Category Archives: david cameron

Europe’s Brain-Dead Right

Nobody should be surprised if voters also give Angela Merkel and David Cameron the boot at the next ballot.

By Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal

Readers presumably understand that Europe’s economic crisis is also the crisis of social democracy—of the idea that markets must be made to co-exist with high levels of taxation, regulation, unionization, welfare spending and subsidized health care and education. Eutopia may be nice in theory; it may even work for a while. But eventually social-democratic policies will lead to economic stagnation, policy paralysis and national bankruptcy on the continental scale we are witnessing today.So, naturally, Germany’s Social Democrats romped to a 13-point victory in Sunday’s elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, the country’s largest state.

“All politics is local,” goes the cliché, and it would be tempting to read the German result that way, too. The state had long been a Social Democratic stronghold before tipping into the hands of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in 2005. Mrs. Merkel remains broadly liked as chancellor and doesn’t face an election until next year. And the German economy is the envy of Europe.

And yet Mrs. Merkel’s party keeps losing state elections: In its old stronghold of Baden-Würrttemberg last year; in her home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Are Germans doing so well that they’ve decided to become politically flippant about their prosperity? Would Christian Democrats be doing a bit better politically if the economy were doing a bit worse?

The resurgence of the Social Democrats in Germany is of a piece with the strong showing of Labour last month in Britain’s local council elections. It’s of a piece with the pathetic showing this month of Greece’s center-right New Democracy, and of the resurgence there of the hard left. It’s especially of a piece with Francois Hollande’s improbable rise to the French presidency, on the strength of economic ideas whose intellectual sell-by date was sometime in the mid-1970s.

Have the gods gone crazy? No. But maybe there’s a message here for Europe’s joy-fearing conservatives, who seem to have convinced themselves that managing an economy should be like running a 19th-century nunnery—an exercise in the stern suppression of animal spirits.

Take euro-conservative tax policy. In France, Nicolas Sarkozy responded to the euro-zone crisis by increasing some VAT rates to 21.2% from 19.6%, introducing a 3% surcharge on high incomes, and raising the effective capital-gains tax to 32.5% from 31.3%. In Britain, David Cameron raised VAT to 20% from 17.5% and kept the top marginal rate at 50% (now coming down to a still-exorbitant 45%).

Germany? Tax cuts Mrs. Merkel promised when she was re-elected never materialized, though corporate rates have come down. The new conservative Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy is raising the top marginal rate of income tax to 52% from 45%. In Holland, the right-of-center government increased the top VAT rate two percentage points to 21% and doubled the country’s bank tax prior to its sudden collapse last month. Italy’s technocratic administration of Mario Monti has imposed new levies on property, luxury goods and repatriated wealth.

No wonder the natives are stirring. Europe’s right-of-center leaders came to office on the perception that they are better economic managers than their left-of-center counterparts. What they’ve mainly shown is that they are just as incompetent—only a lot more severe.

Raising consumption taxes in an otherwise flat-lining economy is especially galling if it’s joined to the perception (accurate or not) that the government plans to lay off government workers. Why should Europeans be made to sacrifice on an altar of austerity whose benefits have so far failed to materialize, except perhaps as a slightly more palatable debt-to-GDP score? Just who is this thing called “the economy” meant to serve?

The astonishing political result is that it is now the left that has captured the language of growth. Never mind the precise formulas: blowout deficit spending, loose monetary policy, millionaire surcharges, a Tobin tax, euro bonds financed by anybody who can turn water into wine, a “mild” dose of inflation. At least the left is talking growth, not redistribution. That’s a mark of political progress.

Here’s something else the European left seems to be recapturing: the language of sovereignty and democracy.

For years, it was the right that had a corner on that particular market, with its suspicion of all things Brussels. But Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy undercut that reputation with their serially ill-fated efforts to broker grand bargains for “saving” the euro zone. Their prescriptions were rubbish—Does Greece look like it’s been rescued? Has Mrs. Merkel’s fiscal pact held up?—but their arrogance was worse. Nobody wants their economic future dictated to them by leaders they didn’t elect, in languages they probably don’t understand. Yet that’s exactly what “Merkozy” sought to impose.

Now it’s gone, and good riddance too. The French will probably soon come to regret Mr. Hollande, but it’s unlikely Mr. Sarkozy will be missed. Nobody should be surprised if voters also give Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Rajoy and Mr. Cameron the boot at the next ballot. At its best, the right should stand for the idea that the purpose of government is to allow people to flourish, mainly by getting out of their way. Today’s European right stands instead for imposing penalties on people in order to atone for the sins of government. That’s a right that deserves to lose, and will, until it learns that voters want freedom, not chastity.

A version of this article appeared May 15, 2012, on page A15 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Europe’s Brain-Dead Right.
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Filed under angela merkel, austerity, bret stephens, david cameron, nicholas sarkozy, wall street journal

David Cameron becomes youngest Prime Minister in almost 200 years

David Cameron has become the youngest British Prime Minister in almost 200 years after Gordon Brown resigned as premier, bringing to an end 13 years of Labour rule.

Daily Telegraph story here.

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>Yes, Prime Minister

>
The events that took place today in London were nothing short of remarkable. If you were able to watch any of the proceedings during our 1pm-3pm hours (CST), you know what I’m talking about.

During that time, Gordon Brown resigned as Prime Minister, he then left 10 Downing Street to head to Buckingham Palace where he gave the Queen his resignation. Then, within minutes, David Cameron went to Buckingham Palace where the Queen asked him to form a government, he agreed, and with that a new Prime Minister made his way to Downing Street to get to work.

