"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Death of Classical Liberalism

From the latest speech by David Cameron, head of the UK's "Conservative" Party:

"It's been a great week.

This week we've shown we are back in the centre ground of British politics.

A stable economy.

Fighting crime.

Backing the NHS and our state schools.

Childcare and flexible working.

Improving our environment and quality of life.

Those are people's priorities - those are our priorities today.



Conservatives, converting a disused church into a community centre.

That's our idea - social responsibility - in action.


For us, that Britain is based on the idea of social responsibility.

That means a Britain where instead of always turning to the state for the answers…

…we turn to each other and ask: what more can we do together to solve this problem?




Right, let's talk about tax.

Everyone in this hall, me included, knows that a low tax economy is a strong economy.

But some people want me to flash up some pie in the sky tax cuts to show what we stand for.

Let me tell you straight.

That is not substance.

And that is not what we stand for.

Do you know what I think?

I think that when some people talk about substance, what they mean is they want the old policies back.

Well they're not coming back.

We're not going back.


As George Osborne said in that brilliant speech yesterday…

…we believe in sound money and stability always comes first.



We need to strengthen our pensions system.

Deregulate our employers and wealth-creators.

Invest in education, skills, the potential of our people.

Build a modern transport system.

And we need to do more to promote British trade and investment.

In this age of globalisation and fierce international competition from India, China, Brazil…

…we cannot afford to sit back.

We have to fly the flag for British business.




As our economy grows, one of the most important calls on the proceeds of that growth is the NHS.

The NHS is vitally important to every family in this country.

It certainly is to my family.

I believe that the creation of the NHS is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century.

It is founded on the noble but simple ideal that no person should ever have to worry about their healthcare.

But it's about more than that.

The NHS is an expression of our values as a nation.

It is a symbol of collective will, of social solidarity.

That is why the British people, of all political parties and of none, are so proud of it, and so attached to it.


I have always believed this."



There were a few paragraphs about terrorism and foreign policy later in the speech, which you can read here if you have the stomach for it.

And as highlighted in the italics mine passage above, social responsibility not of the individual, but in communitarianism. From what I gather from this speech (these are the Tories, mind you, not Labour or the Lib Dems) is that the individual, in the birthplace of classical liberalism, the UK, has simply ceased to exist.

There's some mush about lower tax rates (although pointedly NOT Thatcherism!), a call to patriotism in the name of British business (in order for it to create more tax revenue), but most of all a pledge of ideological fealty to universal health care, not even as a right, but as an ethos, today's overarching value in the United Kingdom.


Turning empty churches into community centers? Health care as one of the highest achievements of Western Civilization? Flexible working hours? Mass transit? We fought the Nazis for this?

8 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

I had heard things had gotten bad with the Tories. I had no idea it had gotten that bad.

Where did you go, Mrs. Thatcher-o?

An ungrateful nation averts its eyes from you.

Pascal Fervor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pascal Fervor said...

I believe that the creation of the NHS is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century.

It is founded on the noble but simple ideal that no person should ever have to worry about their healthcare.

But it's about more than that.

The NHS is an expression of our values as a nation.



N.I.C.E. nyyyyyyyssssse

(I am hoping that is not too esoteric for this crowd. I had a far less subtle and more grotesque image loom out from the same novel that was strikingly more "capital.")

KennyD.Lloyd said...

Things have not so much gotten bad for the Tories, more that things just havn't changed. There is not so much a Conservative party in Britain anymore in the old sense and neither is there an 'old' Labour, just a blur in the middle where few can tell the difference. Liberal is now both more to the left and right, depending on the issue, than the traditional left and right.
David Cameron tries to sell himself so much like Tony Blair that he may as well be Tony Blair and so if there's no chance of change then why change?
Cameron offers nothing that say's 'yeah, I'll have a slice of that' because all he is offering is already there and yet there is so much he could stand up and shout for if he only listened to what the people wanted instead of telling them what he thinks they want to hear.
Cameron and the Conservatives seem to be relying or hoping upon cylindrical habits of the floating voter. After ten or more years, not a bad tactic I guess but hardly dynamic and forward thinking.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Nice to see our friend from the UK Mr Lloyd back with us again. It's great to have our boots on the ground over there and some eyewitness testimony. You heard it here first: the Brits may have become irretrievably soft, but they are not stupid.


LA Times columnist Niall Ferguson, who is the paper's idea of a gentleman of the right and fast becoming my idea of a twit, quite approves of Cameron's "liberal conservatism."

No doubt.

HB properly notes the burial of Baroness Thatcher by her own, altho I still make it 50-50 she could still kick her current Tory successor's ass in a fair fight.

I suppose we should really blame Dubya, with that "compassionate conservative" nonsense. Everything's his fault, after all.

Devang said...

If the UK doesn't want Blair, we will gladly take him. I'm sure we can atleast arrange McCain Blair '08. Labour party official AND not weak on defense... the guy could win in a landslide! Seriously. Maybe there's polling on this which can convince Mr. Blair of the opportunity.

Alas, next I'm going to hear that Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear is the only conservative thing left on TV there.

Something is wrong with the UK.

S. T. Karnick said...

If the Tories would hit the crime, bureaucracy, immigration, and culture issues hard, they would have something that would both distinguish them from Labour and appeal strongly to voters of many different stripes. Unfortunately, as in the United States these issues are unpopular with the press, so the politicians seldom dare bring them up and almost never say anything worth hearing about them.

Hunter Baker said...

Theodore Dalrymple for P.M.!