The Spectator

Vote Tory | 30 April 2005

Vote Conservative for freedom, democracy and taxpayer value

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Given that most readers will have voted by the time this magazine next appears, we have no hesitation in now urging them to vote Conservative. This is no time for dwelling on any deficiencies in Tory personnel or programmes. Nor is it a time for bashing Mr Blair and his clapped-out, deceitful, nannying and discredited government. It is time to vote Conservative in a spirit of optimism and confidence, not least because the Tories are the only party remotely interested in the democratic freedoms of this country.

The Labour manifesto makes clear that a third Blair government would complete the work of wrecking the House of Lords and imposing the elective dictatorship of the Commons. If you believe that we need a proper revising chamber (and seldom have its virtues been more clearly seen than in the passage of Labour’s tyrannical control orders), then you should vote Conservative. If you want to restore health to local democracy, and you are fed up with the ludicrous accretion of power to Prescottian regional assemblies, and if you resent the unelected quangocrats who are taking ever more decisions — not least over where to plonk vast new developments in the South East — then you should vote Conservative, because only the Tories will terminate this anti-democratic malarkey and thereby save billions. If you think it infamous that modern Britain should become only the third country, after Hitler’s Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, to ban hunting with hounds, then you should vote Conservative, because only the Conservatives will restore an ancient and blameless practice. If you want to impose some sense on Britain’s European policy, then you should vote Conservative, to get out of the Common Fisheries Policy, scrap UK membership of the Social Chapter (whose insane prescriptions have appalled even New Labour ministers), keep an independent macro-economic policy and currency, and say no to the further erosions of democracy envisaged in the European constitution.

After eight years, it is unbelievable that Labour should still enjoy a lead in the polls, given what the party has done to the legitimate expectations of Britain’s 12 million pensioners. If you want to punish Gordon Brown for his stealth taxes, help a million pensioners out of the poverty trap by uprating their pension in line with earnings, and if you believe in encouraging people to save now, in the hope of defusing the pensions time bomb, then it is responsible only to vote Conservative on 5 May. Given that there are still a million people on waiting lists, and that 5,000 people a year are dying of staphylococcus and other simple iatrogenic infections, and given that these phenomena are virtually unknown in Britain’s main European comparators, the current Labour lead on health is a testament to the bovine passivity of the British electorate. If you want to give people the hope of faster and better treatment, if you think we should no longer be treated like serfs by a top-down, producer-captured, 1940s system, then you should vote for a Conservative approach which — whatever difficulties it involves — would begin to replicate the mixed-funding method that is indispensable to success in other countries. If you think politicians should stop trying to improve healthcare by belabouring professionals with targets and commands, then it is time for a change of government.

If you are a teacher or a headteacher, and you feel that Whitehall simultaneously exhausts you with demands to fill in forms, and yet gives you no support in imposing discipline over your classrooms, then you should be a natural Conservative voter. If you are a parent or an employer, and you think it a scandal that this government has connived in the debauching of our examinations, to the point where a mark of 16 per cent can be rated a C at GCSE maths, then you should vote Conservative and eject from office a party so boneheadedly hostile to scholarship that a secretary of state for education could deprecate the study of ancient languages and civilisations. If you are an academic or lecturer, and you find yourself in a fog of depression because the degree course you teach receives the same funding and esteem as a degree in windsurfing at Bangor, then you should vote Conservative. Last year the 89 British universities and institutions of higher education received £6.6 billion from the taxpayer, a derisory amount when you consider that Harvard alone has an endowment of £20 billion. It is time for the universities to vote for freedom, and get the Treasury thumb off their windpipe. And as long as the British education system turns out so many ill-disciplined louts, the police should be doing more to impose order on the streets, and they should vote Tory to scrap the stop form and other ecstasies of Macphersonism.

Above all, you should vote Conservative if you think you are paying too much in tax, and you think it unfair that the burden should fall so heavily on the poor, and if you think hiring 850,000 state-sector employees and losing a million manufacturing jobs is no way to run an economy. We can’t just drift on with a Labour administration that has plainly run out of money, hope and ideas, and wait for Tony to pass the torch to Gordon. Vote Conservative for freedom, democracy and taxpayer value.