The priorities of the next Conservative Government will, of course, be to assist and oversee a recovery in the economy and the necessary sorting out of public spending and the public sector – reducing public spending commensurate to expected tax revenues.
Beyond addressing the substantial sheer wasted public expenditure, the main territory in need of radical reform is welfare spending, which under the Labour Government has changed from providing the necessary and desirable safety nets to a massive programme of in-work subsidy – designed to buy votes – but also entrapping millions of people in welfare dependency.
Running, in a sense, parallel to the social problems resulting from welfare dependency has been an astonishing erosion of ethical standards and personal responsibility from the bottom up to the top of society. The silent majority still do their best to bring up their children properly and instill in them good values, but for too many this is no longer the case. Parents do not marry, or get divorced thinking little about the impact of this on their children. The innate sense of duty and values which were instilled into me both at school and by my parents are ceasing to be the norm.
David Cameron has picked up part of the problem by focusing on both the need to support the family unit and the increasing problems of a broken society. But what I suggest is needed is a cultural counter-revolution in our education system. Children need to have instilled in them at school – particularly if they are not getting it from their home backgrounds – sound values, proper ethical standards and the need for personal responsibility. It is interesting to note that a majority of Muslims support the teaching of Christian ethics and values in our schools, which is the basis of Western civilisation.
In a different territory, technical advance is turning Britain into an ever more bureaucratic and authoritarian state and damaging our economic prospects. As Dr Eamonn Butler has discovered, Britain has a quarter of the world’s CCTV cameras watching us but achieving little; in just a year the police collected over 700,000 DNA samples of which half came from children; anti-terrorist legislation is being used by local authorities to spy on families; opening any financial account requires the tedious provision of utility bills and certified passports under anti-money laundering requirements, but achieving little or nothing to thwart terrorist financing. The burden of HIPs has hindered rather than helped the depressed housing market. Now we learn all our overseas travel is to be reported and recorded.
This Government has added 3,500 regulations per annum with 100,000 pages of rules and explanations. Much of all of this is sheer madness and imposes on citizens, employees and employers requirements and obligations with which they are simply not able to cope. We are committed to cancel the Government’s crack-pot identity card scheme but we will need to come up with the will to get rid of a great deal of other pointless bureaucratic impositions.