When Was the Last Time You Heard a Cameroon Mention “Freedom”?

Gove wants to take away our Nuts, IDS and Ed Vaizey think dads shouldn’t be allowed to take their 14 year-old sons to see the latest Batman movie. It is particularly galling that Gove and Vaizey have previously projected themselves as on the libertarian side of the libertarian / authoritarian divide. Libertarian paternalism, government “nudging”, is increasingly beginning to seem like a modernised version of old fashioned authoritarian conservativism. Vaizey explicitly encourages local councils to exercise their statutory powers to prevent teenage boys seeing Batman. That is not a nudge, that is a kick in the teeth for parental responsibility, it is not the business of the state to determine for parents what is their cultural norm.

David Davis is no longer in the shadow cabinet, apart from him it is a long time since Guido has heard a senior Conservative figure mention the word “freedom”. Quality of life issues are the order of the day – well Guido has news – freedom is the most cherished quality of life for many of us. Libertarians care about family values, families are the fundamental unit of society, the welfare state has done more damage to families than anything else. Guido doesn’t need lecturing from dysfunctional politicians on family values. Julie Burchill is on to something in her new book, she reckons the posh have embraced Green values as cover to talk down to working class people. Most Greens are she (and her co-author, Chas Newkey-Burden) says, pious, sexless, contemptuous of humankind, posh and rich, having found in environmentalism a new excuse for lecturing the poor. Telling other people to live by rules they don’t apply to themselves.

Vaizey isn’t advocating a nudge, he is advocating a state prohibition. If the Conservatives don’t respect the family and no longer defend freedom they will encourage the more socially liberal to vote LibDem – particularly if the Liberal Democrats really become a low tax party.

The last speech Guido can find where a Cameroon mentions freedom was in November 2007. It was a good one:

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… 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…

Consider this reminder a little nudge Dave…

UPDATE : ConservativeHome has a round-up of disquiet on the right about “nudging” – essentially some are worried that it harks back to “the man in Whitehall knows best”. It is not nudging if the state starts prohibiting or prescribing. Daddy Dizzy decides not Big Brother Vaizey. Libertarians are fathers too…




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