As I wrote before, it is difficult to get enthusiasm for the past five years of Conservative led coalition government. Yes, the economy has rebounded, but this is largely been a smoke and mirrors exercise that, if the Tories are honest, may well have been implemented by a Brown or Blair led government.
|It's what the Tories wont do that is the relief|
It is based on two foundations.
The economy is fixed?
One is just barely getting public finances into sufficient order, with a series of tax cuts, that bond markets are content and money that was once being transferred into largely wasteful public sector administration, and welfare handouts, are now in the form of tax cuts (notwithstanding the very damaging increase in VAT at the beginning). Public debt is still rising, the budget deficit is still £90 billion per annum, but the state sector as a proportion of GDP has shrunk from 45% to around 40% and the private sector has more than matched any cuts in state sector "jobs". The Conservatives promise to balance the budget next term (they promised to balance it this past term), but without tax increases. This means the private sector growing to fill a net shrinking state sector.
The second foundation is printing money. The Bank of England has maintained its base rate at 0.5% throughout the term, and credit is cheap. The money is flowing into property, stocks and shares and other investments. Few in politics question this, those who do point out that one cause of the last crash was the availability of cheap money, because low/virtually non-existent consumer price inflation doesn't reflect the asset price inflation that is part of the bubble of growth.
The boom and bust cycle has recommenced, so let's not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is a genius, he is merely following Treasury advice and tinkering over priorities.
If you want reasons to have a modicum of enthusiasm for the Conservatives there really are only two areas of policy where there is hope for those of us wanting a future of more freedom and less government. Education and the European Union.
Setting the poor free from the council run education factories
2.2 million pupils are now educated in what are essentially independent "free" schools albeit within the state sector, but completely outside the dead-hand of council control. They are established by enthusiastic educational social-entrepreneurs, whose focus is on excellence, diversity and choice in education. They can hire "unqualified" teachers. You know the ones: the scientists, historians, musicians, writers who can inspire through experience and who are excellent communicators. Not the BA graduates who can pontificate about "white privilege", "equality", "sustainability" and get children all excited about voting to make decisions as a group, but also tell the brightest to "share their gifts" with others. The Conservatives offer more of this, and to extend it further, as they pour funding into supporting new free schools according to what parents want, enabling them to remove their kids from the mediocre council schools that are emptying. This offers a great opportunity to break education away from the deadweight failure of post-war progressive state education teacher union dominated conformity and mediocrity.
For the European Union, that club once of free trade and open borders, balancing blatant protectionist rent seeking for agriculture and vanity construction projects. I once hoped the new eastern European Member States would provide enough influence to drive it more towards the former, but the lure of billions of Euros in structural adjustment transfers has kept them mostly mute. Moreover, Hungary own government has slipped back into a mode of xenophobia, state property confiscation and corruption of the media and judiciary, and the politicians and bureaucrats at Brussels do little about it. Yes, David Cameron wants the UK to remain in the EU, but the offer of a referendum on EU membership is a chance to change the UK's relationship with it. It's a chance to leave and have a formal free trade agreement, and to leave behind the subsidies, the customs union and the ever growing regulatory burden of a bureaucracy that is fundamentally unaccountable. The European Union represents increasingly the decline of Europe, as it remains impotent to demand the structural reforms needed of the sclerotic Italy (which has not had net economic growth for nearly 20 years) and France, whilst seeking ever more states to bring under its umbrella, primarily by offering subsidies from northern Europe including the UK. It remains notable that neither the Norwegians nor the Swiss or Icelanders have decided to join (although between them they make some financial contributions to it and agree to follow some regulations)
Free schools and freedom from the deadweight bureaucrat behemoth of the European Union are all there is, besides a handful of tax cuts (which are too few).
However, on their own they aren't enough, but there is a reason to vote, in some cases Conservative, but not always, to do something more negative - to keep Labour and the Scottish National Party out.
Had Labour been led by David Miliband, and been a rehash of the previous government, there wouldn't have been much between it and the Cameron-led Conservatives. However, his brother Red Ed has taken Labour and swung it to the left, with a manifesto and rhetoric that are the most statist, most anti-free market and more disturbingly, anti-personal freedom since the 1983 Marxist manifesto of Michael Foot.
