This is the first conservative article I have seen in the Daily Telegraph for some time. It's written by a Labour MP from the North of England's socialist heartlands. I am stunned, frankly. Were we libertarians to write of
"...the insatiable greed of the state in all its manifestations to take the people's money for its own, often incompetent and counter-productive ends..."
and propose drastic spending cuts to allow taxes to be reduced so that ordinary people can fulfil
"their cherished plans to spend their own money as they see fit "
the mumsy wing of the Conservative Party would accuse us of "fantasy politics". McShane's article contains the following amazing passage, which expresses sentiments many of us feel, but had lost hope of hearing expressed by our politicians;
"I do not know of a single minister who privately does not despair at the waste of money on pointless projects, publications, or legions of press officers that add no value. The taxpayer has given more than £1 billion of aid to India, even though that great country has more billionaires and millionaires than Britain and runs its own well-financed development aid programme. I was baffled as Europe minister to be told I had to waste 90 minutes being quizzed by a consultant when the kindly but shrewd tea ladies in King Charles Street knew what needed to be done. How much was paid to the consultant? What happened to his report? No one in Whitehall knows or cares. When I suggested using easyJet to cut flying costs in Europe, fellow ministers and senior officials looked at me as if I had left a nasty mess on their doorstep.
Can I be the only MP outraged that town clerks - even dressed up with fancy titles such as chief executive - can now get paid £200,000 plus for running rubbish collection services in small towns? Labour prides itself on filling Tony Blair's promise to bring NHS spending up to European levels. But as Hugh Bayley, MP for York and a former minister, says: "If you increase health expenditure without increasing the supply of health services you simply fuel NHS inflation." Bayley had the fatal flaw of being a leading health economist before he became an MP and so did not last long as a minister. His kind of can-do delivery style never fitted in with the Paul Smith suits that pullulated in New Labour's higher reaches."
Crewe & Nantwich was clearly a bigger turning point in British politics than we thought. Labour is in such a panic, that some of its MPs are resorting to common sense in a desperate attempt to hold onto their seats. I am sure Mr McShane and I agree on little else, but I thank him. He may have begun to move our political discourse out of the parallel universe in which it has been conducted for the past decade. Now, if only the Conservative Party will rejoin the real world...