Saturday, 6 February 2010

The 2010 Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture

Fraser Nelson, now editor of the Spectator, gave the above lecture and a copy of his speech can be read here. I have to take issue with Fraser Nelson, who like most political journalists, appears to have his 'head stuck in the sand', whilst making some valid points.

As you can read, Fraser makes the point that the issues we face today - the politics of decline, wealth creation, taxation and big government - are issues that we thought Thatcher had long buried. The political 'ideas' of the 1970s are repeating themselves - that you can squeeze more out of the rich by increasing their marginal tax rate, that you can improve the health service by pouring more money into it. Unfortunately it is all too obvious that some of those demons are resurfacing, but this time they are wearing blue rosettes!

Fraser Nelson also highlights a failing of Gordon Brown (and unfortunately David Cameron) by repeating a phrase from Labour's 1997 manifesto: "The myth – that the solution to every problem is increased spending – has been comprehensively dispelled under the Conservatives.

Another valid observation Nelson makes is this: "State spending will this year reach 53 per cent of GDP. To put this in context, the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently said that his state spending is too high at 40 per cent of GDP, and disparages Mr Brown as someone who is “raising taxes all the time”. Things have come to a pretty pass when the Kremlin derides Britain for having an oversized state." Ouch!

The statement with which I take most issue with Fraser Nelson is the statement he makes that: "Yet, soon, he [David Cameron] will end up fighting a blood-and-guts battle for Britain’s solvency – and its future...." Britain's solvency is not the sole reason that David Cameron should be fighting a 'blood and guts battle' - it is for Britain's future. The country's economy is, obviously, important, but no Prime Minister of this country can do anything really about our economy when the EU is dictating how this is run - witness immigration laws, working-time directives and the forthcoming financial regulations which will constrain our financial sectors.

I have to return to a complaint I have made previously, on many occasions, and that is why do political journalists - even 'clever' ones like Fraser Nelson - skirt round the main problem that we have in Britain today, which is that no matter what our political leaders say, no matter what policies they devise, their hands are tied by our membership of the EU.

5 comments:

James Higham said...

The country's economy is, obviously, important, but no Prime Minister of this country can do anything really about our economy when the EU is dictating how this is run - witness immigration laws, working-time directives and the forthcoming financial regulations which will constrain our financial sectors.

The economy and the EU are one and the same issue.

Witterings From Witney said...

Quite agree James, but the point is that, to quote Michael Caine - Not a lot of people know that, hence my spelling it out!

Anastasia F-B said...

Hi, WW, I hope you don't mind a slightly off-blog comment. I was looking for material for a new piece I intend to write about Nelson's lecture, specifically in relation to the current leadership of the Conservative Party. Anyway, I like your style and have now added myself to your followers. You are more than welcome to check out my Ana the Imp blog. There are a couple of recent posts that you may find of interest. :-) Regards, Anastasia.

Anastasia F-B said...

Sorry, the link is http://anatheimp.blogspot.com

Witterings From Witney said...

Anastasia F-B,

Thank you for your kind words. Have had a look at your blog - obviously one well educated lass and I use the word in no derogatory manner - age has its privileges!

Methinks we may have to disagree on David Cameron. Having met him more than once, he is a charming man and as my MP has successfully intervened twice on my behalf in battles with authority.

It is however his policy on Europe that I cannot accept - sorry.