Cameron-Clegg: Setting Libertarian Hearts Aflutter

Friday, September 24th, 2010

After setting out a promising agenda of government cuts and restoration of civil liberties (“a bonfire of unnecessary laws”!), then launching a website where Brits could make yet more suggestions on how to roll back the U.K. Nanny State, the Cameron-Clegg coalition government is moving toward actual implementation.

And how.

One hundred and seventy-seven taxpayer-funded bodies are to be abolished under Coalition plans seen by The Daily Telegraph.

A further 94 are still under threat of being scrapped, four will be privatised and 129 will be merged, according to a Cabinet Office list compiled this week, while 350 other bodies have won a reprieve.

The list discloses for the first time the extent of David Cameron’s plans for the “bonfire of the quangos”, designed to save the taxpayer billions of pounds. Thousands of jobs will go as part of the reforms…

However, ministers will point to the billions of pounds that are likely to be saved after the number of taxpayer-funded quangos soared under Labour to cost an estimated £65 billion a year and employ more than 100,000 people.

A senior Whitehall source said: “These reforms represent the most significant rolling back of bureaucracy and the state for decades. Our starting point has been that every quango must not only justify its existence but its reliance on public money.”

This is the closest thing we libertarians get to porn this side of . . . well . . . actual porn.

Hats off to David Cameron and Nick Clegg. The phrase “left and right setting aside their differences and coming together to get things done” usually forebodes a disastrous expansion of government reach and power. It’s almost miraculous to see the two sides embracing—rather than shedding—their limited government tendencies upon assuming power.

Anyone know where I can get a “Daniels-Feingold 2012” bumper sticker?

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41 Responses to “Cameron-Clegg: Setting Libertarian Hearts Aflutter”

  1. #1 |  Brandon | 

    Meanwhile, Obama continues to claim that his only failure has been properly communicating how wonderful Obama is. Maybe the revolution wasn’t such a great idea after all.

  2. #2 |  SJE | 

    The “liberal” party in the UK is liberal more in the classic sense, which is to say libertarian, especially on social issues. (Similarly, the conversative party in Australia is the “Liberal Party”).

  3. #3 |  TDR | 

    To this post (and Radley’s proper sexual reference), I say: schwing!

  4. #4 |  perlhaqr | 

    Dude. That’s impressive.

    Now, if they couple it with immediate tax refunds, to give the populus a taste of what they’re benefitting by cutting these things… You might see some real progress.

  5. #5 |  Tom G | 

    This sounds wonderful…but I have seen rumors of a proposal floated by Inland Revenue to have paychecks sent directly to the government. I’m still optimistic about Nick Clegg, but like any other government, you have to keep tabs on EVERYTHING they want to do. I’m taking a “wait and see, I’ll believe positive change when I see it accomplished” approach.

  6. #6 |  Derfel Cadarn | 

    Dare we hope that our up coming elections will render unto us this blessing of government sanity. Woe be to the politicians here if they fail to deliver,the Homer Simpsons have finally had enough. Remember the power is derived from We The People.

  7. #7 |  JS | 


  8. #8 |  JS | 

    You notice all these libertarian ideas are starting to make themselves felt? That is really encouraging!

  9. #9 |  DarkEFang | 

    If the UK continues down this path, it might have to be the backup plan in case the Sarah Palin-Tea Party-Dominionists get a hold of real political power here.

  10. #10 |  Mattocracy | 

    The real variable in this is that England has more than two parties forcing a coalition between two of them. We need Libertarians in office if this kind of thing is gonna shake down on this side of the pond.

  11. #11 |  Daze | 

    I’d lean towards Daniels-Frank, but love the idea all the same.

  12. #12 |  Tom G | 

    If we are talking wishful 2012 bumper stickers, my vote would be Johnson-Feingold. That’s assuming you are just including R’s and D’s.

