MAIL ON SUNDAY: PM's bold action finally offers us route to prosperity

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: The PM’s bold action finally offers us a route to prosperity

The Prime Minister, Liz Truss, writing in The Mail on Sunday today, makes a basic Conservative point: ‘People know better than any government what to do with their hard-earned money.’

It is astonishing that this needs to be restated so often, but it is the key division in all politics. Does the State exist to boss people around, to tell them how best to spend their earnings – and to take it from them to ensure that they do what the ruling elite wants? Or should our rulers do the utmost to liberate and encourage the talents and energy of all, so that our society becomes prosperous and so able to afford the key spending which makes civilisation possible?

Once, this was glaringly obvious. The world could see the contrast between the US, where people largely kept their own money and the State was happy with that, and the USSR, where the State controlled almost everything.

The outcome was in many ways the opposite of what the Left preached and expected. In the USSR a tiny elite lived lives of secret luxury while the supposedly pampered masses put up with miserable housing, crumbling infrastructure and low wages.

The Prime Minister, Liz Truss, writing in The Mail on Sunday today, makes a basic Conservative point: ‘People know better than any government what to do with their hard-earned money’ 

In the US, the general level of prosperity was higher, and standards of living far better. Since the USSR then collapsed into chaos and poverty, you would think that the argument would be settled. But since the 1990s, a revived Left has continued to push for high state spending, heavy taxation and fierce redistribution, claiming moral superiority as it does so. It has not worked on its own terms, and it has not brought the levels of economic growth this country needs.

By a curious process, even some Tory politicians have in recent decades been browbeaten into accepting large parts of the socialist message, especially that the only way to fairness is through heavy taxation and spending and huge state intervention. Liz Truss is not one of them. And last week she and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, did a brave and creditable thing. Following her decisive victory in the Tory leadership contest, they resolved that the moment had come for equally decisive action. They moved to restate a Tory principle, which was also a practical plan to revive and energise the economy.

Inevitably, this has come under widespread attack from all the factions who think that they know better how to spend our money than we do. Of course, they claim to be worried about risks to the economy – as if their own policies have not for many years shackled and restricted growth and discouraged enterprise. But what really worries them is the significant and lasting transfer of power from the State to the individual that is involved. 

Liz Truss has vowed to unleash a ‘decade of dynamism’ as she defended Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s Budget on Friday against criticism of tax cuts for higher earners

Once people get used to keeping the fruits of their labours, it will be much harder for a future government of the Left to take them away again. No doubt there are risks involved. The Prime Minister knows that. But there are equally grave risks involved in leaving things as they have been. The Thatcher era taught us that bold action of this kind can revive Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit and lead to great prosperity.

It also taught us that such policies are almost invariably opposed by the people who think that they are the great and the good. That is why the Premier says in her article that she and her Chancellor will be unapologetic in the face of fashionable criticism.

What is for sure is that the chance of success is better by far if we all, as a nation, seek to rise to the opportunity we have been given.

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