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Religion, Property, and Family After the Battle: Don't Raise Taxes

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Blair Wins; Third Way Loses

by Christopher Chantrill
May 12, 2005 at 4:17 am


ON MAY 5, Tony Blair led the British Labour Party to an unprecedented third consecutive electoral victory in Britain. You would think it would be time for celebration. But the cartoonists gave him a black eye, and the newly elected Labour Party members of Parliament are blaming him for the loss of 47 seats. With a majority of 66 in the House of Commons, they want him to resign.

With 356 seats in the new Parliament Tony Blair’s Labour Party is still, behind Blair’s fading smile, a coalition of the loony left and the clients of the welfare state. It’s getting a challenge in its northern strongholds from the Liberal Democrats. With 62 seats, the Lib Dems moved left in the May 5 election.

Then there is the Conservative Party, with 197 seats, the place for reactionaries that can’t persuade themselves to capitulate to the progressive world and its cult of perpetual adolescence. The general consensus is that the Conservatives have brought themselves back to respectability from the humiliations of 1997 and 2001 when Labour piled up huge majorities.

But the fact is that a majority of Britain’s electors voted for the parties of the left. The Guardian’s Timothy Garton Ash knows who they are: “liberal-minded voter[s]... who believe in fairness, tolerance, decency and combining social justice with individual freedom.” Never mind about violent crime, the disappearance of the working-class husband, and the emergence of a new non-working class “on the social,” (i.e. welfare). Let’s vote for “decency.”

Some people on the right are actually relieved that the Conservatives did not win. Minette Marrin in The Sunday Times and Peter Oborne in The Spectator think that the time for a Conservative government is not yet ripe. They expect a rendezvous with reality for Labour some time in the next parliament, for the Labour Party has been rapidly increasing taxes, from about 37 percent of GDP back in 1997 to 42 percent right now and climbing. They have increased the public payroll by over 800,000 employees, with no increase in private sector jobs. After the economic renaissance of the Thatcher years, they have turned the clock back to feudal clientage, extending Britain’s miasma of means-tested benefits so that 40 percent of Britons now get a substantial part of their income from the state.

But will the British people ever get fed up enough to turn again to the Tories? Middle America is firmly attached to the Republican Party, but Middle Britain isn’t so sure about the Conservatives. There was never an Equal Rights Amendment in Britain to make political activists out of women like Phyllis Schlafly, never a Supreme Court to provoke a pro-life movement into being with Roe v. Wade, never a ban on school prayer to create a Christian Right. There are conservative foundations in Britain: the free market Institute for Economic Affairs, and now Civitas that advocates for a turn from the welfare state to civil society. But there is no talk radio, no Christian Right, and no Fox News.

There is plenty for the Brits to get riled up about: spiraling crime rates that exceed levels in the United States, the utter demolition of working class culture and its authentic old institutions, functional illiteracy in about a third of young Britons, out-of-control immigration, and a complete collapse of marriage in the lower classes. But nobody seems upset enough to do anything about it, except perhaps in London where the Conservatives achieved some surprising gains. London is a city where high tax rates and high crime rates are felt most acutely.

Perhaps then the only hope is that, as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke has written: “in the end, Labour governments run out of money.” When this one does, perhaps the British people will be receptive to an alternative; they might come to see that they could get more services if the government monopolies in education and health were broken up and privatized. But so many pundits are confidently predicting this turn that they are probably wrong.

One thing we can see clearly. The so-called “Third Way” politics begins and ends with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. No one can say that they didn’t try to lead their parties out of their left-wing ghettos. It took political brilliance of the first rank to take a McGovernized Democratic Party in 1992 and make it presentable to Middle America. It took equal brilliance to take Old Labour and get Middle Britain to fall in love with “New Labour” in 1997. But rank-and-file Democrats and Labourites hated it. They like their left-wing world, its utopian pieties and its rewarding government and non-profit sinecures. That is why the Labour Party is coming together this week to grease the skids for the best leader they ever had.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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