Saturday, May 21, 2022
HomeStatesideWanted urgently: A leader who is good and true

Wanted urgently: A leader who is good and true

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THROUGHOUT this nation’s long history there have been many challenges and at times it looked as if we were staring at catastrophe. Sometimes the challenges came from foreign powers, be it Catholic Spain, Napoleonic France or the existential challenge from German National Socialism. We prevailed.

On other occasions it came from internal disruption or insurrection. The world as the average Englishman knew it briefly vanished with Cromwell but, fed up with levelling and an overweening threat to liberty, sanity prevailed and the King was restored after eleven tumultuous years. 

The revolutions that engulfed Europe in 1789, 1848, 1917 and almost in 1968 did not trouble these shores. Our institutions were strong enough to absorb some change and compromise, and to withstand pressures that overthrew order in much of Europe. We prevailed with a very high degree of liberty and prosperity relative to most of Europe.

Today, it is not just Britain but much of the West that unexpectedly faces an existential challenge again. Unexpectedly, because it is so needless so clear was our victory over Marxism just three decades ago and so overwhelming our technological, scientific, artistic and commercial lead. Ultimately liberty always defeats centralise, control and coerce.

Despite every advantage and the legacy of good, moral and stable institutions, in some ways the threat is more total and absolute than some of the previous challenges we have faced. This is simply because the revolutionary ideas being prosecuted cover such a wide spectrum of life, from the economic to the cultural, from the educational to the institutional, from the constitutional to even the personal and family sphere.

More, the spread of these revolutionary ideas comes not just from these shores but from much of the West. This revolution does not have great popular support outside a fairly small number of the public sector liberal left but it has immense power. 

It is not winning through the ballot box – there it more often loses than it wins – but by capturing our state institutions one by one, to the extent that right leaning people are almost entirely without representation in any of the key permanent organs of the state from the Civil Service to the BBC and media, from state schools to the judiciary, from academia to even the established church, or the tiny remnant that still stands.

Make no mistake, almost every value that was pervasive just two generations ago in this land has been overturned. When Blair gave his infamous speech in 1999 about reversing the forces of conservatism not even he could have foreseen how little resistance he would face as the primary representative of conservative values, the elected party of that name, went rouge and effectively stole the clothes of the left and in some cases even the far left. 

Unlike previous revolutions, however, where the winning side triumphantly storms the Winter Palace, this time the enemy is not obvious. It does not wear a badge or colours, rather it lurks and influences through obtuse law, quango, university, NGO, regulation, media story selection and permanent power with little scrutiny. 

It is because of this novel state of affairs that many remain only slightly aware that the world as we knew it is in grave danger of never returning. Those, and I have heard many friends argue this, who believe ‘there will be Mean Reversion’, ie this woke nonsense is a blip and sanity will prevail, unfortunately fail to realise that we have no leadership and very little current access to the levers of power. More, the forces of the left through international treaty, legal slate and institutional power have an immense inbuilt advantage with a constant ratchet to the regulatory and cultural leviathan. 

It is in this light that the many millions who believe this country is heading in a profoundly illiberal, statist and economically illiterate direction need to box clever. Despite the immense power of the critical permanent organs of the state and the legal/quango mesh they have created, underlying support for many of their measures is weak. 

People may keep their heads down, but few are excited by the woke, green and excessive regulatory state that is being built.  They go along with it because they feel they have no alternative, not because they like it. In very many cases they do not.

Capitalism floats virtually all boats. Yet instead the West is undoing all that provided not just the bedrock of our prosperity, but also the invisible hand of prosperity that has done so much for developing nations.

The craven appeasement of Western leadership and its associated lack of self-confidence, focusing on grievance, apology, technocracy and regulation over the tried and tested methods of liberty, small government and free and open debate – which was a beacon for the world to follow – are being tossed aside, deliberately so.

Frankly the West is facing a chronic crisis of leadership. Look at the so-called leadership A- list: Biden, Johnson, Macron, Scholz, von der Leyen, Morrison, Trudeau and Ardern. What a bunch! 

Not one has vision and certainly not one of them shows any sign of believing in individual liberty or the small state. Which of them shows any signs of trusting their electorates at all? Quite the contrary, they dive for the safety of their officials and advisers who propose lockdown, scare, regulation and tax.

These leaders are either signed up to the technocratic state or are too weak to do much about it. Our challenge is to find a man or woman who is good and true. One who understands the scale of the challenge and threat to our way of life – and has the strength to tackle the vested legal, bureaucratic and woke interests whom the rest of us so richly pay for. 

This is no easy gig. To reverse the growth of the vested interest regulatory and technocratic state will take very great determination and clear vision. From the evidence so far it would take rather more than a Sunak, Javid, Hunt, Truss or Tugendhat could muster. I may be proved wrong and hope I am, but these men and woman seem part of the club. If we are to regain any of our aged liberties that is no good. This is no longer about a small tack here or there but if our very liberty is to prevail in any form, free market economy, hard work, determination and major surgery is required to undo the economic, cultural and political damage of the last twenty or thirty years.

I struggle to see anyone among the current Cabinet who gets the challenge, let alone not compromised by failure or complicity. Our challenge is to find that potential leader and support and nurture whomsoever it is. 

Answers on a postcard please, because we need him or her now.

This first appeared in Brexit Watch on February 11, 2022, and is republished by kind permission.

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Ewen Stewart
Ewen Stewart
Ewen Stewart is a City economist who runs the consultancy Walbrook Economics. He is director of the think tank Global Britain and his work is widely published in economics and political journals.

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