January 9, 2017

Beware the threat of ‘The Shared Society’

Beware the threat of ‘The Shared Society’

While sometimes necessary, state intervention such as that prescribed by the Prime Minister over the weekend is not without its risks. If left unfettered, state bureaucracy can threaten individual freedom, argues Peter Bingle.

During the terrible 2010 Tory election campaign David Cameron launched his big idea – The Big Society. It was clear from the launch that nobody including Dave had the faintest idea was the Big Society was let alone what policies would be necessary to make it a reality.

It is therefore completely understandable that the PM’s launching of her big idea – ‘The Shared Society’ – has been met with a large dose of very healthy scepticism. Every PM wants to define themselves, so as long as the idea is harmless does it really matter?

Yet there is a political justification for what the PM is trying to define and achieve, as long as it is acknowledged from the start that this is a time limited idea which needs to have very clear goals and a very specific policy agenda.

I have always believed that the state is intrinsically bad. Giving power to faceless bureaucrats and taking away power from individuals cannot be benign, particularly for those of us on the right of the political spectrum. In the end bureaucracy is self-serving. It has no regard for customers or individual citizens. Unfettered it is a threat to individual freedom.

Yet there are instances when state involvement can be justified. There are instances in the private sector where competition is a fiction. In such circumstances the state has a compelling right to intervene to break up monopoly power. There is also an argument to support positive discrimination when the status quo is unable to deal with unacceptable unfairness. Why, for example, have governments of all political persuasions failed to create a black middle class with role models who are doctors, lawyers and businessmen rather than athletes, footballers and pop stars? Why have governments allowed so many citizens to live in such unacceptably bad large council estates? I could go on …

That said, the Tory instinct remains that increasing the power of the state (regardless of the laudable objectives behind the move) is something which should be opposed. So why is a Tory PM proposing to do just that?

It is a fact that the years of Cameron and Osborne were a wasted opportunity when it came to social mobility and making Britain a fairer and more equal society. They never understood what it is like to be poor but ambitious. They were unable to escape their class. The two last politicians of any political party to do so were Thatcher and Tebbit. A delicious irony.

The Brexit vote revealed the UK to be a country deeply ill at ease with itself. The vote to leave the EU was a vote to reject the power of the liberal metropolitan elite. It was also a scream of anger and a cry of despair. The Shared Society is the PM’s attempt to respond to a ill tempered and angry electorate who have had enough.

If the ‘Shared Society’ ensures that people are better housed, children are better educated, old people are better cared for and the mentally ill are treated with dignity then there is a case for it. The proviso is that the PM and her brain Nick Timothy must set out very clearly what the key objectives are and a timetable to achieve them.

People who are having a tough time through no fault of their own need and deserve help to turn around their situation. In this transitional period there is a temporary role for the state. Once people are back on their own two feet, however, the last thing they want is to be shackled by the state. This is the inherent contradiction within the concept of the ‘Shared Society’.

So two cheers mixed with a real worry that the PM having unleashed increased state power will never again be able to reign it back in.

2.44 avg. rating (52% score) - 9 votes
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Peter Bingle
Peter is the Founder of Terrapin Communications. With a career in politics and communications that has spanned almost four decades, he is one of the country's leading public affairs practitioners. His career has seen him advise many top companies, including McDonald’s, HSBC, L’Oreal, Permira, Motorola, Camelot, Rolls Royce & Kellogg's.
  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see https://mises.org/blog/goal-socialists-socialism-—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. https://mishtalk.com/2017/03/29/bad-brexit-deal-better-than-no-deal-mathematical-idiocy-odds-of-no-deal/ and https://www.worldheadlines.info/2017/03/after-brexit-9-reasons-to-be-bullish-on-great-britain/

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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