Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Why Jack of Kent Turned Left - Revisited

The Joanne Cash resignation story today made me astonished to realise how much I continue to care about the Conservative Party; how deep my tribal loyalty is still.

Pity they are simply so incorrect on so much.

This is the blogpost - almost a year ago - where I explained my move to the Left.

It stands up quite well.

And I wonder if I will ever become really an anti-Conservative, rather than an ex-Conservative.

I do not need to hate them; it is enough for me that they are wrong.


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ivan said...

I consider myself fundamentally economically liberal, even though I believe in all of the following:

(1) That there are market failures and systemic risks which, when significant, the state has to address by intervention
(2) that there is key infrastructure (eg transport, health, defence, security, justice, education, etc) that will be substantially underprovided unless the state makes provision for it
and (c) that there should be income redistribution on social grounds.

That means I stand a long way from Chicago and Vienna free market dogmatists, who tend to think that most state interventions are counter-productive. But I see myself as standing even further from Tony Benn.

So I wonder whether you have really become economically illiberal, or just moved from a dogmatic to a pragmatic economically liberal perspective. Which do you prefer - the British health service or the French one? In my view, much better the French type of health service, (largely)state funded but run by the private sector. If you agree with me, then I suspect you aren't economically illiberal.

I come from a "conservatives are the enemy" background. Since I am both socially and (pragmatically)economically liberal, and have discovered over the past 13 years that the Labour party is hardly more socially liberal than the Conservatives, I have realised that on average today the Conservatives have a closer match to my values than Gordon Brown's Labour. But since my sitting Conservative MP is herself about as socially liberal as Norman Tebbitt, nothing could make me vote for her. Not that, in Buckinghamshire, it matters.

LR said...

"I do not need to hate them; it is enough for me that they are wrong": I think this shows a deeply sad facet of politics (one which I fall into as well) the idea of 'I like some of their policies but I can't bring myself to vote for the'.

HDB said...

I saw a Conservative poster the other day that I'd have loved to deface. It showed a young black lady, possibly a single mum, with the slogan "I've never voted Conservative before... but we need to fix our broken society."

I couldn't decide how I wanted to rewrite the last part. Either "...because they still hate people like me" or "...and I won't unless they come up with some policies".

I don't think I can bring myself to vote for either of the major parties.

Bishop Brennan said...

Mmmmmm. This is the first time I've read your blog, and I like it.

But I think you're dead wrong on this issue.

Like you were, I am economically and socially liberal (and I mean liberal in the classical sense, not in the modern hand-wringing sense, where no-one is responsible for their actions).

It seems to me that the Conservative Party has become more socially liberal - on gay rights, for example - even though there are still elements who don't like gays, just as there are still corporatists.

They are still largely economically liberal - although they advocate a much larger role for the state than I would like, and many still seem wedded to nonsense like protecting BAe (but see Douglas Carswell for a different Tory view).

And economic liberalism was not the cause of the current economic crisis. Rather, it was a combination of:

- Loose money (caused by government failure)
- Soft touch banking regulation (ditto)
- Public spending, creating a structural deficit in a boom (ditto)

It's simple economics to see that some industries - banking, monopolies like water, etc - need regulation. I don't see why that is incompatible with economic liberalism, which would leave things to the market, except where there is market failure and the benefits of government intervention clearly outweigh the costs (which would mean less intervention than now, but not zero intervention).

So, who to vote for in the forthcoming election?

- Labour? Only if you're nuts.
- Lib-Dem? A vote for Labour-lite economically (see e.g. Vince Cable), though socially probably OK (against ID cards, etc.). They seem likely to support a minority Labour administration though. So it's really a vote for Labour.
- UKIP? Will split the anti-Brown vote, hence a vote for Brown...
- SNP - I would if I could, but I'm in England!

The fact is that the only alternative government is a Conservative one.

There's a lot not to like about the Tories. They have some authoritarian tendencies - though I don't think as much as the current lot. They don't recognise - or at least admit publicly - the economic and fiscal hole we're in. I don't think they'll have the balls to face down the public sector unions - the BMA, the teachers' unions, Bob Crowe and the RMT - so that public servants (of which I'm one BTW) serve the public rather than the other way round. And they won't offer us a referendum on the EU; or stop throwing money at nonsense like climate change (see Bishop Hill / Devil's Kitchen / etc. for the latest on the CACC nonsense).

But, as Jackart has put it, albeit rather scatalogically (Sp?), the Tories are 'the shit that stinks least'

So tell us, would you really rather have Brown, Balls et al. in government? Really?!