Why do socialists so dislike freedom?

Yesterday in the Commons we witnessed the new unholy alliance between Labour and the one Green MP to try to limit the freedom. The discussion was about the rights of schools and Headteachers under the new Academies legislation. It was intriguing to see Caroline Lucas in action again – she favours state control and state solutions over giving individuals, professionals, even state employees more opportuntiy to make their own minds up and to differentiate what they do and offer. It makes her a natural ally of Labour as they dump their Blairite baggage and revert to the “state knows best” litany. At one stage she got so worked up she completely forgot the point she wanted to make in an intervention.

One of the ironies of their position is they think Governors and Heads of state financed schools would operate against the public interest or against the wishes of the parents and pupils they serve if they are allowed more freedom from Council control. These advocates of public services have so little trust in the main suppliers of such services that they wish to keep them enchained to Councils and to Whitehall.

As we kept explaining, the legislation was enabling, not mandatory. If Heads and Governors share the socialist view that they would misbehave or be unable to survive with more freedom, they are quite entitled under the new legislation to stick with the Council and what they have. They can put themselves under any amount of central and local regulation they like if that makes them happier. If a school opts for freedom and then does a bad job it will lose the support of pupils and parents and have to change. When did Councils last force timely change in enough poorly performing schools?

There is all the difference in the world between socialist legislation which mandates certain behaviour, requires a service to be delivered in a certain way, and imposes penalties on innovation or choice, and legislation which tries to free things up a little. Let’s have some more of this enabling legislaiton. The public sector is too driven by top down controls and expected to conform to the same broken Labour way of doing things.

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42 Comments

  1. Adrian
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    John, it's a bit rich. I mean, I agree with many of your sentences here but…

    …just yesterday, four hundred of us lampooned the Conservative Party on the Daily Mail's website upon news of how YOUR party in Government is to allow a foreign power (the EU) jurisdiction to police the streets of Britain, to spy on our data including bank records, to harvest our biometrics and to order our arrest.

    To allow such activity on these shores is to subvert the constitution – set up by our forebears to defend our liberties and freedoms.

    A constitution so flagrantly ignored by the LibLabCon in order that it may bow down to it's European masters to the point that, it no longer matters who we vote in. Our Parliament no longer represents the people. Parliament has become as illegitmate as the European masters that it now seems to serve.

    Freedom? Yes, give us freedom. Give us our country's sovereignty back. The rest follows with the full restoration of our national constitution.

    Reply: Give us some more Eurosceptics in Parliament, then we could win a vote to stop this increase in EU power

    • SJB
      Posted July 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Our forebears allowed a foreign country (United States of America) to station their forces on these islands under our NATO obligations, which is several orders of magnitude greater than what has recently been agreed with the EU. It is submitted that neither activity subverts the constitution, which – unlike other countries – can be amended just by a simple majority vote in the legislature.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted July 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: So if I may conservative party, give us fewer green zealots (Cameron, Goldsmith) or Europhiles (all too many to name but the entire Lib-Dem contingent in government) or actual devotees of limted, small government, low taxes, minimal interference and we might vote for 'em.

      Sadly, honourable exceptions aside, that does not describe the tory party any more.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Where are these missing Eurosceptic MPs? Not in the Conservative Party, I fear.

    • Kevin Peat
      Posted July 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      "Give us some more Eurosceptics in Parliament, then we could win a vote to stop this increase in EU power"

      Would we have been better off voting UKIP or BNP rather than Tory then ?

      Reply NO – that would have give you even fewer Eurosceptics in Parliament.

  2. Jim
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Socialists dislike freedom because given a choice many, if not most, choose things other than socialism. So as keepers of the 'one true faith' they feel entitled to force socialism on people 'for their own good'. Ultimately with the 4am knock if necessary……………

  3. Duyfken
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Is it possible to be right-wing and a greenie? I think so. As you say, Caroline Lucas betrays symptoms of socialism in wishing to apply controls from the centre, but I feel green (ie responsible) activity can be achieved just as well or even better, if left to private, albeit moderated, enterprise. Light-touch regulation is doubtless necessary and the lighter the touch the more strictly should it be enforced, but that seems a far cry from the measures advocated by Ms Lucas.

    • Jan
      Posted July 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      I agree….I am green and right-wing too. The current Green Party alienates a huge number of people and is a bit of a joke. Caroline Lucas is more to the left than most of the Labour Party!

      There are a lot of innovative, entrepreneurial types involved in setting up green businesses in alternative energy, recycling etc and I'm not sure where they're represented politically at the moment. Hopefully David Cameron, Zac Goldsmith etc can become more involved in green initiatives soon within the Tory Party.

