It’s our time
The era of laissez-faire small government is over. Now we can start fixing the big problems the market can’t solve.
Suddenly only the power of government can save us – and most of the world agrees. How oddly that idea clashes with the prevailing political mood in Britain in the last few years. Until Lehmann Brothers crashed out of the sky and the world turned upside down, big government was becoming increasingly unfashionable and the idea of the strong central state was under attack from all sides.
Meanwhile a second anti-state battleground had opened up, as libertarians of right and left attacked the government for Big Brother-like interference with the privacy and freedoms of the citizen. Labour’s plans to introduce identity cards, to allow police to hold terrorist suspects without trial for 42 days and the widespread use of CCTV cameras in public places were seen by conspiracy theorists as sinister encroachments on ancient civil liberties.
Now the credit crunch and the prospect of a prolonged slump have changed everything. The government borrows billions to rescue the banks that once complained about state regulation. Businesses large and small beg for state help with cash. They need government to intervene to force the banks to lend at good rates. Property owners need rescuing before their homes are repossessed. Only the state can create new jobs in green industries to reduce the numbers of unemployed.