Of course, one can argue about whether the purposes are the right purposes for today's Britain. One can debate whether the proposed methods will achieve the intended purposes. One can discuss whether the direction is the right direction for Britain. But the one thing that cannot rationally be asserted is that there is either any paucity of policy or any absence of a consistent approach.
Today's Conservative Party may be right or it may be wrong, but it is absolutely undeniably "about" something.
But even this will not, I suspect, be sufficient to prevent people making the assertion that the policy box is empty — because the fashionable consensus can easily deal with the falsification of its hypothesis by moving on to a higher plain of sophistication. "Ah, yes," will say the proponents of this more sophisticated version of the fashionable thesis, "you Conservatives may once have put together a progressive, communitarian and de-bureaucratising programme, but that was then and this is now. A combination of Mr Brown and recession have now bust the public finances. You won't have the money to carry out your progressive conservative programme. So tell us, what you are going to do about that, then?"
At first sight, this sophisticated variant of the crude "you ain't got no policies" argument, looks attractive — especially if one squints a little, stands on one's head, and wears a pair of thick sunglasses.
But to anyone who cares to take off the sunglasses, stand the right way up and stop squinting, a little further inspection will reveal that the sophisticated "you ain't got no money" variant of the fashionable argument is as hollow as the crude version.
It is certainly true that the Green Paper proposals for fundamental reform will take time to bear fruit. Even the most enthusiastic proponent of the Conservative policy programme could not reasonably assert that schools, hospitals, the welfare system, the criminal justice system, the housing system, local governments and central government will improve out of all recognition overnight or that the Conservative reforms will immediately produce efficiencies great enough to solve our grotesque public sector deficit. But it can reasonably be asserted (because it is true) that each of the reforms has been carefully crafted to ensure that none requires additional funding at the start. And it is also true that one of the aims of each reform is progressively to reduce demands on the taxpayer. This is to be achieved partly through the progressive strengthening of social responsibility and partly through progressively increasing efficiency — engendered by increased transparency, increased accountability and increasingly liberated enterprise.
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