  4. Steve Tierney
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    >>Why do socialists so dislike freedom?<<

    Fear, I think. They seem to be terrified of everything.

  5. Acorn
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Shame on you JR! Picking on poor little Caroline. She never stood a chance debating against you in the HoC. But she did have a good go; plucky lady I say. If you get a chance, have a go at the other Caroline; "window dressing" Flint. She is even more gorgeous when she gets angry. (end of sexist bit)

    Schools don't need governing bodies anymore, they are an anachronism. They need a good parent teacher set up; that actively encourages contact with the school and the way it works. Your local GP; Bank; Supermarket, don't have or need local governing bodies. Why do schools need them? Head Teachers rule, OK. That is, the ones that don't want to be retired by age 55; as the current crop do.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted July 28, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Totally right. But, of course, those that are about to lose their power (they translate this seamlessly into talk about loss of earnings by the school) are not happy bunnies. Here they are throwing their weight around mercilessly. Lots of ladies are getting frightened, and they are meant to be so. But – hey! – we're all Tories!

  6. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Socialists are very passionate about their own ideals. So passionate, that they think everyone else should fall in line with these thoughts.

    Biggest problem is that they never have enough of someone elses money to enact them. But that does not stop them trying to get it at almost any cost.

    Give a Socialist an inch and they take a mile.
    Give them a pound and they want a hundred.
    Let then legislate and they want State Control.

    Ask them where in the World real Socialism has workled properly for years, and you get Silence.

    Enough said.

  7. Richard1
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Green is the new Red. The trial of the Khmer Rouge murderer in Cambodia reminds us again of the evils wrought on the World by socialism in the 20th Century. Greenness is a way for socialists to advocate policies of state control wherever possible without having to associate themselves too clearly with the horrors of true socialism or the failures of the quasi-socialism we had in the UK in the 1970s

  8. Nick
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I just think it's hypocritical of Lucas to attack these plans. It is alright for her to go to an independent school, but not for the rest of us!

  9. John C
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    It always amazed me how Gordon Brown and the rest of the New Labour ministers got away with their mantra of ever more "investment". They only ever talked about inputs.

    Finally we have a government that understands that, what matters is outcomes.

    Andrew Lansley got it right when Andy Burnham was trying to castigate him for (possibly) doing away with the 2 week commitment to see a cancer specialist. Andrew, quite rightly said that the only outcome he would accept is if we manage to up our survival rates to match the EU *** AVERAGE *** – That's how far behind we are.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    They are advocates of the master/servant relationship – they think they are the masters and we are their servants.

  11. NickW
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Where socialism and statism fails is in its inability to understand that the force of compulsion invites determined resistance.
    Newton's laws are not limited only to mechanics; if the state uses the force of compulsion on its citizens, it will be opposed by an equal and opposite force.

  12. Dan H.
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    The most defining characteristic of a Socialist is, I think, the underlying and fundamental belief that They Know Best. This underpins everything that Socialism stands for, and everything that it does and does not do.

    Socialists don't like free markets, since a free market is an open refutation of the idea that an intelligently-planned market is best. Similarly all Socialist planning is centralised since They Know Best, taxation is high to give the ones who know best the money to do everything for everybody, and laws tend to gradually get stricter and stricter to constrain the population into behaving the way that the people who know best dictate.

    This central belief also filters down to how people in organisations behave. Take an example: a junior member of staff acts like a complete and utter (fool-ed) when dealing with a customer or member of the public.

    Under a free market system, said fool would get a severe telling off for being a (fool), and his immediate manager would likely share the punishment for allowing said (fool) out without supervision.

    Under Socialist beaurocracies, the individual is never to blame as long as they followed the procedures laid down by the Ones Who Know Best. This is why whenever some functionary acts like a complete nitwit, they never seem to get punished, but are instead "re-trained", and "procedures will be checked".

    It all goes back to this fundamental belief that somewhere, someone knows best and that everything would be perfect if this one perfect way of doing things were followed. This is why Socialism never works; as generations of robotics programmers have discovered unless you are operating in a very severely constrained environment, a rule-set can never be accurate enough nor the person (or robot) good enough at following rules to achieve this perfection.

  13. Deadwood
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Didn't the banks get all 'enabled' and 'free'? That went well didn't it…

    • libertarian
      Posted July 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Deadwood ( good name) no actually the banks weren't enabled and free. They were required by law to lend sub prime and low interest backed by the State semi quango's Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. Operating in a politically led climate that artificially kept interest rates very low and creating a housing bubble in order to give the appearance of an end to boom and bust.

