Amid growing signs of turmoil in the Labour camp, Alistair Darling, the chancellor, yesterday insisted that a hung parliament posed no risk to the recovery. 'It’s utter tosh that it’s bad for the economy', he told The Sunday Times. 'Take Germany. They have had a hung parliament since the second world war, and they manage to organise themselves.'What an unwittingly revealing statement! Darling is a senior member of a party dedicated to the proposition that the people of Britain are incapable of organising themselves without being coerced by the state.
There is some truth in that perception. Even under National Socialism, the Germans showed a far greater ability to organise themselves than the British. But they only became a nation state in 1870, and 'localism' was in their collective political DNA.
I suspect the reason why Cameron's big idea about devolving power downwards has not caught on is that most of the British either do not understand or actively reject the concept of taking responsibility for their lives. I also suspect that while it is relatively easy to erode liberty, it is extremely difficult - and may be impossible - to force people to be free.
As I blogged previously - Thatcher led the horse to water, but the nag refused to drink. I can see nothing in the behaviour of the British since then to suggest that their fear of freedom and its attendant responsibilities has in any way abated. To the contrary - their supine acceptance of the gradual surrender of representative government and Common Law to the EU, the erosion of freedom of speech, of trial by jury and the ease with which a manifestly communist 'equality' agenda has been imposed, all argue that they are quite content to live without the freedoms that once made British society distinctive.
For such a society, a hung parliament would be a disaster. But then again, the only likely majority party professes to be determined not to offer the 'stamp of firm government' with which the British people, for all their chronic bitching about the inadequacy of their leaders, are most comfortable.
I sincerely hope I am wrong, but contemporary Britain does seem to prove the truth of the Jeffersonian adage, drawn from his study of the corruption and decline of the Greek and Roman civilisations, that a people without virtue cannot long be free.