Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Worthwhile Manifesto

I have always considered George Walden to be a rather ridiculous psuedo intellectual who is not nearly as clever as he believes he is*. That said his analysis of what policies are desirable but politically unsayable absolutely hits the nail on the head.
  • An end to the worship of the NHS to the point where reforms can't be discussed rationally.
  • The cult of high house prices- since when in hyper inflation a good thing.
  • Strong local government.
  • A change in the culture of education ( I slightly disagree with his proposed solution but his assessment of the problem is correct.)
* For example he wrote a book blaming all America's ills, including propensity to go to war, on their puritan inheritance- despite the fact that the puritan parts of America (New England etc) have been by far the most pacifist regions.

Update: I've added the missing link now.


Matthew said...

Is there a link?

I've come around to the view that strong local government is one of those things that sounds nice on paper but would end up an absolute nightmare, with an untalented but enthusiastic bunch of mini-Hitlers running around trying to ruin your life. To the extent there is a political class I like it to be as far away as possible, which presently means in Brussels.

wonderfulforhisage said...

Is there a link?

HT Matthew

I agee with your other point too Matthew. Our Parish Council dogooders seem to concern themselves mainly with stopping people doing things.

TDK said...

I believe this is the article.

Ross said...

I've added the link now.

Regarding local government, the theory is that if it mattered more then different people would stand or election than who currently do.

Ross said...

Thanks TDK.

TDK said...

Ross is surely correct about local government. It's worth recalling that even fairly recently it had a lot more power than it does today. Think of the power they had to build council houses after the war.

And as for creating little Hitler's, what on earth does Matthew use to describe the petty bureaucrats that proliferate nowadays promoting various edicts. The state's reach has grown dramatically over my lifetime and the idea that just because the political seat is in Brussels doesn't mean there is no impact locally. eg. Do you recycle?

As for Walden, he says

A generation not exactly inured to hardship has little, I suspect, in the way of appetite for change with pain; the politicos know it, and are afraid of alienating them further.

That hardly sits well with the cross party consensus on actions for AGW mitigation. All the proposals imply a great deal of pain and are already being felt in electricity prices. I guess that's an elephant in the room.

Matthew said...

TDK, well yes they exist at all levels. But at least there seems to be some effort at reaching a reasonably sensible policy. At the local level it comes down to who can be bothered to shout the most. A good example is a resident's association we have here in NW London, whose 'leader' only has one word in her vocabulary, "no". So no exensions, no parking on front gardens, no playing in the street, no new buildings, no late opening hours for business and so on. Give her legislative powers? No.

TDK said...

I don't know the particulars of your resident's association but I guess it is an interest group created with certain aims. Anyone who opposes those aims is excluded voluntarily or not. Interest groups often adopt names that imply they represent larger groups of people than they actually do. Thus the MAB claims to represent all Muslims whereas surveys consistently tell us that most Muslims do not regard the MAB as truly representative of their opinion. In the same way I wouldn't be surprised to learn that your resident's association was unrepresentative of the residents.

Now unfortunately we live in an age where pressure groups dominate politics. This is partly because there is a failure to check the bona fides of such groups - we deem certain interest groups to be "good" without delving too deeply. A resident's association that opposed a gypsy site would be rejected just as easily. It is also because mainstream politics has become so anodyne that pressure groups have come to be seen as more representative of the true will of the people. As an example, Milliband asking for a Suffragette type movement to force the politicians to enact AGW mitigation. This is the politician seeking legitimacy in the pressure group.

It strikes me that your local leader probably gains traction via the same mechanism. This is not a problem of democracy per se.

The benefit of democracy is not that you can elect the best people but that you can get rid of the worst.