Just been listening to George Osborne’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference.
Oh dear. Oh, fucking dear. We’re fucked. Totally and utterly screwed.
The human part of his brain does seem to have some idea of how big a hole we’re in. Sadly, the politician part - the dominant part - does not. So, he’s going to protect the NHS and medical research and high-speed lines (I kid you not!).
And next week it will be the Army and then education - he’s already pretty much ruled out any serious welfare reform. And the week after that: everything else.
The rule with cuts is: no exceptions.
There was a brief period when I was prepared to believe that the Coalition might just have the balls do what was necessary. OK, it’s not quite over yet but I am not optimistic.
A week ago it all seemed so simple: we (or rather Brian) had a grand theory of Conservative Party ungovernability worked out. All we had to do was to watch while the Conservative Party put this grand theory into practice and then podcast about it on the Monday.
Well, that was the plan. All I can say is that a week really is a long time in politics and no plan survives contact with the Enemy Class.
So, our podcast was a bit of a ramble, starting with the Tories and ending up with Shakespeare via junior flunkeys fourth grade and Jim Callaghan.
At one point Brian mentions the growth of the state over the course of the 20th Century. This encouraged me to dig out this graph from here (warning: PDF) which illustrates the point.
Tax as a proportion of GDP
Oh, and to illustrate another point, here’s Theo Spark’s take.
Oddly enough, Peter Briffa’s been getting back onto the podcasting bandwagon too, saying more or less the same thing. I am sure it’s spite.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. There’s a bit of swearing. On our podcast, not Peter’s who is far too prim and proper to stoop to that kind of thing.
Update Michael Jennings has just rung me up to point out that the podcast seems to end very abruptly and whether it is supposed to or not. To which the reply is that, yes, it does end abruptly and, yes, it is supposed to. We had actually run out of things to say. We had half an idea to come back to it but never did and then I cut out some of our deliberations at the end. This is one of those things we will get better at over time.
According to the papers and what I’ve read, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party wants to keep the NHS. This has led to some pretty negative comment from, amongst others, Stephen Pollard, David Green, Melanie Phillips and Samizdata. Their view (with which I agree) is that healthcare will never get any better so long as the state runs the show.
In other words, it’s poor economics. But, I believe it also makes poor politics.
Why? Because, I think the penny is beginning to drop with the British public about the NHS. For the whole period of the Thatcher/Major government they were prepared to accept that the NHS’s failings were all down to something called “underfunding” which in turn was down to something called “those bastard Tories”. However, for the last nine years we have had a government that is not only committed to the NHS but has had oodles of money to spend on it. If there was ever a time when the NHS’s problems were going to be solved it was now. But, they haven’t been solved and everyone knows it. I get the sense from the people I talk to - and, yes, it is pretty unscientific - that the public are beginning to give up on the NHS. Not its principles - people still like the idea of free-at-the-point-of-use and everyone being equal. But they are beginning to despair of those ideas ever being combined with something remotely resembing quality.
I believe by the time of the next general election, the public will be prepared to listen to a politician who is prepared to tell them the truth about the NHS: it is bad, it is bad because it is run by the state and the only way it is ever going to get any better is if the state gets out of the picture. So, by making his remarks now, Cameron has effectively boarded a political Titanic. Oh, it’ll look and feel good for a while but eventually it’s going to take him to the bottom.
David Cameron smokes. You may not have known that. I only knew it because it was buried away in a rather unimportant profile piece about him in The Times.
Personally, it doesn’t bother me that he smokes - that would, after all, be rather hypocritical - but it might bother some. Moreover, it might be made to bother some. The MSM could, for instance, mention Cameron’s name over footage of him taking a few surreptitious puffs. They could ask whether it would be appropriate for Britain to have a smoker as Prime Minister. They could pose questions like: “Aren’t you encouraging children to smoke, Mr Cameron?”
But they haven’t and I don’t think they will. Why? Because I think the MSM has decided it wants Cameron as Conservative leader. Not in the sense that they’ve been conspiring in smokeless rooms presided over by the MSM’s very own Doctor Evil. No, more that the MSM have identified Cameron as one of their own and have decided to give him an easy ride.
There’s a real battle on for the soul of the Conservative Party at the moment. Here’s Albion Blogger:
The conservative mission then is not to convert itself to the centre ground but to convert the centre ground to conservatism.
A refusal to try to be popular will actually make them popular.
on the Conservative Party
“Freedom is not a slogan. Freedom is not just a means to an end. Freedom is our essence. Freedom is our core. Let freedom reign.”