  13. #13 |  James K | 

    The whole thing seems so bizarre. I know from my own country’s experience (New Zealand) that governments will cut spending … once they run out of money entirely. But for a government to slam on the brakes before they dive off the cliff? It actually gives me some small hope for the future.

    Now let’s see if they can make it stick.

  14. #14 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Airstrip One is usually the proving ground for US policy.

    It will be interesting to see if these reforms (that’s all they are) wend their way westward.

  15. #15 |  GregS | 

    You see here one of the differences between the British parliamentary and the U.S. congressional political systems. In both countries, statism advances when governments and the public wants it. But in the British system, when the public and government wants to reduce statism, the system can achieve that too. The American system, by contrast, cannot shrink government. The system works like a ratchet, where movement in one direction (growth of government) is quite easy, while movement in the other (rolling back government) is nearly impossible.

  16. #16 |  SJE | 

    GregS: I disagree. Big changes are generally more difficult in the US system.

    The big statist “reforms” of FDR were only possible once the same party controlled both Congress and the White House, and were still opposed by the Supreme Court. FDR threatened to stack the court, resulting in a more compliant judiciary.

    Undoing all of that should have been possible under Bush II: he controlled both houses, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency. However, the GOP was more interested in wars, religion, drugs and porn.

  17. #17 |  Matthew | 

    This gives me more boners than ninjas do.

  18. #18 |  qwints | 

    The parliamentary system certainly lends the governmnet more power to do anything than our system of government. There’s not much a prime minister with a solid majority can’t do in the UK. In theory, this should mean that the US should see much slower increases and decreases in the size of government as was intended. Unfortunately, the creation and delegation of power to a rulemaking bureaucracy has led to incredible increase in government power unchecked even by elections.

  19. #19 |  JThompson | 

    @Mattocracy: Or Greens, or NLs, or practically any third party. Once one third party finally breaks into the system, the floodgates will open and it’ll be a free for all.
    It’s one of the things both parties agree on wholeheartedly: Dissent must be crushed and the status quo maintained at all costs.

  20. #20 |  SJE | 

    Qwints: the rest of the Western world also has a vast rulemaking bureaucracy. Its a factor, but not an excuse. In fact, this is one of the first things Cameron-Clegg are doing: cutting various rule-making bureaucracies. Of course, the ability to change is a function not only of the structure of the government, but also the national character. Thus, while people blamed the strong bureaucracy for the inability of Japan to undergo serious reform, 20 years later people realize it was at least as much a function of the leaders and the people who elected them. Leadership is important. John Howard in Australia introduced a huge number of conservative reforms, like Margaret Thatcher did in the UK. Bush II, OTOH, was on vacation.

  21. #21 |  JS | 

    Matthew “This gives me more boners than ninjas do.”

    See now that’s the kind of political analysis I can understand!

  22. #22 |  N2 | 

    I wish I could be as optimistic as the rest of you guys, but I don’t see any of these proposed reforms getting implemented. Public sector workers in the UK are perhaps even more coddled and connected as those here. Check in again three months after the first of those 100,000 bureaucrats are actually laid off and see if the Cameron-Clegg coallition is still in power.

  23. #23 |  TomG | 

    JThompson @19: Check out the “Debate Sponsorship” section near the bottom of this entry –

    It explains (in brief) the tight-fisted control the 2 main parties have over the presidential debates.

  24. #24 |  MassHole | 

    Facing the capital building in DC:

    “You see assholes!!!!! It’s not that hard!!!!!”

  25. #25 |  Elemenope | 

    If we are talking wishful 2012 bumper stickers, my vote would be Johnson-Feingold.

    Seconded with relish.

  26. #26 |  André | 

    Thanks Radley, I had been expecting as nut punch.

  27. #27 |  André | 

    A nut punch. Stupid keyboard.

  28. #28 |  perlhaqr | 

    Are you guys talking about the same Feingold who with Senator McLame gutted the 1st Amendment? ’cause, I’m down with Johnson, but fuck Feingold. (And fuck McCain too, while I’m handing out the profanity.)

