“To the socialists of all parties (to whom F.A. Hayek dedicated ‘The Road to Serfdom’), ‘The Constitution of Liberty’ is anathema. Hayek, they believe, stands for an atomised society full of selfish individuals all looking after their own interests. But nobody who has read the original texts could possibly represent him this way.
“One person who understood this was Margaret Thatcher. Once during a party policy meeting a speaker started to argue that the Conservative Party should adopt a pragmatic middle way. According to John Ranelagh in ‘Thatcher’s People’, “Before he had finished speaking.. the new Party Leader reached into her briefcase and took out a book. It was Friedrich von Hayek’s ‘The Constitution of Liberty’. Interrupting, she held the book up for all of us to see. ‘This,’ she said sternly, ‘is what we believe,’ and banged Hayek down on the table.”
Difficult, somehow, to imagine David Cameron (or Ed Miliband, for that matter) banging any sort of book down at a policy meeting as a statement of belief – unless it happens to be on the topic of public relations. That is the measure of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Regardless of whether you liked or loathed her policies, today’s crop of aspirant statesmen in the British parliament look like pygmies by comparison. Where are our conviction politicians ? This matters, because as ‘The Economist’ pointed out last week, in a world desperately in need of growth,
“the pendulum is swinging
dangerously away from the principles Mrs. Thatcher espoused. In most of the
rich world, the state’s share of the economy has grown sharply in recent years.
Regulations – excessive, as well as necessary – are tying up the private
sector. Demonstrators protest against the very existence of the banking
industry. And with the rise of China, state control, not economic liberalism,
is being hailed as a model for emerging countries.”
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