Simon Heffer's article expresses exactly what I feel about Britain today. He may be slightly unfair in blaming Labour so directly. As he says, there are no grounds for optimism that a Conservative government would be any less invasive.
Generations of voters have lived with and now accept the dominant role of the state in everyday life. We have been "sovietised" to such an extent that only economic collapse will force us to the truth. That could take longer than I have left.
The current controversy over smoking bans is a case in point. Only the intensity of the repression is in dispute. Comments on the BBC website say facile things like "why shouldn't the majority view prevail?" Ordinary people are illiberal and intolerant, failing to understand that, in one way or another, we are all in minorities. If only those activities which are *always* conducted by a majority are free from State control, then we may as well appoint our commisars now.
As for the "secondary damage" argument - entirely unproved - so what if it's true? There is secondary damage from thousands of everyday activities. I hesitate to name them for fear of encouraging their suppression. Suffice to say that no man is an island. It is not possible to move through this life without impacting others. A little courtesy to those we inconvenience should be met with a little tolerance from them. We are all on one side or other of that equation in the course of every day. If we can't accommodate each other, we must let the State decide between us.
No-one forces non-smokers to go to smoking restaurants or pubs. If they *only* go to those with no-smoking policies, their majority status will soon ensure that most are non-smoking. Likewise, if staff choose not to work in smoky environments, most employers will have to accommodate them. We, as individuals, have been dealing with it for years. I have not been anywhere for some time without a smoke-free area. I have had to give up favourite restaurants because there is nowhere for a post-dinner cigar. I have not complained. I have accepted the proprietor's right to set the policy he thinks will appeal to his target customers and I have looked for other places. There is no need for the state to dictate terms.
I have come to the view that it isn't the government's fault that it interferes in every aspect of our life. We are a democracy and governments stay in power by - in general - giving people what they want. It is the fault of the uneducated, authoritarian majority which expects it of them. I am so far from being a "normal" Briton today, that I must retire to a different country, with a less-intrusive, or at least less well-organised, State.
Since any attempts by Blair to roll back even the most recent stupidities of Labour education policy are resisted fiercely by the Labour Left, there is no hope of better educated voters in my lifetime. Generations of comprehensive education have poisoned the wells to such an extent that we lack suitably-qualified people to teach maths, science and languages. Our schools, like our other public services, are Socialist "voter farms" where any teacher with a remotely liberal opinion would be afraid to express it.
I cannot see a way any way out but out. I have a few years yet to decide, as I work outside the UK. My only ground for optimism is that one candidate for Tory leader has a daughter named Liberty. Unless he's more radical than he seems, naming her Chastity may prove to have been no less nostalgic.
Telegraph | Opinion | Labour has left a scar on the soul of Britain