Many people who do not share the modern consensus that government is now full of such bright and talented people that it thoroughly deserves its power to regulate us down to the underpants have tended to look benignly on Ukip in recent years. For all its faults, old-fashioned classical liberals and even some on the Old Left have tacitly cheered the burgeoning success of the party, and been attracted to its carefully cultivated image as a kind of Peasant’s Revolt against an aristocratic political class which, bereft of any motivating ideology, has drifted into the assumption that politics is a kind of managerial profession – a prestigious rival to law and finance for the most talented graduates, offering them the opportunity to spend their careers using the state’s tools of compulsion to direct the lives and fortunes of other people – not to any particular end, mark you, but simply because that is what government is for.
Indeed, this Peasant’s Revolt is against something far worse than a feudal aristocracy of Wat Tyler’s day: as CS Lewis once wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” Read more
“I doubt if history can show, in any country, at any time, a more greedy form of government than democracy as practised in Great Britain in the last fifty years… The common man has held the voting power, and the common man has voted consistently to increase his own standard of living, regardless of the wider interests of his children, regardless of the wider interests of his country… No despot, no autocratic monarch in his pride and greed has injured England so much as the common man. Every penny that could be wrung out of the nation has been devoted to raising the standard of living of the least competent elements in the country, who have held the voting power. No money has been left for generous actions by Great Britain, or for overseas investment, or for the re-equipment of our industry at home, and the politicians who have come to power through this system of voting have been irresponsible and ill-informed, on both sides of the House.”
So wrote Nevil Shute in 1953, having shrewdly legged it to Australia three years before. This passage appears in a novel set in the 1980s – then a generation in the future – in which he imagined Britain as a doomed socialist craphole being sneered at by its more prosperous sister nations, Canada and Australia, who were encouraging the Queen with word and gesture to do a Nevil Shute and sneak off to the Dominions, implying that she might leave a note pinned to the throne saying, “Call me when you’re fit for human consumption.” Read more