Upon arriving to 10 Downing Street, Cameron gave this speech, with no notes and no teleprompter.

The dynamics of the election last week and some of what led to the changes today, will be stuff of history. We’ll be reading about it for years to come I’m sure. One of the people who had led Obama’s campaign in 2008, Anita Dunn, was a key player in Cameron’s campaign. It’s no coincidence that “change” was part of the Conservative Party logo and message this year.

As I touched on before and will write more about later, the Cameron campaign was a conservative model that we should look at following parts of here in the United States going into 2010. From the “contract with young people“, to their “contract for jobs“, to their “quality of life manifesto“, I think the Conservative Party put forth one positive proposal after another and they earned the trust of the people of Britain (yes there is a hung parliament, but the number of seats that changed hands was overwhelming).

One thing we must understand, and learn to live with, it that in those proposals, people may not have agreed with the Conservative Party 100% on each idea in each proposal. However, the party itself was bold enough to say “here is where we stand, where does the other side stand?”. I think when you make the choices that clear, people will always follow the logical options and the ones based on the most common sense

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Filed under 2010, 2010 election, 2012, Britain, conservatism, david cameron, england, gordon brown, london, parliament, prime minister, UK

>Conservative Offense Must Be Keeping Gordon Brown Awake At Night

>As I reported yesterday, Conservative Party candidate for Prime Minister, David Cameron, introduced what is known as “A contract between the Conservative Party and you”.

Obviously, I was impressed. Then, I woke up this morning to see that the Conservative Party has now introduced a “contract for jobs“. In my opinion, this contract is full of common sense solutions. One of the highlights was this:

“introduce Work for Yourself, a new scheme to help unemployed would-be entrepreneurs start their own business by giving them access to a business mentor and start-up loans.”

I happen to think this overall concept is great, it’s something we should have been doing here since the beginning of the internet boom. I do wonder about the word “scheme” though. Maybe overseas that word carries a different connotation, but here, that word sounds under-handed and negative.

The election is four days away. The Conservatives are on serious offense right now. I almost can’t wait until the 10pm and 11pm hours here in the States for the new articles to start hitting the British websites in their early morning hours. You have to assume Gordon Brown wants to respond, which would mean Cameron is controlling the debate. I suspect we’ll have four more days of full throttle offense from Cameron and the Conservatives on their way to victory on Thursday.

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>Britons Adopt "Contract" Theme

>On Thursday afternoon I tuned it to watch the third and final Prime Minister debate from across the pond, you can watch the entire debate here. As mentioned here before, this is the first time these debates have ever been televised. One bit of irony for me was the way Gordon Brown mirrored Richard Nixon. Not necessarily the Richard Nixon from the first ever televised Presidential debates in 1960, but the later Nixon on the 1968 and 1972 campaigns. So the “television thing” is something we Americans could claim as our idea, now adopted by the Britons some 50 years later.

Now, the guy at the top of the ballot for the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has proposed a “contract” to 3.5 million independent voters. He went through many of the same rituals that Newt Gingrich and the Republicans did in 1994, such as signing a giant version of the contract in front of a crowd. The “contract” also includes a suggestion to the voters that if the promises are not met, they are to “vote us out” in five years.

A good report on this new development can be found here:

The contract sets out 16 different pledges – five to change politics, five to change the economy and six to change society.

They include controlling immigration, cutting the pay of Government ministers and raising standards in schools.

The two-page document – entitled “A contract between the Conservative Party and you” – is also used to rebuff Labour allegations that Mr Cameron is secretly planning to remove some benefits, including the winter fuel allowance and other state perks for pensioners.

The contract can be found here in full.

If you haven’t paid attention to this process overseas, it’s worth looking at because I think the Conservative Party is doing many things we would do well adopting here in the lead up to 2010 and 2012. In that final debate, in a somewhat heated moment where the candidates are actually afforded more dialogue than ours are afforded, there was this great comment spoken by David Cameron:

“But do I want to cut taxes on all businesses, particularly small businesses to get the economy moving? You’re damn right I do.”

If you go to the CSPAN feed of the debate and advance to 35:54, you’ll see the comments in full. We don’t hear candidates talk like that here.

We’ve heard the saying that “life mirrors art”, well in this case, countries are mirroring countries through their political systems. With the expected results this week in Britain, where the Conservative Party is now poised to lead for the first time since 1997, we might do well to remember what worked and what didn’t, and see if we can do some mirroring of our own. Elections like these, and the recent elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia show that when we intelligently and passionately take our message to the voters, we win elections.

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Filed under 2010, 2010 election, 2012, Britain, clegg, david cameron, gordon brown

>British Prime Minster Election

>I’m ready to call next week’s Prime Minister election in favor of Conservative party candidate David Cameron. Prime Minister Brown’s recent gaffe, is such a clear example of the difference in political systems between the U.S. and Britain. While it used to be true that “what happens in Europe eventually happens here”, the Prime Minister candidates are having live television debates this year, for the FIRST time ever. Something we started doing here in 1960 with the infamous Kennedy vs. Nixon debate.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/template/utils/ooyala/telegraph_player.swf

There had been quite a bit of speculation about a hung Parliament, but the gaffe by the guy at the top of the ballot, may influence enough independents to empower the Conservative party.

I’ll have more later on about the impact of the Conservative party on the national elections in Britain. I think the party has done many things right. David Cameron presented what became known as a “Green Manifesto”, which addressed environmental issues from a more sensible, rational point of view. Stay tuned.

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Filed under 2010 election, Britain, conservative party, david cameron, england, gordon brown, london, parliament, prime minister, UK