Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Steady As You Go

think-1704831_128_20240627-075840_1 Steady!

Back in 1997 I walked the streets locally and knocked on doors with the Conservative candidate in what was regarded as a safe constituency. It was a thankless task, but a worthy one and in spite of a cold response and some derision he was elected with a respectable majority. I remember standing outside a polling station as a Labour van went by blaring out, Things can only get better – they didn't. They got considerably worse. The incoming government committed constitutional vandalism, set up unaccountable Quangos and were subject to the two largest demonstrations in modern times, one by the Countryside alliance and the other protesting at Blair's war in Iraq over WMDs that didn't exist. Meanwhile Brown squandered the healthy economy he inherited, borrowed during a period of surplus and sold off the gold reserves at basement prices not long before the crash when they would have come in rather handy. The treasury note that was left when the Conservatives resumed power has gone into legend.

What is different this time, with Labour even higher in the polls? The complete disintegration of the party of government once regarded as the natural party of government. A major disenchantment with the Party by many of its members who seem divided into those who would vote Conservative come what may to keep Labour out, those who will vote for the party reluctantly, those who won't vote at all, those growing number who are so fed up they are content to see the Party destroyed (because it is their own fault), and those who have defected to Reform because it seems to have become the new Conservative voice in politics.

However, beyond self-destruction and making a point that might gain Reform a few seats, there is no strategy and no joined-up thinking involved. If there were, there would have been a Conservative/Reform alliance however informal or constituency selective.

So, although the electorate of 2019 has not gone away substantially, it is about to enable, through its choices, a massive Labour majority supported by a revived Lib Dem Party delivering the exact opposite policies from those said electorate wants. This is how democracy defeats itself. Divide and rule, or rather, be divided and so be ruled.


Change cries Labour, as do the Lib Dems, Reform and so on, but they only mean a change of government it seems. Change does not in itself imply improvement. Preserving & cherishing (as in our country) are not in the script. So, we are to expect a lot of legislation from a new government, just like in the Blair years, reminding us of the Cicero maxim, more laws, less justice. Just as Lao Tsu thought that the best form of government was the one, we don't notice, one that repeals laws rather than makes new ones and restricts would seem ideal.

We may still be reeling from lockdowns, supply chains, energy crises, wars and inflation, but most of our woes were made abroad and beyond the direct influence (still less control) of a UK government. No island is truly an island, but subject to global vicissitudes and economic influences. For all that, we are where we are and while I personally disagree with the cautious Keynesian approach, we are on an even keel at last. Inflation at 2% and growth sluggish but sustainable. Debt remains problematic to say the least, but longer lockdowns advocated by other parties would have meant much higher debt and slower recovery. These are the very people the electorate seem content to take over now.

I am no apologist for the sopping wet Sunak government nor the 'considerably wetter than thou' CCHQ, which treats loyal members and local associations as outsiders and an annoyance, hence their reluctance to answer emails from mere supporters. Its power to appoint candidates must be removed at the earliest opportunity and any 'approved list' approved at a local level according to constituency needs. Furthermore, a filtering by examination based on the writings and speeches of Burke, Pit the Younger, Disraeli, Hayek and Thatcher could be introduced to ensure that candidates understand the principles they represent.

For all the mistakes and economic hardship of the government in recent times, its steady as you go policy is finally paying off to such an extent that apart from the debt, a government in place later this year will not inherit a mess. It won't be as good as that inherited by Blair from Major, but had the current government another year in office rewards such as low interest rates and lower taxes and possibly the abolition of inheritance tax would have followed.

It was ever so. Churchill returned to office after Atlee's government had tied Britain to a massive loan from the USA, Margaret Thatcher came to office in the wake of a collapse in the value of the pound, the peaking of inflation, the ignominious application for a huge loan from the IMF and the industrial unrest of the winter of discontent. Cameron took over from Brown's disaster, which he blamed on international economics without taking responsibility for his inability to respond after selling the gold reserves, liberal PPIs and reckless borrowing.

What do we have to expect after 4 July? Closer alignment with the EU, more unaccountable Quangos undermining an elected government, more 'equality and diversity' undermining equality of opportunity and individuality, closer ties with supranationals, higher taxes and more state monitoring and control. All with a mandate delivered from an electorate that wants the opposite 

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