Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Post-Bureaucratic Dave


No pud for depressed Tyler

Dave wants big changes in "our very system of government:

"We're living with a 20th century model of government for a 21st century economy.

We've got decentralised, footloose, global companies.

We've got an informed, activist, grown-up population.

We've got amazing technology, enabling co-operation on a truly liberal basis - bottom-up and self-regulated. But we've got a government that tries to use that technology not to empower and liberate, but to control.

Big, cumbersome, centralised bureaucracies, trying to control a world that has moved on.

I believe that the days of big government are numbered
."

Well, hurrah for that.

It's just that...

Yesterday Tyler lunched with a senior libertarian. Well, you don't get senior libertarians per se, of course, but this Very Bright Man has been on the libertarian circuit for longer than Dave's been on the planet. Let's call him Mr Liberty.

Anyway, he was appalled to hear Mrs T and I had attended the Tory Party Conference. Why on earth did we think the Tories would change anything? Even in opposition their promises are minimal, and once in power they will go right along with Big Government just like all other Westminster politicos. And what's Dave actually saying anyway?

As luck would have it, the man himself reminded us yesterday:

"Don't tell me we can't do better. Well let me make it clear: a big change is on the way.

We will be a Government for the post-bureaucratic age - careful with public money, competent in public administration, conscious of the limitations of government."

As we buttered our lunchtime parsnips, Mr Liberty scoffed: "sounds exactly like Tony Blair in 1996; or Gordon Brown, come to that; it's just more Soviet managerialism- we'll somehow manage Leviathan better."

Tyler racked his brains to think of some specific non-managerialist policy commitment. "Ah, what about allowing parents to set up new schools? The Commissars wouldn't come up with that."

"Yes, but the Commissars keep hold of the money. The Tories may try to present it as the Swedish school choice system, but it's nothing like that. In Sweden the critical point is that they have school vouchers- the money goes with the pupil, and all parents can choose to spend it at any school, including private schools. The Tory scheme isn't anything like that."

Hmm. True. But you know, we have to start somewhere, and the Tories are really the only game in town.

Mr Liberty shook his head. "The Tories will be more of the same..."

"Ah! No! What about Inheritance Tax! When George stood up at Blackpool and announced the £1m threshold, they finally showed us some beef. And look how sensationally it transformed the landscape! Say what you like about Dave, but he ain't dumb: he will have seen how popular a specific bankable smaller government policy turned out to be, and he must be working on more of the same."

Liberty smiled gently and stared at Tyler in disbelief. "Do you honestly think he'll do that? He only did it in Blackpool as a last desperate throw to stop Brown's election blitzkreig. Now Brown is holed up in Stalingrad, ten points behind in the polls and facing a criminal investigation, there's no way Dave will give us any more. He doesn't need to."

We skipped pud.

Tyler was too depressed.

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