Shrinking the size of the state by abolishing the NHS and limiting overseas aid to humanitarian disasters could save more than £200bn a year and pave the way for growth-generating tax cuts, says a leading free-market thinktank.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), responsible for many of the policies implemented by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, said the plans to tackle Britain's budget deficit during the current parliament are not radical enough.
So says the Guardian today
It is with enormous sadness that I note that someone posing as a Lib Dem -Mark Littlewood- advocates such damaging and wacky proposals.
The IEA's director general, Mark Littlewood, said that given the choice between reducing public spending to 30% of GDP to allow a £7,500 cut in taxes and keeping public spending at 40%,-...well you can guess where that is heading
We have been here before. Back in the 1950's our party was convulsed when a tiny-well financed -group tried to hijack the party. William Wallace wrote about this in a letter to Liberal History Journal when he commented on the role of the Radical Reform Group (RRG). I've copied it in full:
The group of free-trade Liberals that included S.W.Alexander and Oliver Smedley had drive, financial resources, and a clear sense of Liberalism in a libertarian, minimum-state interpretation. The almost anarchic structure of party assemblies allowed for such groups to exert real influence.
RRG, as I recall, provided the most coherent alternative definition of Liberalism – much closer to the radical Liberal tradition, and to the nonconformist beliefs which a high proportion of its members held. It helped enormously that Jo Grimond as leader was naturally sympathetic to the RRG perspective; but the existence and activities of RRG, and the arguments of its members on the Party Executive, made Grimond’s task in reorienting the party much easier.
Joining the party in 1960, I caught only echoes of the arguments that had convulsed the then-tiny part in the 1950s. My future father-in-law, Edward Rushworth, had for many years been both a member of RRG and of the party executive.
He made little distinction between being a Liberal and being a teetotal nonconformist; his instincts were anti authoritarian and socially egalitarian.
In the 1962 Orpington byelection Michael Steed and I stayed for a week with the Seldon family while canvassing; Marjorie was an active party member, but her husband Arthur had ‘left the party over free trade’ and was engaged with others of that group in finding an alternative vehicle for their ideas – which became the Institute for Economic Affairs, through which free-market liberal ideas later influenced Margaret Thatcher and her advisers.
William Wallace (Lord Wallace of Saltaire)
You do not need to sign up fully to Professor Richard Grayson thesis that 'while for many Liberal democrats the coalition is explained by practical circumstances, its ideological basis can be found in the dominance of centre-right small state liberalism in the leadership of the Liberal Democrats-to acknowledge that there is a problem that needs sorting.
Revealingly David Howath in his review of two of the books written about the forming of the coalition wrote:
........To make a new judgment on the balance between raising confidence in the financial markets
and lowering it in the real economy in the heat of an election campaign, and to put it into operation
immediately thereafter is, to say the least, courageous. According to Wilson, the Liberal Democrat
leadership took no external advice about the issue, or about the separate issue of accelerated deficit reduction. Both the Treasury and the Bank of England would have reinforced the acceleration view, given half a chance, but that view is built into their nature. Others took very different positions on the optimal path, from the NIESR’s (of which Lord Oakeshott is connected) moderate caution to David Blanchflower’s jeremiads. The puzzle is not that the party took one view or another, but that it did so on the fly without consulting specialists. Has the party of Keynes lost touch with economics as a discipline?
Well if Sir Humphrey had been writing that paragraph I suspect that he would have said it was a 'brave' decision rather than a 'courageous' one unles of course 'courageous' is one notch up from 'brave'.