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December 26, 2004
British Conservatives Get Serious About Smaller Government

In a move that reminds one of the Reagan Era in American politics, the British Conservative Party has emphasized its mission to reduce the size of government in the United Kingdom. It plans on starting at the top:

The Conservatives will cut the number of MPs, ministers and special advisers by a fifth within five years if they win the election.

Proposals for a "smaller government" Bill, to be published this week, will also promise a referendum in Wales on whether to abolish its assembly.

The Tories said yesterday that Labour's constitutional changes had made the country "over-governed, over-regulated and over-taxed".

The rejection by referendum this year of Government plans for a regional assembly in the North East has encouraged the Tories to put plans for reducing the size and role of the state at the heart of their election manifesto.

When the Republicans began their long, slow march to power in the 1980s, they preached the value of smaller government, and not just for cost reduction. Smaller government also has less reach into our personal decisions, allowing greater individual liberty and an unfettered economy to raise the standard of living across all strata. Unfortunately, along the way the GOP lost sight of the goal in its effort to reach the apex of their political momentum. While the GOP still offers more in reduction of regulation than the Democrats, they've hardly proved themselves significantly better than Democrats at reducing the federal government's size or budget.

The British Conservatives intend on putting their money where their mouth is. Reducing Parliament represents the ultimate in government reduction. It means less expense to British taxpayers, both directly and indirectly; less hands means less pork, after all. It also has the effect of concentrating power in fewer hands, a sword which cuts both ways. More interestingly, the Conservatives have also promised to cut the number of "special advisers", political staffers that amount to little more than patronage -- whose numbers have grown significantly under Labour's governance.

The Conservatives have been out of power for years in the UK. In the face of the monstrous bureaucracy that the EU threatens to become, the message of "less is more" may well attract British voters and give the Tories the toehold they need to compete in the next election. If successful, perhaps they will also inspire the GOP to return to the original mission that Republicans promised twenty years ago.

UPDATE: Er, United Kingdom, not United Nations. (Hat tip: Ric Locke.)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 26, 2004 9:08 PM

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