Sunday, 4 September 2011

So hard to agree with the Right, however hard I try

It’s difficult finding common ground with the political right. Even when I agree with one of their cardinal principles, I find they don’t agree with it themselves.

The principle is question is the one they refer to as ‘small government’. As I’ve pointed out before, it was most eloquently summarised by a radical of the left, supporter of the revolutions  in America and France, Tom Paine: ‘That government is best that governs least.’

Tom Paine: would have supported the Boston Tea Party,
but probably not the modern variation
I feel the wisdom of this view all the more strongly the closer any of the alleged supporters of ‘small government’ get to power. Michele Bachmann proclaiming to Americans that hurricanes are warnings from God to Obama to reduce the deficit. Rick Perry asserting the right of the United States to launch pre-emptive wars. Yep. If they ever get anywhere near government, I’d like it kept as small as humanly possible.

But do these people actually favour small government themselves? After all, Rick Perry launched his presidential campaign with a prayer meeting. He and Bachmann seem deeply committed to governing with God.

How much bigger can you get than that?

Over this side of the pond, the ‘small government’ lot are in office right now. In the aftermath of the recent street disturbances, David Cameron called for powers to shut down Twitter and Facebook at times of trouble.

One of the more remarkable reactions to the looting was the great cleanup in Clapham the following day. It was organised through Twitter. Had Cameron’s approach been adopted at that time, this highly positive response wouldn’t have been possible.  

Sadly, the momentum seems to be going out of Cameron’s initiative, as it has out of rather a lot of others in the past (selling off Forestry Land, reorganising the NHS, sucking up to Murdoch). Still, he probably thought it was a good idea because of how much better life is in countries where governments can shut down bits of the internet at will. Like China. Or Iran. Or North Korea.

In what sense, though, would it keep government small?

Postscript: a woman’s right to choose and everyone’s right to know
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and Labour MP Frank Field are pushing a parliamentary measure to force women considering a termination of pregnancy, to get counselling first from an organisation that is not involved in the performance of the abortions themselves.
This would sound sensible if, say, those organisations had some financial interest in maximising the number of abortions they carry out. They are, however, charities with no such incentive. And most of the organisations who might provide the ‘independent’ counselling seem to be aligned with the anti-abortion movement.
But just who are they?
Difficult to tell. Asked to reveal who was backing the campaign for her measure, Dorries wasn’t prepared to say.
Curious, isn’t it, given that the campaign calls itself the ‘Right to Know’.

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