August 13, 2010

AFTER GORDO'S SECOND WAY BACKSLIDING...:

The unlikely revolutionary: David Cameron’s Britain has embarked on the toughest fiscal tightening and most drastic decentralisation of any big, rich country. The stakes are high. So are the risks (The Economist, Aug 12th 2010)

ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE’S chronicles of the Anglo-Saxon world did not stop with America. On a tour of Britain, he was taken with its liberal vigour, decentralised government and “spirit of association”. It came as a relief from the stultifying uniformity that he knew at home in France.

Under Gordon Brown Britain arguably became Europe’s truly Napoleonic state, the real home of dirigisme. More of its public spending now comes from central government than in any OECD country bar New Zealand. Its local government is weaker than nearly any comparable country, including France. The state finances and provides most health care. It bossily decrees where schools can be opened, and how they must be run. Then there is the sheer size of the beast: on OECD figures, public spending made up 51% of GDP in 2009, putting Britain into the same league as continental countries that deplore Anglo-Saxon laissez-faire.

It would have been understandable, if not forgivable, had David Cameron ducked a showdown with Leviathan. The Conservative prime minister failed to win May’s general election outright and governs precariously in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Yet as it approaches its 100th day, the government is turning out to be searingly ambitious in taming the state. It wants to cut public spending more steeply than almost anyone expected. And it intends to make sure that whatever state is left is more local, flexible and responsive to the people who pay for it.


...it was inevitable that whoever led the Tories would pick up the Thatcher/Blair baton.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2010 5:44 AM
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