Power and responsibility

These are extracts from John Major's Spectator lecture last night:

"Moral" is a word I usually prefer to leave to the Church but it is apt for what I intend to say. For example, is it moral to take from individuals the right to make personal decisions? I think not. Is it moral to impose obligations on employers like the Social Chapter and the minimum wage that will cost jobs and prevent those without jobs from getting them? Again, I think not. Is it moral to compulsorily take too much tax from people for government to spend and diminish individual choices? My answer is no.

Smaller government fits with a belief in individual freedom and choice - still one of the basic divides in British politics.

I start from the presumption that government should not interfere and meddle where it is not needed - the belief that power, choice and responsibility should, wherever possible, be left with individuals and their families, with entrepreneurs and businesses.

I don't want my personal choices made for me by the state. Nor do most people. Nor is it necessary. The British people are better able to order their lives effectively than the most efficient and humane of governments. "Trust the People" is an old Conservative battle cry. It must be central to our future policies.

We aim to regulate less of people's lives. We trust people to spend their money, or save it, or give it, and to do so sensibly. We don't believe most people are selfish or greedy. And we think they can be trusted to exercise those instincts themselves - not to have them exercised on the people's behalf by men in Whitehall who claim to know better.

So we aim to tax and spend an ever smaller share of what people earn. To reduce and, in due course, abolish capital taxation. I want to do that because it makes good economic sense; it ends a penalty on enterprise and investment; it will release capital and create jobs. And that is the right thing to do. There is a moral case for low taxation if you genuinely want to see growing prosperity and more employment.

And it is that moral view, just as much as the economics, that leads me to the conviction that the state should progressively disengage and do less - but that what it does it should do well. Indeed, I believe that by doing less it is more likely to do better.

Underlying socialism, democratic socialism - or even social democracy - is a set of instincts that favours state control. Where there is a choice it is always to be exercised in favour of the state, and too often by the state.

It's those instincts that lead to high-spend, high-tax policies, and to ever more regulation. They may be dressed up in the name of better public services. But underlying them is a confident belief that the Government knows better how to spend your money than you do -that government control can produce better outcomes than free choice.

We still have much to do. We are only half way through our programme. But the direction in which the Government wants to go is towards more choice, more information, more accountability.

News
i100
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Sport
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis