Monday, April 23, 2007

David wants responsibility

Yes, yes, Cammy-babes; this is all very well but how, precisely, does one achieve it?
Conservative leader David Cameron is calling for a "revolution in responsibility" to counter a rising tide of anti-social behaviour.

He will use a speech in London to accuse Labour of encouraging irresponsibility by promoting individual rights ahead of civic duty.

Less state intervention will be part of his "manifesto" for a better society.

Well, I think that's just dandy, ain't it?
The Conservative leader will say measures like anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) have been counter-productive, because they allow people to abdicate responsibility for their actions.

Instead, Conservatives would encourage parents, neighbours, business people and teachers to take responsibility for bringing up children to behave properly and keeping their own communities in order.

A combination of less state interference, more support for families and trusting people more would create a "framework of incentives that encourages civility and pro-social behaviour", he will say.

This is more or less what Oliver Letwin was talking about when we saw him speak at the Bow Group. As it happens, I pretty much share Jackart's view of Letwin's speech.
Oliver Letwin talked at length about the a future Conservative administration providing an "Enabling state" rather than an activist state. Basically this means getting people to take responsibility for their lives and where necessary others'. The involvement of charity, even at the risk of religious evangelism, is to be encouraged. People, rather than the bureaucracy is to be the driver behind improvements. The professionals working in the public sector should be trusted to run things and not be endlessly striving to arbitrary targets set by Whitehall.

Unfortunately, I also wholeheartedly agree with The Nameless One's conclusion.
However a Conservative government would extend the Thatcherite aspiration to end poverty by enabling people to help each other.

And, to all intents and purposes, that was it. Because when it came to detailing exactly how the Conservative would increase social responsibility within this country, Letwin was found utterly wanting.

Whilst one may think that all of this is entirely laudable, there are a number of severe problems. The first (and simplest to deal with) is that between 50% and 80% of all of our laws originate with an unelected bureaucracy whose philosophical views are not the same as those that Cameron's stating. The EU has no interest in giving people responsibility and has absolutely no intention of relinquishing any of its power, locally or supranationally. This wouldn't, of course, be a problem if the Conservatives had the balls to take us out of the EU but, for reasons that even they cannot explain, this is not the case.

The second issue is that politicians do not like to let power go easily either (well, not to the electorate; they seem to be more than happy to cede it to the EU); further, they are constantly being badgered by interested parties. If the Tories really were to led the reins go in this way, whenever there was a clamour for some special action on an issue, they would be unable to do anything about it.

Because, you see, politicians are involved in politics; and it is all very well saying that charities, etc. should become involved in the society, but the problem is that these organisations will simply become more politicised, not less.

As the Tories try to rely more on local charities, they will start to divert funds to those charities; gradually, the charities start to become more reliant on government funds. The government, under pressure to get results, starts to dictate terms and policy to the charity. And suddenly, it is no longer that nice, responsive organisation that used to be so flexible; it is yet another department of the state.

No, I'm sorry, Messrs Letwin and Cameron: you are going to have to explain how all of this works, or else I will never be convinced.

1 comment:

Lizzie said...

I was at the RSA speech today and he was good, if not deep speaker, claiming that the Tories would give all the tax money back to ocal authorities so that they could decide how to spend it rather than have centralised spending, and then he wanked on about families and parents and marriage being the best way of creating well behaved people. He made some good points about stopping the knee-jerk legislation Labour have going on, and talked about removing the worry for teachers and doctors about abuse and being accused of paedophilia by using common sense and basically letting the schools run themselves without fear of being wrongly prosecuted.

All in all, reasonably inspiring, would be nice to see some actual policies.