Free Life 16, April 1992, Editorial: Not Better, Only not Much Worse, by Sean Gabb

From Free Life, Issue 16, April 1992
ISSN: 0260 5112

NOT BETTER: ONLY NOT MUCH WORSE

Of course, the British election result has pleased me, as it must have most members of the tax-paying class. We have been spared the disgusting ordeal of a Labour Government. Our taxes will not be put up. The House of Lords will not be abolished, nor the unions with Scotland and Northern Ireland endangered. We shall not at once be absorbed into the emerging European superstate. In as firm a manner as could reasonably be expected, the public has turned down the specious promises of Neil Kinnock and those behind him; and he has been revealed as less the saviour of the British left than the froth on the lips of a dying ideology.

For this, we may rightly give thanks in whatever manner we think appropriate.

Nevertheless, we must not let ourselves believe that all is well with the country, or that just one more term of Conservative rule will make it so. For all is not well. We live under one of the most gigantic and gigantically expensive governments that the world has ever known. It absorbs nearly half the national wealth. In one way or another, it regulates every moment of our waking lives. It sets the conditions under which we may employ or be employed. It has a right of veto over how we build and decorate our homes. It tells us what we may and may not eat, drink, inject, inhale, read, write, look at, listen to, wear, and plug into the mains. It even tries to limit where, when, with whom and in what manner we please to have sex.

It has also in recent years – and especially since 1979 – begun to circumscribe where not to abolish rights that had been possessed without question in this country for centuries. The right to trial by jury, for example, has become decreasingly relevant to our actual system of criminal justice; and matters of fact in most cases are now decided by a class of men notoriously subservient to the Police and other State authorities. Again, the rules against compelled self-crimination have been progressively softened, and the burden of proof in many instances has been reversed.

Still again, while our lives remain as yet inviolate, our liberty and property have become decidedly less secure. Since 1984, the Police have had the right to arrest and hold us without charge for as long as four days; and only at their discretion may we seek legal advice or tell our friends and relations where we are. Since the same year, they have had the right to remove property from our homes without first going to the trouble of seeking a warrant. Since 1990, indeed, the Home Secretary has been able to issue warrants to have our homes burgled; and we are specifically forbidden to question the validity of these warrants in the ordinary courts of law.

Anyone who believes the claim repeatedly made during the election campaign, that the Conservative Party stands for individual freedom, is a fool. It does not. To be sure, it contains a small minority of people who do believe in freedom. It also believes in a timid scheme of free market reform. Beyond that, it is a party of authoritarian social democrats. It has so far given us 13 years of the most despotic government since the reign of James II; and I have no doubt that it will now give us at least five years more.

Even so, I give thanks for this. Bad as they are, the Tories are in every respect better than Labour. Their plan of national ruin is less fast, less radical. It will end in neither military coup nor foreign intervention. Above all, they show far more regard for the form of a free constitution. And, optimist though I doubtless sound, the longer the form may be preserved, the greater the chance that eventually the substance may be restored.

We shall see.

Sean Gabb

© 1992 – 2017, seangabb.

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