The Tories could simply abolish entire government departments that the ‘man in the street’ really does not give a damn about (such as the DTI for example) and save huge amounts of money… but far from cutting pointless state expenditures, Cameron is in the process of making it politically impossible for him to do anything but ape Blair. Why? Because there has been no meaningful attempt by the Tories to even make the idea of a smaller state something that is simply a feature of normal political discourse. They have left the thinking to the other side and now have to fight every battle on ground Tony Blair has chosen for them.
The Tories have had more than a decade to put in the intellectual ground work for cutting the scope of the state and to argue their positions on the basis of several rights, and yet have done nothing of the sort because that is not what most of them believe. That is hardly surprising given the pathologies of the sort of people who are drawn to politics: they do not get involved because they want to wield less power than the previous guys who ran things. Understanding politicians and what they are likely to do is much easier once you realise that almost everyone in politics (even the ‘nice guys’ who wear sensible cardigans and remind you of Wallace and Gromit) have more in common psychologically and morally with your typical member of a street gang than with most of the people who actually vote for them.
However where does that leave people who do want a less intrusive state and cannot bring themselves to believe the Tory party does not give a damn about them? Well it leaves them trying to convince themselves that Cameron is just playing a clever game because the alternative is just too dreadful. He is the man who will save us from those who are incrementally destroying our competitiveness and strangling our civil liberties because, well, he has to be, who else is there?
But even if his conversion to ‘soft socialist’ economics is because he is going after LibDem voters who think high taxes and regulations are a good thing, it would at least require Cameron to also make a pitch based on civil liberties, the one differentiating issue where the LibDems make sense, and yet the main thrust of the inconstant Tory opposition to ID cards is based on their cost.
Those of you who think Cameron is just being clever should go watch Peter Sellers in ‘Being There’ and realise that what you are mistaking for cleverness is in fact just emptiness.