Care for a spot of Socialism ol' chap?

clegg-and-cameronDark clouds hang over Britain.

The dust is settling on the election result that delivered up a hung parliament, the UK’s first since the ‘70’s.  The previous two hung parliaments in the UK occurred in 1929 and 1974, and on both occasions the UK defaulted on debt obligations 2 years later.  In 1931 the UK was bailed out by the US government and in 1976 went cap in hand to the IMF…Greece-style.

Any takers for a UK default by 2012?

So after 5 days of political wrangling and pretzel-twisting David Cameron has achieved his dream of British premiership, but at what cost?  Well, there is the small matter that the Conservatives have had to suck up to the most left-wing of Britain’s big three, the big taxing, big spending, big welfare, big state, big everything Liberal Democrats.  In fact the only thing small about the Lib Dems is the number of seats they won (57 out of 650), which was actually less than they managed to scrape together in the 2005 election.

So, to clarify, Nick Clegg’s party did worse this time around in terms of parliamentary seats but is wielding more political power than ever before.  Put another way, the election result for the Lib Dems should be largely regarded as a failure given their hopes of gaining constituencies, and yet their leader finds himself Deputy PM and among the most powerful men and women in Britain.

Now that’s a legitimate political coup if there ever was one!

Will all this political power that fell into Clegg’s lap afford him a nicer seat in parliament closer to the real action, or will he still be packed away in the far left hand corner with all the other underdogs?  Time will tell, but strange and irrelevant as that question might sound, it is a symbolic question to be asked of the broader alliance.  How much say will the Lib Dems actually have?  One can only presume that with Clegg as Deputy PM and 5 Lib Dem cabinet posts there will quite a lot of say for the kingmakers.  Yes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (only the British could name their finance minister this) is a Tory, but the Tories were never going to concede that post.  More importantly though, how much ability is Chancellor Osborn going to have to push through a conservative economic agenda when the votes he requires to get his plans past the post are coming from a bunch of leftist Lib Dems?  Not much I suspect.

In fact as one pulls the lens back from all these political deals and no-deals a disturbing but not unsurprising picture emerges.  While the Tories – that is the Conservatives, that old party that is supposed to stand up for traditional values of prudence and austerity – appear to have wrestled power away from Labour, this is in reality just another victory for the remorseless socialisation of Britain.

Do you think Britons are really ready to forgo their cozy pensions and welfare privileges?  Of course not.  Do the people of Britain, and by that I mean the people at large, the majority, really want conservative government?  Don’t make me laugh.

Of course they don’t.  The shift back to genuine conservatism is hard and painful and requires actual hard work and genuine change.  No one really wants genuine change these days in modern social democracies.  They want apparent change, not real change.  They want a fresh face to look at (and let’s face it the Cameron-Clegg alliance is nothing if not fresh-faced), not fresh policies.  They want the kind of change they can feel warm and fuzzy about, not the change that actually costs them anything.  They want pseudo change, not actual change.  They want Obama change, not Thatcher change.

To modify Mr. Obama, they don’t want change they can believe in, they want change they don’t have to believe in because it’s so nebulous.  It’s a slogan, a feel-good sign, a mantra.  Like ‘Free Tibet’, or ‘Go Green’, nice to say, not so nice to actually do.

It’s so funny hearing politicians say things like, “the voters are telling us they want change”, or “we have a mandate for change because that’s what people are saying they want.”  What the people are really saying is they want comfort.  They want daddy government to take away the nasty recession.  They want all the hard stuff to go away.  They want nice speeches about what a great and excellent society they are part of, they want lower taxes but more government services, they want more taxes on those nasty banks and rules that forbid property prices to ever fall.  They want fresh-faced, silver-toughed soothers not wrinkly-faced, snarling reformers.  They want candy floss candidates, not iron ladies.

And the stats prove it.  Think about it, the most economically right wing party in Britain got 36% of the outright vote.  The rest of the bunch, Labour and Lib Dem and all the small local interest group parties from the Greens to the Irish, Welsh and Scottish special interest parties are all basically signed up and fully paid members of the big-spending welfare gravy train.

If you want to know where Britain’s heart lies, try the 64% who said yes to more spending, yes to more welfare, yes to taxing the rich more and the poor less, yes to stupidly low interest rates, and yes to all the modish nullities of the ‘service delivery’ state.

