Is it time to just give up advocating for conservative governance now? This is what I thought when reading this blog by Ryan Bourne at CapX.
Bourne tells us that the idea we live in a world dominated by ‘neoliberalism’ is laughable. “In terms of spending, government is as big as it ever was. Adjusting to government spending as a proportion of GDP at factor cost (to allow accurate long-term comparisons given changed tax regimes) shows it increased from around 10 per cent of GDP at the beginning of the 20th century to 47 per cent in 2014. Despite claims we live in a neoliberal age, this was higher than in any year between 1947 and 1979 – the supposed big-government post-war consensus.”
In addition, “expenditure on welfare, health and education makes up 63.5 per cent of overall state expenditure – or 29 per cent of national income.”
Finally, “Indeed, far from slashing the welfare state, the coalition government actually expanded it with more state funding for pensions, childcare and the provision of ‘free’ school meals. Spending on health, education and social protection rose in the last Parliament. It was the traditional ‘liberal’ functions of the state – defence, policing, local government – that took the hit.”
This sums up how depressing the current situation is.
It is no coincidence that it also comes in the same week that this so-called Conservative government succeeded in passing one policy while spectacularly failed to pass another.
The policy that succeeded was of course a ‘progressive’ one. It adds yet more red tape to business and aims to solve a problem that does not exist – the so-called ‘pay gap.’ This useless yet burdensome regulation will force any company with over 250 employees to publish the difference in wages and bonus payments between men and women in an attempt crush this so-called gap. It is nonsense as explained here.
The measure that failed to pass was reform of the tax credit system, which currently costs the State a cool £30 billion a year. That was the fault House of Lords you say – but it wasn’t.
It is was the fault of the Tories who did not specify in their manifesto where the welfare cuts would fall. If it had been in the manifesto it would have been extremely difficult for the Lords to vote it down.
The Tories did not defend basic conservative principles that government programmes and welfare are distinct from earned income. At the election they never tackled the entitlement culture – they just banged on about One Nation Conservatism, which is meaningless.
This humiliation culminated in socialist Jeremy Corbyn running rings around Cameron at PMQs as Cameron was unable and unwilling to defend the fact that if the welfare state is to be cut back some people will indeed be worse off. But Cameron wants to be liked and pitched his tent in the middle of the road – so he was run down by the traffic on both sides.
This Tory administration and the Tory-led Coalition before it has been a disaster for conservatism and Britain. It is a disaster because Cameron and his sycophantic and self-righteous supporters are pulling the whole electorate left. This is will make it virtually impossible to sell conservative policies in the future.
This is Cameron’s legacy – hammering the final nail in the coffin of conservatism. No doubt he is pleased.