Sunday, November 13, 2005

I'd love to hear a politician say: 'We'll get the second-best minds together on this'

THE BRITISH CONSERVATIVE Party is looking for a saviour, which is understandable - it needs one. But can either of the two Davids, Cameron or Davis, save the Tories? Personally, I'm a Davis man. He's my kind of guy. He's the one who educated himself. It doesn't take much to do what Cameron did, which is to get a good education at the best private school in the country. Davis managed to get himself educated at a lousy state school. That takes commitment.

Cameron appeared on Today and answered the usual question about what he was going to do about some terrible social problem with: "We're going to bring the best minds to solve this one." That was the moment when he lost me. The guy obviously doesn't understand the fundamental truth about politics, which is that the best minds only produce disasters. Scientists, for example, are famously idiots when it comes to politics. I agree with Friedrich Hayek, who said in The Road to Serfdom that the "worst imaginable world would be one in which the leading expert in each field had total control over it".

Just once, I'd love to hear a politician say: "We're going to bring the second-best minds together to work on this." The second-best minds are all much more practical people than the first-class guys. More importantly, they are not going to try to do anything very much. They'll fix lunch or take the dog for a walk before they get on to pressing political problems of the day - and by the time lunch is over, it's time to take the dog for another walk and prepare dinner. That's the right order of political priorities. The greatest danger in politics is people who try to do things.

The Conservative Party used to be the party of not doing very much, or at most of only doing things which scaled back government programmes. Conservatives wanted to take government out of people's lives and reduce how much government took from their pockets. But recently, under the influence of Tony Blair, they have started saying that they're no longer the party of cutting back on government: they're really the party of using government to give people things.

This is a mistake.

Continue here (The Telegraph, 13 November 2005).