JP Floru is the Director of Programmes at the Adam Smith Institute.
When money is short reality kicks in. A few years ago people were flush with cash and didn’t mind spending more on health and education. They duly elected Tony Blair. Labour came, spent, and departed in ignominy. Nothing improved, but the cash is gone. Strapped-for-cash households all over Britain wonder where it went – and turn their backs on the big government policies which many politicians from both the left and the right still feel compelled to defend.
65% of people do not want more redistribution by government. 54% say unemployment is high because benefits are too generous. 63% say that child poverty is the result of parents not wanting to work. Only 31% support tax increase to spend more on health and education. The National Centre for Social Research’s latest British Social Attitudes Report must have caused some gasps among Guardian readers and assorted BBC journalists. Left wing media all over the UK have spent the day inventing misleading headlines to hide what this survey really tells us: that collectivism is OUT. Middle England joins Ronald Reagan, in stating, loud and clear: “The state is not the solution. It is the problem”.
Politicians always aim for the centre ground, in the hope of harvesting votes from both the left and the right. The astute ones notice when the centre ground shifts to the left or the right. He who correctly identifies where the centre ground has moved to wins elections – he who still targets yesterday’s centre ground loses. The 2010 election result was highly significant in that respect.
Which party will correctly identify where the centre ground has moved to, and consequently win the next general election? At present, it is still impossible to tell.