Dave is in Prague this morning to address the party conference of ODS
, the future European parliamentary partners of the Tories. Founded by Thatcherite ideologue Václav Klaus, the party is receptive to what is a very rare message today from a politician – “fight for freedom”
. His speech has more ideological content than his normal stump speeches:-
“So there are many battles we must fight together, and my message to you today is a simple one – a message that I know you will understand more than most. The battle for freedom and opportunity is never finally won. In each generation, those of us who believe in freedom, in human potential, in the idea that the strength of our society comes from the energy and industry and creativity of our people; those of us who believe in these things must be ready to fight for them because the enemies of freedom are never finally vanquished. They always live to fight another day. Today we can see the enemies of freedom preparing a renewed assault on our liberty. They do not mean to harm us. In fact, they mean to help us. But their ideas are out of date, their methods have failed and their advance must be derailed. I am speaking of the politicians and public officials who believe that they know best how to organise our lives. That they are the experts, so they must have the power. You can find them everywhere – in my country, in your country and in the EU itself. They are the last defenders of the bureaucratic age, an age before the information revolution and our new world of freedom that makes it possible to put real power in people’s hands. But in their desire to control, to regulate, to direct, the defenders of the bureaucratic age have over-reached themselves. They have gone too far. They have tried to do too much. And it has exposed the historic error of their ways.
In Britain, bureaucratic over-reach has seen the Labour Government creeping further and further into the lives of British people. Millions of families sucked into a complex system of tax credits. An army of tax collectors that is now almost as big as our actual army. Fingerprinting children at school. And this week we saw a shocking consequence of this bureaucratic over-reach: a scandal where the government has lost the names, addresses and bank details of almost every family in the country. Are they learning the lesson? Do they accept that bureaucracy has gone too far? Of course not. They are stuck in the bureaucratic age. So they now want to take personal information about everyone in the country and store it on a national identity register. We are seeing this bureaucratic over-reach in the EU too. The desire for harmonisation and homogenisation – on tax, on regulation, on so many aspects of public and private life. It is the last gasp of an outdated ideology, a philosophy that has no place in our new world of freedom, a world which demands that we fight this bureaucratic over-reach and lead Europe into the hope and potential of a new, post-bureaucratic age.”
Dave is no Churchill, or even a Reagan, but it is refreshing to hear a politican talk optimistically about freedom. Amidst all the fear-mongering about security that is peddled in the war-on-terror, what we are fighting for, rather than against, is forgotten. The government is far too willing to trade real liberty for fake security.