The end of the state-shrinking dream

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

I’m old enough to remember when the libertarian right in the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) sang Tomorrow Belongs To Me. At the time it seemed all of a piece with the Hang Nelson Mandela posters and their other leftie-baiting antics. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight that we can see just how much tomorrow really did belong to them.

By the mid-1980s, the libertarians in the FCS had vanquished the other two factions, the moderates (or ‘Wets’) and the authoritarians, the traditional Powellite Monday Club right. Their combination of free-market economic policies and a degree of social liberalism was very much in tune with the zeitgeist. Despite some traditionalist authoritarian rhetoric, the  main emphasis of Conservative policies during the 1980s and 1990s was economic; deregulation, privatisation and weakening the unions. The period since has been characterised by what David Goodhart called the victory of the Two Liberalisms. George…

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