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A Lesson in Politics from Across the Pond

Dr. Eammon Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute — one of the UK’s oldest and best known think tanks — has written a scathing critique of the current British government. The Rotten State of Britain could provide a template for the U.S. Republicans in opposition, and possibly help them combat the socialist policies of the Obama administration and the Pelosi-run House of Representatives.

In his book, Butler describes the country’s deterioration under the Labor government — now led by Gordon Brown — from personal freedom and taxation to the most basic National Health Service (NHS) provisions. Although many of the problems began under former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Butler explains how they have accelerated under the current prime minister. He eviscerates Labor’s constant arguments that Britain’s current woes are due to the previous Conservative government (the Conservatives left government a dozen years ago.) This may explain why the mainstream UK media has shown no interest in Butler’s publication. While the BBC’s political programs thoroughly covered a similar book (The State We’re In by Will Hutton), that book denounced the policies of the former Conservative government.

The British bureaucracy was once capably run by experienced civil servants, but now there are party apparatchiks who have taken to meddling in the hopes of ensuring that every government activity meets with the Labor plan for Britain. Ironically, all those things that were criticized by Labor in opposition have been ramped up under Labor. The centralization of governance, politicization of the civil service, dogmatic policies, and corruption are all far worse under Labor than they were under the Conservatives.

The crumbling of the UK’s economy, infrastructure, and place in the world reveals Labor’s race to repeat the disasters of its 1970’s government: the near bankruptcy of the country, the falling pound, and rising inflation. Similarly, in the U.S., there are indications that President Barack Obama seems keen to repeat the mistaken policies of the Carter administration.

Butler’s book is both enlightening and wholly depressing for those of us who generally admire the United Kingdom. New Labor promised much only to deliver far worse than their predecessors. Their idealist view of politics did not reflect reality and their subsequent attempts to warp reality have resulted in situations varying from the laughable to the dangerous.

While Butler does not recommend the proposed Conservative solutions to New Labor, he does offer sage advice to a future government willing to consider his ideas. If Conservatives were to adopt his plan as their next manifesto, they might have a chance of sorting out the current mess. His advice encompasses many elements that would work well in the United States, too. A budding 2012 Republican presidential candidate could profit by reading this book and using Butler’s ideas to combat the socialist bias already evident in the Obama administration. The sections entitled “Reasserting our legal rights,” “Stopping heavy handed bank regulation,” “Getting working again,” “Health,” “Making welfare work,” and the all important “Power back to the people” resonate on this side of the Atlantic.

It is clear that the Obama administration looks to Europe, and specifically to the UK, for socialist ideas. The policies Obama is touting will result in much the same mess that the UK Labor government finds itself in following 12 years in office. Obama’s spending plans are no more sustainable than the Labor government’s unprecedented spending. Indeed, under current economic conditions, Obama is tempering his spending plans. For now.

While policies put forth by right leaning governments range from the “Blue Dog Democrat” to the Cato Institute-inspired laissez faire flat-tax of Estonia, the goals of socialists are the same worldwide. They are anti-capitalist, pro-government intervention, pro-large government, pro-high taxes, and in favor of the creation of an entrenched and protected political class. Once the socialist tax money flow is in place, it needs a brave government leader to staunch the flow. The first requirement is a good plan to withstand the outcry and panic, which will spring up from those benefiting most from government largesse and increased power.

We can thank Dr. Eammon Butler for beginning the quest for rational solutions which will reverse the socialist drift. Maybe, just maybe, Republicans can heed the lessons from the UK experience and develop a strategy to reverse the policies of the Democratic Party.