I was always taught that any government had three priorities:
1. Defence of the realm (invasion-proof, capable of resisting aggressors, defeating terrorists, pursuing foreign policy when force is necessary)
2. Keeping the economy sound (economic growth and sound currency)
3. Safeguarding the liberties of the British people (to be free and go about their lawful business without fear of hinderance or persecution by the state)
So, how did the last Labour regime do and how are the Coalition doing?
1. Defence of the realm. Both have run down our armed forces to the extent that we have to have French aircraft on our aircraft carrier, soldiers have been given redundancy notices while in the theatre of war and the rules of engagement threaten the lives of our military personnel. Kill an enemy and there is an enquiry as Private Clegg found out in Ireland some time back when his life was made a misery for shooting someone who would not stop at a road block. People in the military tell me it has got worse since then. The Coalition promised to deport foreign terrorists or lock the home-grown ones away but they haven’t. At the same time, our borders are porous. The Home Office estimates there are 200,000 illegal immigrants from Somali alone living here-that is four times the population of the market town I live in.
2. Keeping the economy sound. Labour raided private pensions, sold off our gold reserves at knockdown prices and was instrumental in ruining a perfectly good bank during the sub-prime crisis. The Coalition talk tough but borrowing is still rising. It seems the plan is to issue lots of worthless money (quantative easing) thus causing inflation thus eroding the real value of the debt. Meanwhile, they persist in squandering money on foreign aid to countries like India (who don’t want it) and various despots who use it to cling to power or in funding adverts for health advice, taxation or whatever despite promising they would stop doing that. There was a coherent plan to bring in a Single Benefit for Social Security but that is not due until next year, over-management in the NHS has not been addressed, Higher Education is in the process of being ruined and public pensions are being raided to bring them into line with Brown’s pauperisation of the private ones.
3. Labour wanted to bring in an all-encompassing monitoring of electronic communications which the Tories resisted while in opposition. Now the Coaltion want to bring it in themselves. The Coalition are making police officers redundant by the thousands but insist this will have no effect on policing. We still can’t deport foreign criminals because of some specious Human Rights Act which the Coalition promised to rewrite but didn’t. Young men, often but not exclusively black and living in London, seem to make a habit of stabbing each other but the existing laws on offensive weapons are not enforced but “agencies are working to together to address this issue within the community”. The Coalition promised to repeal unnecessary laws and for every new one, get rid of an old one-it hasn’t happened unless you count planning laws whose changes threaten our countryside. However, you can get a criminal record for over-filling a refuse bin. Lord help you if you put the wrong material in the wrong bin.
My view is that neither the past Labour Government or the Coalition have done anything useful towards fulfilling the three objectives I identified. Both were/are too busy tinkering at the margins, dealing with single-issue fanatics or defending twaddle like Pastygate to get a grip on the real problems. Even if they did, I don’t think there is any politician in any of the parties who has the political and personal bravery to grasp the nettle of leadership.