Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guess the policy

Your humble Devil would like to do a proper deconstruction of David Cameron's series of articles in The Grauniad yesterday but I do not, at present, have enough time. However, in general, I rather approve of what the man has said.

After all, as both Hannan and Carswell have pointed out, his proposals might have come directly from The Plan—a book that I wholeheartedly endorse as being practical, informative and a very good start towards a libertarian state.

Indeed, if Cameron promised specifically, and unequivocably, to adopt The Plan in his first year of government, I would vote Conservative (barring the presence of an LPUK candidate).

There are, however, some problems. Like Wat Tyler, I notice that there is no mention of the crucial relinquishing of fiscal control.
Well, it seems there are a couple of details still to sort out.

Like, how specifically is Mr C going to downsize government? He mentions some of things we've praised before, like school vouchers and elected sheriffs, and that's good. But he says nothing about some of the even thornier issues that would make a real difference in weakening the grip of the state.

For example, there's nothing on fiscal decentralisation - ie re-energising local government by making councils responsible for raising the bulk of their own money themselves, through local taxes on local electors.

And there's nothing about breaking up the massive top-down quangocracy that is the NHS. Where's that bold initiative on social health insurance, the system that removes funding power from the hands of ministers?

In fact, come to think of it, he says pretty well nothing about the driving principle of all modern power relationships, which as BOM readers will know, is follow the money. Reform without sorting the money is no reform at all.

Quite. If local governments have no fiscal control, then there seems little point in devolving power to them.

Plus, it must be pointed out that—admirable as Dave's position is—there is a bit, fat problem. Because this particular problem makes the vast majority of our laws: it is, in fact, the greatest power in this land. And its name is "the European Union".

And, unfortunately, Dave's position on that is rather far from clear, as this video shows (a tip of the horns to Trixy). Watch Dave try to wriggle as Andrew Marr points out the flaw in Dave's Lisbon Treaty promise...

Dave may not "let things rest" if it gets to that point whereat the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by all countries, but there really is not much that he can do—unless withdrawal is on the cards. If that's the case, then great.

But one suspects that Dave has absolutely no intention of withdrawing or, indeed, of changing our relationship with the EU by one iota. (And don't forget that the Lisbon Treaty has already been ratified by our Parliament.)

Which means, I'm afraid, that all of his exciting proposals are just so much hokum or, as EUReferendum puts it, just Elastoplast over the fundamental wounds to our Parliament.
We ourselves take the view that, in response to Mr Cameron's soaring rhetoric, people are entitled to be suspicious and, after ten years of Blair, even cynical. Any politician needs to recognise that, and should not be surprised if their rhetoric is treated with a certain amount of reserve.

Not least, when Mr Cameron tells us: "I believe the central objective of the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power ... from the EU to Britain ...", we need to be conscious of the fact that, in order to deliver on this – should it ever become a firm commitment rather than rhetoric – the government would have to abrogate the EU treaties and, effectively, leave the EU.

This would be a highly desirable outcome and it may be what Mr Cameron has in mind. The problem one has with this, however, it that nothing he has said previously has ever suggested that this is his aim, or that he has any intention seriously to engage with the EU with a view to securing a "massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power." In the context, we would assert that suspicion is an entirely sensible response.

Quite so; and it appears, from PoliticsHome's latest poll, that the cynicism is not confined to we EUnihilists...
From a nationwide poll of 1,178 adults on whether a Cameron as prime minister would be as radical as he is promising on devolution of power, it finds that an overwhelming majority of the public are sceptical, predicting that he would be more cautious in office. In figures, a full 70 percent think Cameron would be more cautious and only 23 percent think he would deliver.

Cameron needs to convince people of his resolve and sincerity—something that is bound to be somewhat tricky in the current climate. And this humble Devil has yet to be convinced of either.

I'd love to be pleasantly surprised but, for the moment, we libertarians and EUnihilists should keep up the pressure on Cameron, to convince him that there really is support for both EU withdrawal and a smaller, more libertarian state.


Tim W said...

I was at a speech other other day given by David Davis. He said lots of nice things about renegotiating our relationship with the EU - including that, should we not gain a far looser relationship, we should not be afraid to 'walk away'.

Sadly, he also said Hague was less sceptical, and Cameron still less so, so it seems his proposed hard negotiation will never materialise.

What a surprise.

Dick Puddlecote said...

The lack of movement from Dave regarding moving away from EU federalism is indeed irritating. He seems to lack the guts to mirror the views of the majority of his party. Great news for UKIP.

"barring the presence of an LPUK candidate".

Like these, for example.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Maybe Davey might change his mind a bit when UKIP do well in the Euro-elections. Probably just ignore it as a rebellion against the Labour government, but one hopes he might get the hint.

Mark M said...

I can see where he's coming from when he says there are a lot of 'ifs', but they are quite likely 'ifs' and a Conservative government coming to power with the Lisbon Treaty enforced is a hypothetical situation that could easily occur.

I don't know why he won't answer the question because he's going to have to during an election campaign should the treaty be ratified. Thank god for the Irish, I guess.

Lola said...

The more Dave speaks the more confused I am as to what he does actually believe and aim to carry out. What is needed is a complete and genuine reform a la The Plan. (Or I s'pose you could go for the nuclear option and reform a la Stalin, not Dave, obviously, but McBroon 2 might). I reckon he's not got the guts or the inclination.