That was Liam Fox speaking at Politeia yesterday. But did he mean it? Well, he also said this:
“Despite the heroic work undertaken in the past 18 months by Michael Howard, we have done too little work in previous years establishing the Conservative brand - not just what we would do but why we would do it,”
Which is encouraging.
OK, so I am not an actual member of the Conservative Party but nothing ventured nothing gained (not that I am actually venturing anything except opinions). But anyway, if I were in the ring this would be my pitch:
“Fellow Conservatives, we seem to be in a slightly funny mood at the moment. We have gone down to a third straight landslide defeat and yet because we picked up a few seats we seem strangely light-headed. Almost joyous. Just in case any of you are still feeling like that I would bring you back to reality: we lost and we lost badly. Again. This is a wholly unprecedented run of bad results for the Conservative Party.
So, what do we do about it? Modernise, radicalise, change our tone/look/tie widths? No. First of all, we work out why we lost. Then we work out what, if anything, we need to do about it.
The principal reason why we lost is because we do not come across well on television. We do not come across well because we are not allowed to. We are not allowed to because the broadcast media despises us.
They despise our values. They despise free enterprise, they despise tradition and they despise personal responsibility and the idea of free will.
So, what do we do about it? Well, we could say all the things they want to hear. We too could go round blaming Bush, Thatcher, profit underfunding, McDonalds, the banks, the oil companies, the drug companies, the chemical companies, food lobbies, gun lobbies, tobacco lobbies and SUVs in that lazy way so many do because it beats thinking.
But it wouldn’t be credible. We are Thatcher’s Children. We are the heirs to her belief in low taxes, low inflation and free enterprise. For many of us Margaret Thatcher is the very reason we joined the Conservative Party. And the electorate know that. Even if we all had a sudden Damascene conversion and became right, proper politically-correct drones, the electorate still wouldn’t believe us. We couldn’t change our spots even if we wanted to.
Incidentally, the reason Labour changed and I believe it was a genuine conversion was because their core beliefs were proved wrong. In contrast our beliefs are still standing. That is because they are right.
So, if we can’t change, then it has to be the media that changes. Either they have to be persuaded of the merits of our beliefs or they have to be bypassed entirely.
Change the media? Yes, I know, they look all-powerful and all conquering and up until very recently I wouldn’t have given us much hope. But things are starting to change. In the the United States the internet is starting to become a significant factor in national politics. This has been especially true since the rise of the so-called Blogosphere. And the internet is now starting to challenge the the mainstream media, or MSM. And about time too. For years, just as over here, the MSM has been drunk on its own power. Objectivity, accuracy and open-mindedness have been thrown out of the window to be replaced by sloppy, slanted and selective reporting inspired by a rigid liberal world view. They could get away with it because there was no competition. No one to point out their mistakes. But now there is. This was shown most dramatically in the Rathergate Affair. CBS produced an appallingly sloppy attempt to smear the President. Within hours the Blogosphere was pointing the many inaccuracies in the story. The fallout continues but up to now it has included the resignations of several senior CBS executives. And Bush, as you may recall, was re-elected.
This is still early days but I believe we will only see more of this. The MSM is losing power in the US. And if it can lose power in the US it can lose it here. And when it starts to it will lose a lot of that arrogance and with that will come some genuine reporting and with that a fair hearing for Conservatives.
So, to Conservatives out there I say this: change nothing. Stick to your guns, have faith in your beliefs. Things can only get better.”
“Justine Greening...Justine Greening...Have I heard that name before or am I just imagining it?” That was the question I found myself asking when then news came through that she had won Putney for the Conservatives on Election Night. The face seemed familiar but it did occur to me that that could just be because I wanted to believe that I had at some point bumped into the attractive blonde who has hardly been off the TV screens or out of the newspapers since.
Then I read the paper and saw that, like me, she had been at Southampton University in the late 1980s. Still didn’t ring any bells though. So, I did some Googling and got the shock of my life. Seems I had bumped into her before.
- Still doesn’t ring a bell. All the other people mentioned on that page I remember very well and in some cases rather wish I didn’t. But her? Not a sausage. I must be gay.
- I don’t remember a thing about the debate either although clearly Tim and I won. What can you say in defence of being poor?
- What sort of person posts up details of debates that took place almost 20 years ago that even the participants can’t remember much about. And why?
- Of all the people participating in the debate that day, including the chairman, she would have seemed the least likely to have become an MP. Indeed, I cannot recall her having any involvement in the Conservative Association at any time in the course of the next three years. And yet, to my knowledge, she is the only Southampton graduate currently sitting on the Conservative benches (or any other for that matter).
- There’s a lesson in there somewhere.