Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cameron in the Telegraph

Cameron's article in defence of the conservatism of the Conservative party he leads was a strong one. In particular, the section discussing Conservative policies should assuage the fears of those who worry there might be no significant difference between the two parties come election day. When you consider that the policy reviews have not even reported yet there is actually a fair amount of material. While they are not concrete policy plans they serve to illustrate the direction of the Conservative party going forward.

It appears to have panicked DK as his response is a bit disjointed:

"Businesses, parents, and local communities must be given more responsibility. I believe in social responsibility, not state control.

As I have asked before, what if people don't want it? Are you going to make them have it?"

Either DK is making an argument in favour of gilded cages or he is suggesting that Cameron is looking to force people to be Good Samaritans. The key is the comparison between social responsibility and state control; Cameron is discussing methods of avoiding the use of the heavy hand of the state.

"Instead of simply accepting the political consensus of the time, as Blair did, I am challenging it.

How? With your marvellous "hug a hoodie" campaign?"

Cameron doesn't run a "hug a hoodie" campaign. He argued, in a speech, that the problems of youth anti-social behaviour stemmed from social breakdown and that what these children lack is family love and support. This is a pretty conservative analysis.

"Why do we need a Bill Of Rights, exactly? In what way will it be different from the Human Rights Act, precisely?"

That Cameron is currently discussing broad principles and ideas rather than precise policy is a horse that has been dead for some time and I'm a little dissapointed it is still being beaten. Forming policy slowly is a mark of taking policy formation seriously and giving it time rather than rushing out plans which are not properly thought through. Now is the time to set out broad principles, as a member of the UKIP surely DK can see that there is a fundamental difference between defining rights in UK law and having them defined, and enforced, in Europe?

"It is why I have made the strongest commitment to supporting the family and marriage that any Conservative leader has made for a generation.

What commitment? You have part-published a report written by Duncan-Smith; I haven't heard any concrete policy deriving from that report yet."

The commitment was made during the leadership contest; that government should support marriage through the tax system. Why does a lack of detail make this commitment worthless?

"It is why we are pledged to share the proceeds of economic growth between public services and lower taxes, thereby ensuring that over time the state takes a smaller share of national wealth.

Lower taxes? When? How much? What taxes (since the number of taxes that he can cut is partly controlled by the EU)?

Share the proceeds of growth? How much growth does there have to be before we see tax cuts rather than more money pissed into the public services? What if there is "not enough growth"?

What about tax simplification?What about that Flat Tax that you were so keen on? What about raising the Personal Tax Allowance to a decent level in order to take the poorest out of the tax system? Where are your actual policies, Dave? Where are these clear answers?"

This is actually a pretty clear commitment that at the end of a Tory term the proportion of the economy being consumed by the state will be 0.X of whatever it is when the Tories take over. The state will shrink. While exactly how much (X) and how is not decided it probably shouldn't be. Deciding economic policy years before the event when the state of the public finances and the broader economy is not known would be economically risky and politically dangerous. Now is the time to state direction rather than how far we might be able to travel.

"When I see Cameron's detailed policy, then I might rethink."

Really? (Sorry, I'm just curious and there's at least some chance this post will get a response)

He then goes on to quote EU Referendum and the UKIP about how we can't leave the Social Chapter without the agreement of other members. This is a rather narrow way of looking at things. EU policy formation is a process of negotiation and if a priority of ours is no longer having to follow what was the Social Chapter then we may be able to secure agreement to that end. Particularly when the more integrationist states are accepting the idea that different nations may choose different levels of EU involvement (a multi-speed Europe).

"Our new Movement for European Reform is a pan-European campaign to promote a positive vision of an outward-looking Europe rather than an inward-looking EU obsessed with its own bureaucracy.

Yes, yes, yes; we have heard all of this before from assorted politicians; when will you learn that the EU is not reformable? Both Strange Stuff and EU Serf have discussed, at length and recently, why this should be."

I've rebutted the Serf's argument that it is impossible to reform the EU and I won't repeat myself now.

He then discusses the pledge to leave the EPP:

"The pledge is, in any case, a stupid one to make. If the EPP is unsuitable for Conservatives now, then they should withdraw now. It may, in two years' time, actually be the most suitable grouping for the Tories to be in (unlikely, but you get the picture); in which case, leaving in two years would be fucking stupid, wouldn't it?"

Forming a cross border political party takes time. In an ideal world it would be great to leave now but hurrying the process, making a mess of things and winding up forming a weaker alternative to the EPP than is possible if we take the time to get the new party right just leaves a weaker conservative voice in Europe.

"And Brown wants to keep the pound as our currency: what, precisely, are you offering, Davey-boy?"

Brown's position, in public at least, is that he wants to adopt the Euro when the economic conditions are right. "Davey-boy" does not want to adopt the Euro. Those two positions are rather different.

"But these Conservative intellectual foundations are just the start. We must now apply them to the hopes and aspirations of people and families today, just as Mrs Thatcher applied Conservative principles to the challenges of the 1980s.

How about just fucking off and letting the families apply these principles themselves, you evil, statist cunt?"

This is pretty hysterical. Cameron is arguing for applying the same, conservative, principles as Thatcher to modern problems. How on Earth is that statist?

"The reduction of Thatcherism into a sort of laissez-faire libertarianism does not do justice to her record. She was animated by a vision of the good society – a vision obscured by decades of economic dirigisme and cultural relativism. The task she set herself was to restore not only personal liberty in economic matters, but also a sense of duty, respect and moral obligation in social matters.

Yup. That's why most people talk about the 80s in the same breath as "rampant greed"."

That's actually the socialist caricature of Thatcherism and it is a shame that it has such a strong hold on the popular imagination. Striving to better the condition of yourself, your family and your community without state involvement is not selfish. That is what Thatcherism was trying to encourage.

"I, too, am animated by a vision of the good society.

Oh, god. Dave, what if my vision of a "good society" is not the same as your vision of a "good society", eh? Are you going to force me to accept your vision? I suspect that the answer is, "yes"."

Anyone with a political programme, including libertarians, has a vision of the good society. That good society may include the freedom to pursue your own vision of a good life.

I have some reservations over Conservative policy on a couple of issues, notably the NHS and the environment, but Cameron's leadership still offers the hope of a great conservative government.

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