Johan Wennstrm

Swedish lessons

Swedish lessons
Text settings
Comments

As one of the many conservatives who cast his vote for Sweden's centre-right Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in September 2006, I found it uplifting to read the speech he gave at the LSE on Tuesday night. It included a number of controversial but important statements. He said the root of Sweden's problems, economic and educational, is the radical 'socialist' policies which 'swept over Swedish society' in the 1970's; policies that were about 'questioning free enterprise' and 'sharp tax rises'. Unfortunately, Reinfeldt has never dared to say this in front a Swedish audience.

His government has put the brakes on the rising unemployment figures by making it more profitable to work, and improved the state of Swedish schools as well as continuing the education legacy of Carl Bildt's government, which introduced the system of independent state schools described by Fraser Nelson in this week's Spectator. But in too many other ways, Reinfeldt has allowed the 'mad quarter of a century' to continue into the 21st. His party is doing almost nothing to change the massive legislation that cripples Sweden's labour market while a recent proposal (fortunately stopped) suggested a 'roof' on private health care insurance policies. It has gone from wanting to slash petrol taxes to introducing more taxes on motorists. All of which owes more to outdated social democratic ideas than bold new thinking.

David Cameron, who was in the audience, should think very carefully about what he wants to copy from his Swedish colleague.