Workers of the UK unite, you have nothing to lose but your private sector jobs
It has harnessed the class war that the trade unions, who backed Ed Miliband (and outvoted both the party members and the Parliamentary caucus to make him leader), never abandoned. It's the class war of his late communist father, that Ed - the younger brother - couldn't let go of, and it's fundamentally deceitful, toxic and disturbing.
It's not just that he will end the free schools programme, meaning only wealthy parents can afford choice of schools for their kids, leaving the poorest stuck with the lottery of whatever monopoly school their council offers (but all teachers will have to be "qualified" and unionised you can bet). It's not just that he will introduce new taxes on owning expensive homes, on earning more than £150,000 and abolish the non-domicile tax status that encourages thousands of the best, brightest and wealthiest to live in the UK (and each pay in average income tax on UK earnings 2.5 times the average wage). It's not that he wants to ban household energy price increases, and require all new power generating capacity to be renewable (and so much more expensive). It's not that he spreads the perennial (and always disappointing) rumour that the Tories are going to dismantle the NHS (they aren't, they're increasing spending).
Profit is evil
It's that he is at best suspicious, and at worst hostile to entrepreneurship and free enterprise. His agenda includes making employment tribunals free to employees wanting to bring claims, which with his class warrior hat on (purely theoretical mind you, he's never worked in the private sector) couldn't possibly mean employees would invent grievances against employers for personal gain. His readiness to establish new regulations for the energy, banking, property rental and railway sectors (including helpfully setting up a new state rail operator to compete with private ones), is based on a belief that there isn't a problem that can't be regulated away. He wants laws to cap profits in the health sector, he wants laws to force energy companies to lower prices when wholesale prices drop.
Your land is our land
Yet it more intrusive than that. He has said he wants the power to confiscate private land if a property owner obtains planning permission, but doesn't build the approved development within a fixed time. You need council permission to develop, which can take months if not years, then if they grant permission (at your expense), you lose your land if the market conditions that prevailed when you applied no longer exist. Not only did Miliband not think what impact this would have on new applications, he didn't think it was morally wrong to confiscate someone else's land. He didn't think that maybe the problem of housing supply in the UK is because the planning system effectively nationalises land development in the hands of local authorities.
Yet this is all economics, par for the course socialism. The entrenchment of the NHS and public sector school monopolies are to be expected, as is renewed growth of the welfare state.
Newspapers that oppose the Labour Party are bad
It's Miliband's views on free speech that chill me. He embraced the findings of the Leveson inquiry and will seek to institute statutory press regulation if industry self regulation does not work. Given how often he has rallied against Rupert Murdoch (who to Labour, made the sin of once supporting it, then turning its back on it), there is every chance Miliband will require newspapers to be licenced. The mere fact that Labour friendly newspapers, like the Mirror, also engaged in phone hacking and other illegal practices is not acknowledged. Labour wants to "take on" the "vested interests" of newspapers that disagree with it.
|Under Labour men and women are "equal" but separate in Islam|
Moreover, Miliband's willingness to appease Islamists is more chilling too. It's not the image of a Labour Party campaign meeting in Birmingham above, which segregates men and women of Islamic faith so much, but his commitment to outlaw "Islamophobia".
There is no such thing as Islamophobia, of course. There are people who dislike Islam and will continue to dislike it no matter what fatuous legislation is enacted by the forthcoming Labour/SNP coalition from hell. And they dislike it for perfectly good, rational, reasons.
Islamophobia? That seems to me an entirely rational response to an illiberal, vindictive and frankly fascistic creed. I am not a Muslimophobe — I am well aware that enormous numbers of Muslims do not subscribe to all of the particularly unpleasant tenets of Islam as it is practised and preached today.
So it is, but Ed Miliband, as he seeks to woo intolerant Muslim voters, has decided to erode a bit more freedom of speech. Expect Police to treat this as a form of Islamic blasphemy law, all the time he blames the government for not passing tough enough legislation on surveillance of personal communications to fight terrorism.
I'm sure Ed believes he opposes Islamist terrorism, it's just that his appeasement of those who expound it, and opposition to those who criticise it, says something else.