Even worse than this though is the capitulation of the modern Tories into a subsidiary of the Labour Party.  Once Blair had captured the heart of Britain, the Tories figured their only hope was to create Blair v2.0.  Enter Cameron, conservative but not really.  Fiscally prudent but not in the painful way.  Hot for all the soft progressive issues and yet somehow grounded in a modest sensible conservative worldview.  Somehow.

So basically the writing was on the wall long before the election.  It’s been on the wall for a long time.  It’s just now that instead of subtle, scribbled clues it’s being splayed across the face of Westminster in bold gangster graffiti.

Democracies always end up getting the governments they deserve.  For all the confusion and horse trading and back-scratching, this election has basically delivered up the government the people want – One that’s unable to tackle the really tough issues, unable to enforce a genuine economic reform agenda, and basically unable to steer HMS Doomed from its collision course with that rather large and immoveable iceberg called Reality.

It may have once been the case that when asked, “care for a spot of Socialism ol’ chap?” the average hard-working freedom-loving Brit could get up say, “no thank you.”

Nowadays, if you answer “no thank you”, the reply would be, “I’m sorry ol’ boy, I’m afraid ‘no thank you’ is no longer an option.”

3 Responses to “Care for a spot of Socialism ol’ chap?”

  1. stickman says:

    Very amusing freeman and I strongly agree with your depiction of the mollycoddling many voters typically expect when they cry out for “change”! Faces change, but the tune stays the same.

    Still… as is my want, I’d like to draw your attention back to resources. Mrs Thatcher might have been immortalised as the ‘Iron Lady’, but she was also incredibly lucky with the discovery of North Sea Oil. The austerity measures she enacted would have been dramatically more, well, austere had she (and her immediate followers) not been able to bankroll her public finances on oil revenues, particularly in the difficult early years of the 80s.

    A good article on this exact subject:

    All told, without oil revenues waiting to bail them out, it is going to be very tricky for the UK to bounce back from this one…

    As an interesting aside, the view of Sir Alastair Morton – the late chairman of the British National Oil Corporation – on Margaret Thatcher’s use of North Sea Oil:

    “She blew it on the dole.”

  2. freeman says:

    Classic fallback from a statist. “Budget was balanced because of some lucky windfall”. Funny how Labour never managed to balance the budget from all the banking profits and housing boom windfalls.

    Your comment also comes from someone who clearly doesn’t have an appreciation for what Britain was like in the 70’s and how Thatcher turned it around. Maybe a chat with some ‘elders’ who were actually there at the time would disabuse you of your fantasies.

    Thatcher and Reagan were not gods. They were good conservative leaders who saved two major economies from the dereliction of the 70’s. They were the best of a terrible bunch in a fundamentally faulty world monetary and economic order.

    Thatcher and Reagan ultimately never did enough when it came to reform for if they had we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today. What they did create however was an environment of real growth and economic dynamism. And as is always the case when economies soar due to greater levels of freedom and monetary austerity, they provided another platform for the statists to get in and spend it all away again.

    The real point of the article was that a Cameron-Clegg two-headed monster is about as economically conservative as Thatcher’s left small toe. Not exactly a recipe for righting Mud Island’s horrible decent into the fiscal abyss.

  3. stickman says:

    Why so sensitive, freeman? Did you actually even read my comment or are you still smarting from our previous debates?

    I’ve just congratulated you on a good article and then merely tried to suggest that the austerity measures of the 80s were less harsh than they might have been because of the lucky oil windfalls. Yes, Thatcher certainly went about balancing the budget, but she had the good fortune to be able to rely on oil revenues to help her do so. The point of me saying this is to reinforce your OWN argument about how much difficulty GB is in currently, so your knee-jerk (”statist!”) reaction is absolutely laughable.

    Oh, and I never made any claims about Labour balancing the budget because the exact point is that they absolutely didn’t. They treated oil revenues as their own public and current account hobby horse and now the chickens are coming home to roost… From the article I mentioned above:

    “In 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, the amount Britain owed, as a nation, was £88.6 billion. In the subsequent six years, taxes from the North Sea (which had been pretty much non-existent previously) generated an incredible £52.4 billion.
    This was no temporary windfall: last year, thanks to record oil prices, the Treasury had its largest ever haul from the North Sea, at £13 billion. This colossal sum equates to more than 3p on the basic rate of income tax – and it was thanks in great part to such revenue that Labour was able to sustain public spending in recent years without a drastic increase in interest rates or having to pass the extra costs on to consumers in the form of higher taxes.”