The Culture Warrior

Responsibility, Nationhood, Tolerance, Enterprise

The Conservative Party will match the spending levels of Labour, George Osbourne has said. This may be good politics; it may even be good economics, in the short term - at least as far as public services are concerned. It's all a bit iffy though, and I'll explain why.

Firstly, I think an early election is increasingly unlikely. Brown's been playing it down recently, and though I'm sure he's enjoying keeping us blues on our feet, we know that he is a very cautious man. So cautious that it makes the word 'cautious' look radical. He broods on things for a long time - years, even decades. Is he really going to risk his crown? Can he trust these poll leads? Isn't it all just a honeymoon? For those reasons I think there'll be no early election - though we'll see.

If I'm right, spending commitments for the next three years are rather meaningless, as we wouldn't be looking at office until 2009, maybe 2010 (I reckon Brown's the type to go a full term). In which case that still leaves the issue of what we'd do in office (does anyone else hate the phrase 'in power'?) with regards to spending, because woosh! those three years will have gone by.

Secondly, and more importantly, we need to realise something. Conservatives favour limited government, enterprise, and property. These three values make us very suspicious of heavy taxation and heavier spending. We need to realise that we're playing a losing game if we're trying to match Labour spending commitments. It just doesn't wash. Labour are tax happy - they can always outbid us; they've no ideological reason not to.

What we should do is focus on efficiency and results. Being state-sceptic, conservatives are the natural people to cut back bureaucracy and balance the books. Now I have to say that I think bureaucracy is an easy scapegoat. That isn't to say I don't think it's a problem, of course I do. But I think the problems with the public services, particularly the NHS, are far deeper and more systematic than form-filling. It is to do with what is effectively a socialist system (we'll leave that for another time).

All that said, I think people will instinctively believe conservatives over social democrats when they promise to cut bureaucracy. It's in a conservative's blood, whereas it's completely out of character for a leftie. They love their little quangos, but conservatives - and the British people - have enormous common sense.

So I think if we're talking about public finance, we should focus on bureaucracy and quangos and all that jazz. First, it fits in with the conservative belief in lowering spending (and nobody believes us when we say that isn't what we want to do). Secondly it'd be broadly popular with the people. Thirdly, it won't hit public services, just their paper suppliers. Fourthly, the amount spent on quangos is so hideously huge (apparently five times the MOD budget or something stupid) that it could go some way to funding modest tax cuts in a first term.

Matching Labour's specific commitments might be clever tactics and right in the short term, but we can never match Labour's philosophy. The British people expect us to lower spending and cut taxes - if we don't, they won't think we stand for anything. We must combat the leftist rubbish that cutting taxes means demolishing hospitals and stealing textbooks - targetted spending cuts (quangos and bureaucracy) would be good in the short term. In the medium-to-long term, we've also got Laffernomics on our side...but we'll leave that for another day.

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Published by The Culture Warrior on 3 Sep 2007 at 14:13. 0 Comments

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    The Sixties saw the rise of the New Left - Cultural Marxists who knew that their economic theories were dead, but understood that they could still disrupt culture and society by covertly infecting its institutions. Sadly, they succeeded, and the result is the Permissive Britain we see today. Conservatives must wage a culture war to bring back the values of respect, duty, nationhood and prudence that, when coupled with enterprise and freedom, are the surest conditions of progress and stability.


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