Bye bye Scotland
It goes further of course. Polling indicates that Labour is likely to lose between half and all of its seats in Scotland, primarily because when the 45% who voted for Scottish independence cast their votes for one party in a first past the post general election, it's enough to sweep aside those who believe in the union, since they are split between four parties.
What this means is that it is almost certain that for Labour to form a government, it will rely on support from the SNP (despite Ed Miliband's protestations). What does this really mean?
Let's be clear, despite the claims of the SNP, its primary interest is in getting a majority of Scots to vote for it at the Scottish elections, get another referendum and to win it. It wants independence.
To achieve independence it needs there to be Scottish disenchantment with the Westminster government, not a comfortable arrangement that delivers what it promises. Its ideal outcome is a Conservative led government, for then it can shout on the sidelines, finger point and say "look, we never voted for the Tories, we must get ooot". However, what if it, and Labour can form a "progressive coalition", which is what its Marxist leader Nicola Salmond claims?
The SNP says it will push Labour to the left and wont agree on any legislation or budgets that don't meet its demands. Either Labour will surrender to it, and face disenchantment from voters from elsewhere in the UK that they are subsidising Scotland (more), or Labour will say no, and call the SNP's bluff and say "go on, bring us down and risk a Tory government". For the SNP, either works.
If Labour gives it what it wants, involving much more money being transferred north of the border, the (mostly) English disenchantment will make it easier for another Scottish independence referendum to be held, because English voters will express a similar antipathy towards Scotland as the SNP has promoted against England. Much better to get both sides to resent each other. However, Labour may hope that it gets credit for supporting Scotland.
If Labour calls its bluff, the SNP will revert to the "Red Tories" line and say that Scotland doesn't get what it wants from the Union. It can abstain from supporting a Labour budget or indeed a Conservative confidence and supply motion, and claim the moral highground, although it is undoubtedly the risker line to take. Labour wouldn't mind this of course.
What it all means, is that any Labour option lies within it the seeds to break up the United Kingdom. Yes, that might seem like lancing a socialist boil, but it is my ancestral homeland and also the land which brought us Adam Smith, David Hume and Francis Hutcheson, as part of the Scottish Enlightenment. Did the descendants of all of that really all emigrate? I don't want the union to break up, and I don't want the Labour Party to facilitate it. Labour did create Scottish devolution, after all.
Hold your nose
There is a lot to loathe about the Cameron government, but a Miliband one will not only steal from the productive and kneecap the most promising reform in education since the war, but will further limit freedom of speech, and will further erode property rights.
If you're in a safe seat everywhere but Scotland (which has no such seats anymore), you can do whatever you wish, it wont matter. That's roughly two thirds of all seats that wont change sides. Beyond that, if you think you'd rather not sit by and let a government emerge from the election muddle without ticking a box, here are some ideas.
1. Positively vote for a few Tories. Steve Davis, Kwasi Kwarteng and David Davis positively deserve your vote, they are positive, proven friends of liberty.
2. Positively vote the one libertarian UKIPper likely to win. Douglas Carswell.
3. In Conservative/Labour or Liberal Democrat marginals, consider voting Conservative, except in Hampstead and Kilburn, where Lib Dem Maajid Nawaz will be a formidable battler against Islamism.
4. In Labour/Liberal Democrat marginals, consider voting Liberal Democrat except Bradford East (to oust the vile David Ward).
5. In Labour/UKIP marginals, vote UKIP.
6. In Scotland, vote Conservative, to hell with the two cheeks of the arse of socialism and nationalist socialism.
7. In Bradford West, vote Labour to oust George Galloway.
8. In Ulster, vote Conservative or the Alliance. To hell with the sectarianism.
9. In Wales, it doesn't matter.
10. Have a long bath, consider your strategy to protect your investments and assets and watch the circus.
What's going to happen?
You're going to pay more, you're going to get more of your life regulated, and a lot of people are going to lose their jobs (and a bunch of others will be eager to do stuff to affect your life).
It's grim and depressing, but it truly is the case that David Cameron is better than Ed Miliband, because of what he wont do.