Phillip Blond argues that the Tories' conversion to free market liberalism has been a disaster for conservatism and for many of the party's core supporters.If I knock at the doors of these writers and say I'm collecting for children in need, then knock them over the head and steal their TV sets, when they came round they'd condemn people collecting for children in need.Instead of holding the middle ground, the state was deployed in favour of the owner and entrepreneur. The benefits of Conservative liberalisation in the late 1980s accrued mainly to the top. The middle class saw its rise in income partly offset by more debt, while the poor sank relatively lower. New Labour did little to reverse these trends. In short, Britain remains stuck with a contested, class-based capitalism that has done great damage to British life.As I have said before, free market economic policies often lead to things that a lot of conservatives don't like. You'll find plenty of Tory voters in the anti-Tesco campaigns which are gaining support around the country and, like everyone else, most conservatives are furious about the crisis that lightly regulated banks have created.
In the 1980s, as a result of argument beginning the previous decade, the Tories started to pay lip service to free market liberalism. That's all. In policy terms, they used Friedman's monetarist ideas to control inflation (with resultant high unemployment) and this made some people think that because Freidman was a free market liberal, then other Tory policies must also be such.
The idea that "free market liberalism" might consist of deploying the state "in favour of the owner and entrepreneur" is stunningly wrong. It would mean the opposite. The state's role would shrink, in part to make it less easy for owners and entrepreneurs to snuggle up in bed with it and less significant if this happened. Every year of Tory government saw an increase in the scope and spending of the state.
Everyone who has pointed out the utility of free market transactions, from Adam Smith onwards, has pointed out the tendency to corruption between government and businesses, and they have pointed out how this undermines the free market. The free market requires power to move to consumers.
About the only thing that Galbraith and Friedman agreed on, last century, was that businessmen and politicians abuse the term for their own advantage - and that businessmen abhor a free market, whatever they might say. Far better a cosy monopoly, the security of anti-competitive price-fixing or, best of all, a government to extract money from consumers by force, then hand it over to them for overpriced contracts.
Blond is not describing the consequences of liberalism, but of that old corruption that infects every government of every complexion.
The measure of whether or not people like Tesco is not whether they join an anti-Tesco campaign, but whether they shop there. Conservative and Labour, they all do. Steve is lamenting, it seems, the fact that a tiny minority of very affluent people (as anti-Tesco campaigners tend to be) can't stop the rest of us, including the working class and the less well off, shopping at Tesco. After all, the anti-Tesco campaigners shop at Waitrose.
The idea that light regulation was behind the banking crisis is... I'm groping for a polite way to describe it... it's the idea that it's understandable that the structural problems that became apparent could have been overlooked by a regulator. That's cool. More of the same would have fixed it.
This wasn't light regulation, it was ineffective, crony-based regulation. Regulators and bankers swapped jobs, set each others' salaries as non-execs, gave each other bonuses as they played musical chairs.
People who make these kinds of arguments make no attempt to define their terms, and seem oblivious to the possibility that, like the doorstep mugger, there might be a difference between what people say and what they do. They just throw terms like "free market" (and "neo-conservative") around as insults, without reference to whether or not they're talking about the free market (or neo-conservatism).