murray), the LibDems embrace the European Union in ways that the Conservatives rightly find an anathema, and the LibDems are fanatical supporters of cutting CO2 emissions according to the Green Bible of "fossil fuels always bad", and have a Cabinet Minister leading that policy. The announcement of broad agreement on many policies would seem to indicate that the Conservatives had little to surrender, and showed how little the Conservatives really offered that means chance.

Yet it still remains that there are many in the Conservatives eager to cut back the role of the state, and many in the LibDems keen for the opposite. How long those tensions can be papered over is unclear. It helps that, unlike NZ in 1996, the minor party is not led by a prima donna who seeks attention, but does little work. Although it also helps that Clegg and Cameron genuinely get on, not something that could have been said for the Bolger-Peters relationship at first.

Whatever happens, there will be disenchantment. If it proves to be a government shrinking the state then the LibDems will split, as it has been the repositary of protest votes for leftwing opponents of New Labour for so long. If it proves to be a government of pablum and little serious change, then many Conservatives will be fed up and bored with government that simply "conserves" what Labour did, and makes selective cutbacks (and tax increases) to address the deficit.

For myself, I don't expect much difference. If that proves to be the case, then the big question will be whether David Cameron will have changed politics in the UK in form (not substance) by moving the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats together (leaving a sniping increasingly leftwing Labour in Opposition), or if this is the start of a polarisation process as the two parties find their inevitably diverse wings sniping and building support for a revolt.

In any case, the losers will always be the taxpayers, as no major party was standing up for them this election.

1 comment:

Jeremy Harris said...

"It is especially disconcerting given that absolutely none of them have ever been in government before. "

I find that an interesting statement as the Constitution for New Freeland that was part of Libnz platform you ran on when you stood for them, promoted a three term limit for ALL politicians, surely the above, is then, something you support..?