Wednesday, 21 July 2010

'New Politics' and old ideologies

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the supposedly 'necessary' cuts in everything the current government can get its hands on are ideologically driven, not practical. Even a Tory-dominated select committee doesn't buy the economic arguments for these measures.

It is worth noting, however, that this government does, in fact, have an overarching plan beyond cuts, cuts cuts. This plan, however, is a rather unoriginal one.

In the same way that George W Bush talked of compassionate conservatism, so this 'liberal' government talks of Big Society. Both these are strikingly similar ideologically... in simple terms, the consider the best way to encourage companies to play by the rules - to respect the environment and the greater good - is not to regulate them, but rather to ask them nicely to follow these rules.

So, for example, out goes the regulatory functions of the Food Standards Agency, and in comes another dose of self-regulation. A bit like the PCC of the food world, I guess. Deputy PM Clegg has started his hunt for similar bodies to be restrained, shrunk or scrapped, all in the name of free enterprise.

But herein lies much of the problem - one person's 'red tape' is another's necessary law to protect the public good. And too often - as evidenced from the oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico to the child labourers in Indian sweatshops - companies demonstrate that, given a free hand unburdened by regulations, they will leave such moral considerations behind.

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