Friday, 9 October 2009

The new political consensus

In David Cameron’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference, there was one bit that jumped out at me. Mr Cameron said:
And let's be clear: not everything Labour did was wrong. Devolution; the minimum wage; civil partnerships, these are good things that we will we keep.
Here, if nowhere else, we have consensus. Her Majesty’s loyal opposition is in complete agreement with the government, and the Liberal Democrats are right behind them. But this consensus is new. There was not much agreement about these things a generation ago. And, to be honest, I cannot get enthusiastic about any of the members of this new sacred trinity.

Let's start with civil partnerships. What's the point? If it is about inheritance tax, there is a much more obvious answer. Inheritance tax is a nasty tax, and should simply be abolished. If it is about the transfer of pension, insurance, and social security benefits, then one must begin by asking the question “Who should I be allowed to transfer these benefits to?” No one at all? Anyone I choose to designate? Anyone that lives in a house with me? My spouse, as in marriage traditionally understood? All of these answers have some merit. But civil partnerships, as we have them in Britain, cannot lawfully be entered into by two people who are closely related, which I find completely puzzling. So what is the point of civil partnerships? It is simply a sop to the LGBT community. In other words, it is simply about political correctness. Or, to put it another way, it is about politics.

The minimum wage? Well, I’m a member of a party that is completely opposed to it, and the LPUK manifesto gives a good summary of its drawbacks. But the basic reason is that employers cannot produce money from thin air: a minimum wage basically prices the least productive workers out of the market. But it sounds good. It sounds like it is caring and compassionate. In other words, it’s about politics again.

And devolution? Well, as Billy Connolly pointed out, “It is just another expensive layer of government.” But it is worse than that. The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have to justify their existence, and the way that parliamentarians justify their existence is passing more laws. The ostensible reason for devolution is that is supposed to make the people of Scotland and Wales feel that government is closer to them - though the actual result is that the Scots and Welsh can expect even more laws and regulations.

So the new political consensus is basically about the country becoming more regulated and more politicised. Which is why I’m not part of it.

1 comment:

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