After listening to the various speeches at the 2013 Labour Party Conference this morning, I believe I have detected a theme running through almost all of them.
I don’t mean the usual Labour tunnel-vision and denial of their role in wrecking the British economy and increasing the size of the British state to freedom-crushing, unsustainable levels – that has already been well documented, on this blog and elsewhere.
Nor do I mean the incessant moralising, the endless strictures about how anyone who holds conservative views must be rich, heartless and hold the “common man” in contempt, or the assertions that skepticism about pooling national sovereignty and submitting to an ever-increasing burden of regulations emanating from the European Union somehow equates to a longing for isolationism and a desire to cut off trade and ties with with the world.
I refer instead to the mindset that for every problem, there is a government solution waiting to be proposed, seconded and carried at a Labour conference.
There has been an increase on the number of workers on zero-hour contracts in these tough economic times. Gasp! Outrage! Zero hour contracts must be inherently terrible, a product of evil British businesspeople who want to make money on the backs of the poor, and must be outlawed immediately.
A British soldier was violently beheaded in a terrorist attack on the streets of London. Outrage! We need new laws making it a specific offense to attack military personnel, because if only the general laws against beheading people had been supplemented by additional laws prohibiting the beheading of service members, this heinous crime would not have been committed.
Watching the Labour party assemble for their yearly conference is like observing a group of weary, jaded old codgers assemble in a meeting hall to bemoan the state of humanity, how far it has fallen, and what they must do to forcibly drag the rest of us back up to their lofty levels of enlightened tolerance and progressivism.
How thoroughly depressing it must be to perpetually think so little of the human capacity to do good that the only solutions you can ever imagine are found in new regulations preventing people from being themselves, and transferring agency from the free individual to the faceless, bureaucratic state.
And of course, the answer to the societal problems that Labour bemoan can never be found in reducing the power and scope of the state, or empowering individuals to take more responsibility for themselves. It is as though the Labour party is incapable of taking the laissez-faire, hands-off approach to the people that they rightly champion in the social realm and applying it to the economic realm.
And that’s a great shame, because I feel sure that increasingly, the real divide in British politics will not be between the traditional left vs right paradigm, but between people who see government as the answer to everything, and people who are heartily sick of not being able to live their lives freely without continual badgering and preachy interference. Right now, neither party is ideally positioned to capitalise on this shift, but if today’s conference speeches are anything to go by, Labour has much more ground to make up.