The main problem with political debate is that the tribes are simply not interested in speaking to each other. The left think the right are only interested in the rich, and are basically self-interested. The right think the left are emotional children, assessing the motives behind policies (with cash inputs as a measurable proxy for morality) without being interested in the effects. Of course, most lefties fervently believe that the state can and should provide services and redistribute wealth, because they believe this will make the country happier and better to live in. The right believe that a smaller state, with a dynamic economy is a better way to achieve the same ends.
I suspect this represents a hankering amongst the politically interested for the ideological battles of the past. Tories want Cameron to be more aggressive, provoking a confrontation with the Unions, so that they can re fight the miners’ strike. That he isn’t picking fights with Europe, the Unions, and so forth leads to suspicions that he’s “not a real Conservative”. Labour for their part despised Blair for failing to reverse Thatcher’s legacy, deriding him as not “real” Labour for essentially the same reasons as some Tories despise Cameron. The two sides are simply not interested in talking to each other.
The fact remains, whatever the rhetoric, Labour presided over a massive (and to my mind) catastrophic growth in the state from 2000 to 2010, and only the most rabid anti-Cameron Tory would suggest that the coalition isn’t trying desperately to reverse that.
Frankly, I’m losing interest in debating with people on the Right who use the phrase “blue Labour” and with people on the left who mouth the same tired, tribal dogmas without even making the effort to engage with the ideas. In both cases, there is a refusal to look and be influenced by empirical evidence, with endless appeals to “common sense”. On the left this is used to support the idea that cuts are “too far, too fast”. On the right, it’s in favour of populist authoritarianism and tax-cuts.
What more does a “Real” Tory (which usually, in practice means a UKIP frother) want from Cameron? Free schools not enough, they want compulsory selection at 11-plus and a Grammar in every town. Standing up to Europe by vetoing a treaty isn’t enough, because there was a subsequent negotiation; they want withdrawal. Cutting the deficit as quickly as possible isn’t enough, they want a tax-cut too, and hang the consequences.
Labour have got what they want from the Leadership, a combative head-banger ranting economic lunacy as Shadow-Chancellor, and a Union stooge as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, and no interest in talking to the country. Unlike Labour, the Tories have people who ARE interested in talking to people other than the tribal base. The last thing we need is for a Conservative party to follow Labour’s lead by being interested only in talking to itself, for that is the real route to oblivion.
While ‘the cuts’ are happening, I’m content this is a Tory government, even if the rhetoric is more conciliatory than the base would like. The ‘state as proportion of GDP’ is all that matters. For my point, being in broad agreement with a Government is unbelievably debilitating for a blogger.