We are going to have to make the argument again – and again and again. No matter how many times we appear to have won the day, the tireless lobbies whose own career interests, or ideological fervour, or political power are under threat simply wear us down.So here we go: politicians are not superior beings, okay? They are not more morally righteous, or in possession of better judgement, than the majority of the electorate, right? That is something on which we are likely to agree. In fact, it is something with which roughly 99 per cent of the population would probably agree.
So why are so many of us apparently prepared to accept that a politician’s decision about how our money should be spent, or our schools should be run, or our hospitals should be administered is inherently virtuous? Whereas, decisions about those things made by private individuals – whether as providers or consumers – are automatically wicked.
The whole ridiculous thing cropped up again last week when Liz Truss was forced to defend the idea of “free schools”. What an absurd thing to have to defend: in a free country, what should schools be other than “free”? Un-free? No, the opposite of “free” in this case is “government-owned and run” which is the equivalent in the perverse terms of the Left, and their special-interest front groups, to “without taint”. That is, the taint of individual choice, personal initiative, and self-determination – all of which are deeply sinister because some people are better at them than others. Therefore they are socially divisive and lead to inequality.
In other words, the very fact of some parents having the desire and determination to create a school which they believe will suit their children better than the state-operated ones, constitutes a form of political injustice because some other parents do not have the desire and the determination to do the same. Put like that, doesn’t it sound stupid? And more than stupid, it sounds totalitarian: you have no right to be more conscientious and ambitious for your children than anyone else because that, in itself, is a kind of privilege.
Believe it or not there are people who actually say this: if all parents are not similarly equipped with the capacity and the fortitude to invent, or even actively to seek out, a school they believe will suit their offspring, then no parents should be permitted to do so. (The same argument is applied to parental choice as to the more radical “free schools” concept: the freedom to choose is pernicious because only some parents will make good use of it.)