Times Online – Heavy taxes, a bloated state – we’re marching down the road to serfdom, by Gerard Baker

t will get worse. The Government now backs a more or less open-ended commitment to pouring ever more resources into the demonstrably inefficient bureaucracy of the NHS. Pensions, welfare benefits and education will devour tens of billions more even than current projections suggest. Labour practises ambiguity on this — alternately taking pride in all that money that has been thrown on the NHS bonfire and promising “reform” through the introduction of more choice in public service provision. But does anyone really think that the party intends to reverse the slide towards Scandinavian levels of profligacy?

It is not impossible to stop this train from leaving the station. But what are the opposition up to? The Tories say the answer is — wait for it — a £4 billion tax cut. Mercy! Will the entrepreneurial instincts of the British people be liberated, and the impending socialisation of more than half the UK economy halted, by a measure that will reduce the size of the state by a whopping 0.6 per cent?

The Tories try to cover their hopeless insufficiency to the task by focusing their grubby little energies on immigration, a campaign that includes the depressingly anti-market promise that they will tell companies in search of skilled overseas workers to get lost.

As for the Liberal Democrats, has there been a more inaptly named political structure in the world since some clever North Korean came up with the Democratic People’s Republic? The liberalism that this party favours is the sort that would accelerate the confiscation of private property now in train by returning to some of the punitive tax rates of the 1970s. The democracy they favour is the sort that involves surrendering sovereignty to the EU and the United Nations as fast as possible. Didn’t there used to be something called the Trade Descriptions Act that forbade this kind of mis-selling?

The lack of serious fiscal choice on offer is only a reflection of a broader surrender to the principle that government has the answers and the people should stop worrying their little heads about it. Every conversation one has in this country seems to start from the premise that everything that ails us can be put right by government — whether it is obesity or the decline of classical music.

And what exquisite irony! The one thing in the past four years that the Government really did get right — the deposing of a dangerous dictator and the liberation of 24 million people from tyranny — is now regarded in the closed circle of serious political discussion as an act of pure evil.

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