Cameron: an apology (Photo: Rii Schroer)
In the latest Spectator I have written an open letter to my old university mate David Cameron. Here is a companion piece: the letter I’d like to see him write to the nation, having at last recognised the gravity of the crisis we’re in.
He won’t write it, of course.
If you realised just how totally stuffed we are you wouldn’t waste time getting to the end of this letter. You’d already be outside Number 10 with pitchforks demanding my head on a spike – and you’d be quite right to do so, for I have failed you. My cabinet has failed you. My Coalition government has failed you. And it’s no good our trying to blame the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown administrations for having failed you even more. We are where we are – and where we are is about as dire a place as Britain has ever found itself in in its entire existence.
That includes, let me assure you, even the darkest days of the Second World War. Back then, however bad things might get, we were cushioned by an empire, by America, by a sense of unity and purpose, by a national character defined by resilience, self-reliance, patriotism, decency and an absolute determination – even unto death – never to surrender to tyranny in any form.
Today, none of this applies. Our empire is gone; the US – read Mark Steyn’s brilliant After America – is now owned by China; our national character has been diluted by waves of unchecked immigration and by the sapping of moral and intellectual purpose which comes with decades of ingrained “progressivism”. As for tyranny we’ve already long since surrendered to it. It’s called the EU – and the fact that it has a caring, sharing, equality-loving, nurturing, “communitarian” face does not make it any less dangerous or anti-democratic than the kind of regimes that Louis XIV or Napoleon or Hitler or Stalin were trying to impose on Europe’s once-sovereign peoples. It just makes it more subtle, and sly, and ultimately more effective, that’s all.
Some people will laugh at me for telling you this. They’ll say that I’ve lost my head; that I’m panicking you needlessly. Oh really? And which one of the problems facing us, would you say, was overstated: the fact that the European economy is on the verge of collapse; that Britain currently has a £4.8 trillion debt, which it is nowhere close even to beginning to shave off; that our best ally, America, is in worse shape than we are thanks, not least, to the reckless spending of President Obama; that one in five children have parents who have never been in work; that, thanks to our abysmal, dumbed down, low-expectation schooling we have two generations without literacy, numeracy, or even the beginnings of an understanding of what it might involve to pursue a career which doesn’t depend either on crime or state handouts; that we can no longer afford an effective military; that our police force is so hamstrung by political correctness it is incapable of protecting people or property; that our political class is so utterly remote and ineffectual that voters can scarcely see any point in going to the ballot box any more, for wherever they place the X it won’t make the blindest bit of difference. First came Blair; now you’ve got the Heir To Blair. Nothing has changed; nothing will change until a politician of principle stands up and says: “Enough is enough.”
And that’s why I’m writing this letter to you now. I want, first, to apologise for the disaster I have been since “winning” – or rather “not quite losing” – the last General Election for reasons which were almost entirely the fault of myself and my political advisers.
We took the view – the cowardly, defeatist and wrong view, I now admit – that Britain had grown so irredeemably socialised under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that the only way a Conservative administration could ever regain power was by offering still more of the same (only with a green-tinged blue rosette instead of a red one, to give the punters the illusion they had some kind of democratic choice). The problem with adopting this attitude of “managed decline” – as my ideological soulmate Ted Heath found in the 1970s; and I’m finding now – is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So what’s to be done? The good news that what needs to be done is very, very simple: the exact opposite of what got into us this mess in the first place. And what got us here, is excessive taxation, regulation, and government spending. We need to remember that there are only two kinds of government money: the kind it rips off from taxpayers in the productive sector of the economy; and the kind it borrows at rates of interest which mean it either has to borrow still more money or take still more money off the taxpayer. Either way the result is the same: an economy in which it becomes increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs, traders, small businessmen – the backbone of an economy – to go about their work. If they can’t go about their work then the economy cannot grow. And if the economy cannot grow, the government will need to take still more money from the taxpayer, or borrow still more money (at possibly even higher rates of interest) merely to maintain its current spending levels. The inevitable result is a spiral of decline.
But while the good news is that the remedy is very simple, the bad news is that it will be extremely hard to apply. One of the main reasons for this is the nature of the political class: whether on the Left or what currently passes for the “centre-Right”, its instincts are much the same – always to ask “what more can the Government do to help?” This is the wrong question, for the answer is always the same: more stifling bureaucracy; more parasite-like layers of administration; more regulation; more spending of money that the government simply does not have.
The other main reason is you, the British people. Far too many of you, for far too long have got far too used to the idea that government’s job is to wipe your backsides for you. And it’s not. Not from now on, at any rate. For one thing we can’t afford the paper. For another thing we can’t afford the staff to do something which most of you are perfectly capable of doing for yourselves. It’s a scandalous waste of other people’s money – taxpayer’s money – and the very last thing we need if we’re even to begin to hope to compete in a global economy against places like India and China and Brazil where the work force are perfectly capable of putting in 12 hour days and wiping their own backsides without any expectation that the state’s role is to do their dirty work for them.
That’s why I’m writing to you now to tell you like it is. What I’m hoping is that I’m straight with you, you’ll be straight with me in return. You’ll never again take the soft, easy, head-in-the-sand path of voting for which ever political party offers to bribe you the most with money it doesn’t have. You’ll vote for the one which acknowledges the scale of the problem facing us all and which has the courage and the will to deal with it.
That political party ought, by rights, to be the Conservatives. And perhaps – before I embarked on my misguided quest to “detoxify the brand” – it would have been. But as you may have noticed recently this is no longer case. We have a Justice Secretary more interested in the rights of criminals than law-abiding citizens; we have a Home Secretary who believes that policing should primarily serve the interests of Britain’s senior police officers rather than the citizens they’re supposed to protect; we have a Foreign Secretary – formerly a principled Eurosceptic – who has since done a Portillo and decided that his post-politics employment prospects are better served by selling British interests down the river at every turn, for that way a comfy future on the Euro gravy train lies.
And if you think the Conservative wets in my cabinet are a liability, imagine what it’s like having to govern with Liberal Democrats. We have an Energy and Climate Change Secretary whose primary purpose is to bomb our economy back to the age of the wattle and daub and the coracle; we have a Business Secretary who loathes business; we have a Deputy Prime Minister who doesn’t know what he wants except that it has to be the opposite of whatever Conservatives want otherwise he’ll get torn to pieces by his own party.
This is no way to run a country. It is especially no way to run a country on the brink of a precipice. That is why today I’m going to offer you a clear political choice. I’m scrapping the Coalition, because 2013 is far, far too late to start out on the rescue package which needs to be initiated now. Instead, I’m going to stake my political career and the future of Britain by calling an immediate general election.
After that it’s up to you: liberty or the soft, enervating tyranny of the Left; growth or stagnation; future or no future; jobs or no jobs for your children and grandchildren. You choose.