God I love how little time this election has taken.
The Times has not endorsed the Conservative Party at a general election for 18 years. For far too much of that time, the Conservative Party turned inward and vacated the ground on which British electoral victory is won — a commitment to the prosperity and liberty fostered in a free-market economy and a sense of justice in an open and tolerant society. Tony Blair’s Labour Party took up the promise of modernity, through its commitment to enterprise and the courage to stand tall in the world. Sadly, over the past 13 years that promise has faded. We all know that Britain can do better: it is surely time to regain our optimism.
This election offers a fundamental choice about the future of this country. It offers a moment to put old-fashioned tribal loyalties, class prejudices and social habits aside. We must choose. Either we are to be a country that has lost confidence in the ingenuity and potential of its people, and concludes that the State must continue to grow to protect us from ourselves. Or we can be a country that cares for the needy but reins in the ever-growing appetite of government and frees up people to grow their businesses, nurture their families and pursue their own hopes and happiness.
At an acutely difficult moment in our history, The Times puts its faith in the people rather than the government. It chooses a strong society, more enterprise and a smaller State. It chooses real, radical change. It chooses renewal.
They go on about how wunnerful Tony Blair was (sigh), then say that the years of Labour have come with a price (no kiddin’):
A Chancellor who had proclaimed an end to boom and bust embarked on a spending spree of remarkable improvidence. Public sector staff now earn £2,000 a year more on average than their private sector counterparts. Spending rose, over the Labour years, by an extraordinary 54 per cent. Productivity lagged behind. Gordon Brown savaged the private pensions industry and sold off the bulk of Britain’s gold reserves much too cheaply. In short, Labour squandered the boom. Even excluding the cost of the bank bailout, which was necessitated by the global credit crunch, Britain is now borrowing £163 billion a year. Mr Brown’s pitch at this election is that voters should not risk the recovery by backing the Conservatives. He does not seem to realise that the greatest threat is more of the same. Yes, the economy is in peril. Mr Brown is the danger.
Britain has also paid a high price in terms of trust in politics. What began as a professional spin operation in Downing Street became a machinery of deceit. Anonymous briefings by figures such as Damian McBride and Tom Watson, part of the cabal around Gordon Brown, dripped poison about opponents both inside the Labour Party and outside. The public stopped believing in official statistics as the Budget became plagued with double-counting, and the real cost of new schools and hospitals was kept off balance sheet. The 10p starting rate of tax was abolished purely to score a political point. The nadir of this style of politics was Mr Brown’s refusal to fund the mission in Afghanistan properly and his repeated denials that he had done so, culminating in a false claim before the Chilcot inquiry that defence spending had risen every year. After ten years in which he was found wanting in the top job, for the past three he has just been found wanting.
Ouch, eh? It goes on, it’s quite long, so read the whole thing.
The Guardian – Editorial: General election 2010: The liberal moment has come
If the Guardian had a vote it would be cast enthusiastically for the Liberal Democrats. But under our discredited electoral system some people may – hopefully for the last time – be forced to vote tactically
Proportional representation – while not a panacea – would at last give this country what it has lacked for so long: a parliament that is a true mirror of this pluralist nation, not an increasingly unrepresentative two-party distortion of it.
Now that’s taking a firm policy stand!
David Cameron has done what none of his immediate predecessors has understood or tried to do: he has confronted the Conservative party with the fact that it was out of step with the country. He has forced the party to become more diverse and to engage with centre-ground opinion. He has explicitly aligned himself with the liberal Conservative tradition which the Thatcherites so despised during their long domination of the party. He has promoted modern thinking on civil liberty, the environment and aspects of social policy.
Mr Cameron offers a new and welcome Toryism, quite different from what Michael Howard offered five years ago. His difficulty is not that he is the “same old Tory”. He isn’t. The problem is that his revolution has not translated adequately into detailed policies, and remains highly contradictory. He embraces liberal Britain yet protests that Britain is broken because of liberal values. He is eloquent about the overmighty state but proposes to rip up the Human Rights Act which is the surest weapon against it. He talks about a Britain that will play a constructive role in Europe while aligning the Tories in the European parliament with some of the continent’s wackier xenophobes. Behind the party leader’s own engagement with green issues there stands a significant section of his party that still regards global warming as a liberal conspiracy.
Hmmm. This, too, goes on.
I’ve heard that the FT will, reluctantly, endorse Cameron. No word yet on the Telegraph.