      So to answer your question no the banks were not enabled and free they where operating in a socialist/Keynesian bubble creation factory . The banks of course went along with this as it enabled them to make shed loads of money for nothing. All good corporatist/statists together

  14. Disco Biscuit
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Socialism is based on the most arrogant of assumptions, that you are always right and indeed so right that you are even right about the lives of others. Combined with missionary zeal, socialists seek to save us from ourselves, not by persuading us to do what they believe would be best for ourselves, but simply by telling us that is how things will be.
    Arrogance and authoritarianism are the necessary requirements for a person to be a socialist. Quite why they care what anyone else does with their lives is anyone's guess.

  15. forthurst
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Of course, Brighton was a pioneer in the use of a lottery to determine secondary school placements. This is far removed from the Brighton of my childhood where the 11+ exam decided secondary school placement.
    Obviously the lottery system can create the sorts of opportunities that will have socialists salivating with anticipation at the potential for delicately disposed middle class English children engaging in social intercourse with those of a rather coarser and more exotic background whilst educationally their oppportunies are rather more constrained.

    What we have to accept is that the main objective of socialist control is to stymie the English middle class. They will never accept the natural consequences of the genetic lottery With that in mind, surely it is reasonably easy to predict what they will attempt to do and what they will say if they are frustrated. What we need therefore are leaders who can be as aggressive in achieving our reasonable expectations as socialists are in trying to handicap us. Perhaps also we need to give slightly more attention to the reasonable expectations of those unequipped for the glittering heights but more than willing and able to pull their weight in creating a successful and well ordered society.

    Interestingly, the USA has pioneered the techniques in education designed to specifically to stymie the WASP to such an extent that he is in a minority in those foremost institutions that he created, namely Harvard and Yale.
    There, admission operates like golf in which handicaps are awarded but based on racial group: WASPs are in competition and losing out badly particularly to a minority with three hats which it alternates selectively, namely, religion, race, white. Needless to say with a large part of the student body being (selected not entirely on ability-ed), there is really no doubting who most benefits and who most loses from this syatem. So we should also remember that there are those who will exploit the to their own advantage any system which is designed to unfairly disadvantage people like who like John Redwood are English and rather bright.

  16. Lola
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Why do socialist so dislike freedom? Now, Mr R, I know that you know the answer to this. One, socialism is by definition entirely incompatible with personal liberty. The core principle of socialism is that the state knows best. If you think this through it boils down to one person telling all the rest of us what to do. Which is risible. Two, Socialists believe in positive freedom. That is "follow me and I will make you free!". Whereas everyone else (and especially blokes like me) know that negative freedom is the right thing "Bugger off," we say. "I am a free man, all you can do is to try to enslave me".

    Trouble is if you follow this argument through you must end up reforming the EU (and getting Obama out of the White House). If you reform the EU along these lines it will automatically end up as a simple free trade zone. In other words it is not in the self interest of any government to promote liberty, autonomy and freedom as it puts them out of a job. Well, alright, cuts their jobs down by about 90%. Which might be what you want. And if so I am very pleased to hear it.

  17. James Strachan
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Speaking as a school governor, I totally agree.

    We and the school staff want more responsibility and less form filling.

  18. Rich
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    John: Why don't you ask that question of some of the Socialists in your own party? Start with Ken Clarke and David Cameron.

  19. Jimi Cazot
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, surely you don't expect Caroline Lucas to appreciate freedom from the State, let alone the merits of private enterprise and endeavour? She has never in her 49 years worked within the private sector. Her only experience of it came whilst at school. Oh, oh dear, there's a surprise.

    Next blog: 'Why are well-educated socialists so blind to their own hypocracy?'

  20. Simon
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    John

    Why do socialists dislike freedom?

    I'd say it's not that they consciously dislike freedom, but rather that they like equality more and will be utterly ruthless in their efforts to enforce it. And equality requires a state to supervise its implementation as, given the nature of our species, inequalities will habitually arise when we are left to our own devices.

    You can strive for liberty or you can strive for equality. You can't strive for both simultaneously. Surely that is the one of the clearest lessons we have to take on board from the legacy of the Enlightenment – and where it went wrong.

    Personally, like most Brits, I prefer liberty. And having reviewed the global efforts of socialism over the past century, I'm proud of the fact.

  21. Freeborn John
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    It is not just socialists. Theresa May is handing over powers to the EU with the European Investigation Orders in direct violation of the Conservative Manifesto using the same weasel words about "simplifications" and "tidying up exercises" as the last Labour government.