  29. #29 |  Elemenope | 

    Are you guys talking about the same Feingold who with Senator McLame gutted the 1st Amendment?

    I oppose campaign finance restrictions too, but to call the McCain-Feingold act “gutting the 1st amendment” is a bit strong.

    And beyond that, nobody’s perfect. Waiting around for perfect exemplars of your personal political predilections ends only when either:

    1. you die
    2. you run for office yourself

  30. #30 |  perlhaqr | 

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    It cuts across three of the five listed, that seems pretty hefty to me.

    But all right, I’m willing to provisionally accept the prospect that though “not perfect” (and by my lights, not by a long shot) he’s still worthy of respect and laudation for office; What stances doth Russ hold that counteract this blot on his character and record as a sworn upholder of the Constitution?

  31. #31 |  cziltang | 

    I was suitably impressed when I read about this this morning at The Register until I got to the last line of the article: “Many of the quangos supposedly disappearing will really just be brought back within the government department which oversees their work.”

    Now, that may or may not be true, but it seems plausible, and much more likely than actually eliminating anything; the Government gets to claim a savings, gets to look like they are addressing a problem, and then has to increase funding to remaining departments and no actual government employees lose their jobs. Sounds like a win, win, win, win for Cameron-Clegg to me.

    I hope The Register is wrong, but I guess we’ll see soon enough.

  32. #32 |  Elemenope | 

    What stances doth Russ hold that counteract this blot on his character and record as a sworn upholder of the Constitution?

    You can start with him being the ONLY senator to vote against PATRIOT Act I, and the senator who led the charge to (mostly successfully) eviscerate PATRIOT Act II. If that doesn’t give one street cred, I don’t know what does.

  33. #33 |  HSS | 

    I agree that his vote against the Patriot Act was badass, and made me proud to be a Wisconsinite. I just wish he had been as contrarian when voting on Obamacare. I’m not at all surprised at his vote of course, but I think that anybody with that much ignorance (or apathy) towards the laws of supply and demand needs to go.

  34. #34 |  TomG | 

    HSS @30 – unfortunately, most senators have the same ignorance of the laws of supply and demand. Finding an above average Senator of either party is not easy.
    Some other positives in Feingold’s Wikipedia entry are: voted against the authorization to use force in Iraq, introduced and pushed for a resolution to censure Bush for illegal wiretapping, seems to support legalization of gay marriage, and he is the most frugal Senator as far as his own office’s expenses.
    In short, we could do worse.

  35. #35 |  jrb | 

    I like what I’ve seen from the Cameron-Clegg coalition so far, but I still have the ‘wait and see’ attitide.

    I’m still going to have a Cthulhu bumper sticker for 2012. Why would I want to vote for a lesser evil?

  36. #36 |  Cornellian | 

    Quango = quasi autonomous non-governmental organization. See, e.g., the brilliant Yes, Minister sitcom episode, “Jobs for the Boys.”

  37. #37 |  croaker | 

    @1 At this point I would say that any revolution that does not involve the former leaders hanging from lamp posts is not a great idea.

  38. #38 |  croaker | 

    @5 Not a rumor

  39. #39 |  jrb | 

    Is it OK if we use telephone poles instead? Some areas out in the hinterlands don’t have lamp posts.

  40. #40 |  SJE | 

    I’ll bring the tar, you bring the feathers

  41. #41 |  Leon Wolfeson | 


    These are not the politicians you’re looking for. They’re dismantling all but a very few of the bodies which ensured transparency in the political process, and most of the regulatory functions are *not going away*, they’re being transferred from a small, cost-efficient office (most of the bodies cost single-figure millions per year to run, and in most cases have minimal government funding, charging fees to users) which liaised with experts in the field into the hands of a big, unaccountable and monolithic government department where civil servants with no interest or knowledge in the field will be making the decisions.

    This is radically reducing accountability and taking decisions AWAY from what were, in many cases, user-funded services and rolling them into big government.