Nick said...

For example, there's nothing on fiscal decentralisation - ie re-energising local government by making councils responsible for raising the bulk of their own money themselves, through local taxes on local electors.
That's because its a crap policy.

Why should I suffer the tax aspirations of a looney left council who decides to super tax anyone earning over 25K as a fat cat?

The solution is to give every council a per head allowance. The same per head allowance for everyone in the UK.

1. The poor get subsidised by the rich.

2. Councils can get more things done, if they get more value for money.

3. No one gets ripped off.

4. No Barnet formula.

5. Very simple.

For example, lets say 10% of UK taxes is allocated to local councils. They get 10% of the total tax raised. Period.

If tax receipts drop, they get less. If they go up, they get more.

No need for council tax. Whole swathes of government get removed, making it efficient.


Mark Wadsworth said...

I'm actually with Nick (see previous comment) on this one.

Rob said...

How many people actually pay council tax these days? Can a minority of taxpayers be fleeced for more and more services by those who receive the benefits but don't share the costs?

How accountable is the council to local electors? Despite my local council changing hands at least once in the past ten years, the roads are still full of potholes and the same waste goes on.

I agree with the principle that the more local power is, the more accountable it is. Unfortunately, local government would have to be massively reformed before we could get anywhere near that.

Anonymous said...

"a book that I wholeheartedly endorse as being practical, informative and a very good start towards a libertarian state"

It wants to rip up the HRA and the ECHR. It puts in its place a mechanism for the majority to avoid suffering tyranny at the hands of the state (for the power of the state will be restrained by local democratic power).

Fair enough. But what there's no protection for is unfashionable minorities suffering at the hands of a tyrannical majority. How are the rights of bankers, pistol shooters, violent computer gamers, extreme pornographers, drug users, S&Mers etc. to be protected from tyranny?

It's true that unfashionable minorities (e.g. smokers) are being stamped on right now. But the HRA does act as a brake in some cases (detention without trial for unpopular people, for example).

Ask yourself this: What would this foul lot get up to if the HRA didn't force restraint on them? And when the next foul lot get in to power (e.g. the odious Simon Heffer, who makes Captain Mainwaring look positively humble)?

The Plan rails about judicial activism when rights are codified. But I'd rather judges letting the odd wrong'un go unpunished if their activism also lifted the Government's boot from my neck.

Ian B said...

The big, fat problem David Cameron has is is his big, fat head.

ukipwebmaster said...

Breaking news! Servant's quarters funded by taxpayer:

cabalamat said...

Dave's position on [the EU] is rather far from clear.

The reason for this is actually quite simple. Dave doesn't much care whether Britain stays in the EU.

If Britain leaving the EU helps him become prime minister, he's for it.

If Britain staying in the EU helps him become prime minister, he's for it.

Do you notice a pattern there?

Anonymous said...

I read Cameron's speech,typical PR, all bullet points no narrative. I do not believe that he will go up against the EU, he has shown no signs up to now that he even understands the problem.
As to his localism, to do anything about this he has to stop the corrupt "cabinet system" put in
place by Prescott and forget local taxation. It currently takes over 11% of my income, a big hit for pensioners and the poorer parts of society. My council tax supports too many expensive councillors to say nothing of a useless, overpaid CEO. Meanwhile I am broke.

Budgie said...

Cameron has clearly said and repeated that the Conservatives will not leave the EU.

No renegotiation is possible with this stance. The EU would have to say 'No' to Dave, otherwise every country in the EU would be wanting a new deal.

However if Cameron pledged to leave the EU unless they accepted renegotiation then oddly enough the EU might be forced to agree because they would not want to lose the UK's dosh.

The moral of this is Cameron does not know how to negotiate; people instinctively know it and hence don't trust him. His policy is self defeating.

Verity said...

Cameron is an inept greedy egoist.

The thought of this individual leading a country with 1500 years of democracy as ballast is absurd.

He's so greedy for power that he adopted the protective colouration of the enemy and became the self-declared 'heir to Blair'.

Take him at his word.

Say 'no' to the Heirites.

James Higham said...

Your humble Devil would like to do a proper deconstruction of David Cameron's series of articles in The Grauniad yesterday but I do not, at present, have enough time. However, in general, I rather approve of what the man has said.

You should do it because you're the type of person who can do it thoroughly and then we can have something to link to on the matter.

The Hobbs End Martian said...

No need to fisk DCams' psychobabble - it immediately fails the sniff test, hmmm, I detect one half hundred weight of Bullshite.

Its the job of the Political Class to implement EU Policy, Common Purpose eh? , OECD Strategy eh? , the Barcelona Agreement eh? and all the other cryptomarxist crapola.

It'll take a frikkin civil war to change anything in this country, not gobshite from crooks and spivs.

Fuck 'em in the Arse and in the Eye, I say.

Fuck 'em all. Fuckers.

Anonymous said...

thought you'd be interested... it has direct email to the emailers too :D lovely lovely

Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear that he wants some veto powers back over key policy areas and also a proper working EU parliament with an actual opposition - which is why he is leaving the EPP.

unfortunately this also means that he accepts that we will continue to be ruled by Brussels and if it worls we will have the frightening prosepct of a working EU parliament that will be harder to criticise.

As ever with Cameron it is what he is "SEEN" to be doind rather than what he is doing that matters to him.