    ———- Conservative Manifesto LIES ————–
    # Labour claimed to have obtained an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, but were forced to admit it was just a ‘clarification’. We want to upgrade this to a full opt-out so that it cannot be used by EU judges to re-interpret EU law affecting the UK; and
    # We want broader protection against EU judges extending their control over Britain’s criminal justice system and we want to ensure that only British authorities can initiate criminal investigations in Britain.

  22. Michael Lewis
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Free schools – great idea, provided they don't expect subsidy from general taxation. Wrong for government to give subsidy to British Leyland, wrong to give subsidy to RBS, wrong to give subsidy to school that couldn't be 'free' without a state handout.

    Parents choosing free schools should be allowed to do so – but they reall shouldn't expect the state to subsidise their choice. Thats unfair on other taxpayers. It gives the impression that general taxation will be used to certain demographic.

    • rob
      Posted July 29, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      I think your point applies equally to every single state school. They wouldn't exist without state subsidy. Somehow you think that's ok though. Some might call that duality of opinion 'hypocriscy'.

  23. adam
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    public private partnerships are evil
    i would prefer socialism to that

  24. gac
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I think Ms Lucas is from that dangerous class of human beings- fanatics in causes which float their boats..

    Being incapable of convincing by the currency of their argument they resort to dictat and control, thus forcing us accept and live under their version of what is good for us, but not necessarily them.

    Greenpeace and its supporters are similarly hewn, hence the criminal acts of making BP filling stations dangerous to operate therefore causing their closure.

    They all live under the BBC banner of 'activist' which does not explain why many of them hide their faces when on a 'peaceful' demonstration. Take away their benefits please!

    Back to Ms Lucas – I thought Ms May put her in her place quite nicely yesterday!

  25. Kevin Peat
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Greenism is the perfect vehicle for the socialist. It enables control of personal consumption by such things as limiting the size of wheelie bins, soon to be further limited by constrictions in the electricity supply (the deliberate folly that is wind farming). Yet – for all the BBC's efforts – there is still only one Green MP in Parliament, so why does she have such influence in the public sphere ?

    The defining feature of the socialist is that he is – first and foremost – a hypocrite. He is the most enthusiastic of capitalists when it comes to securing for himself the best housing, schooling, medical care … It seems that the political establishment (including the Tory Party) is infested with them.

    There are many of us out here wondering why we voted Conservative. Now that Mr Cameron has betrayed so many of his election promises (with some of his key members showing disturbingly leftist traits) who does he think he can count on to support his reforms and austerity plans ?

  26. Julian
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    The idea that the market is bad is entrenched. The benefits of business, entrepreneurship, self-reliance and freedom of expression are not vigourously promoted by the right as they should be. They are generally defended. Maybe the Government should impose free thinking on the population!

  27. Tim
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    But New Labour is not socialist! And it hasn't been established that socialists dislike freedom; yours is a loaded question.

  28. Chuck Unsworth
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Yes, La Lucas is a self-obsessed and very silly woman, with major intellectual limitation. She's managed to bamboozle a few, but she's now up against an altogether more demanding environment – and she is being found out.

  29. christina sarginson
    Posted July 28, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Freedom is great and something I think most of us strive for in one way and another however it can be abused as we all know, I do worry about the situation with regard to education I am all for talent being recognised etc but I hope standards dont drop!!

  30. rose
    Posted July 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    She is doing a grand job – keeping true ecologists and conservatives out of her party. Without her we might not have Zac or Porritt, and a whole lot more like them we could well do with to make our country more civilized.

  31. Stephen W
    Posted July 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    It's because they hate puppies.

  32. Tom Snood
    Posted July 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Does that mean the Tories will give us the 'freedom' to add a few more questions of our own to the referendum the politicos want on electoral whatever? We could clear up the hunting debate, decide whether to continue being robbed by the BBC, all manner of answers we could give if we had the 'freedom' withheld by the wicked socialists

  33. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 29, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    It's all in '1984'. When O,Brien is interrogating Winston, he asks 'Winston, why does the Party want power.' After one or two wrong guesses by Winston, O'Brien answers his own question – the Party doesn't want power for any creative purpose; it wants power for its own sake.

    Plus ca change …………………………….

  34. George
    Posted July 29, 2010 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    There are some areas in which the state is best suited to play a dominant part. Our education system is one of these. It is better for all of us if a national curriculum is adhered to, as long as it is flexible enough to accept a variety of views.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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