David Cameron has given us the vision thing at the Tory Party Conference. He was strong on his daft notion of the Big Society; so daft that it is doubtful if many of the faithful in the hall or TV viewers could fathom out what he was talking about. In some ways it was chrystal clear. We were listening to the mantra of the unreconstructed right: small government, low taxes, a foreign and defence policy narrowly focussed on protection of trade and the substituion of the expert manager or official by a untrained volunteer labour force. Arisotle is resurrected from a grave where he slumbered peacefully. Now we are all to be citizens busy about the social affairs of our neighbours and running things without expertise: a nation of professional workers is to to be substituted by busybodies. None of this is to decry the role of voluntary associations in our national life but they can only become more useful as a caring and enabling states extends its role.
This Tory simplicity and yearning for a return to pastoral virtues will, of course, run into the ground. At the moment it is in the ascendant. There are at least three, and probably more, categories of Tory on display. There is the brutal and rather simple category which bathes in the glory of a world reduced to its own simplicities; the blustery and crude men and women on the climb are seizing their opportunity; and then there is the sophisticted men and women of the world who understanding the difficulties of life in its infinite human variety look on us, the electors, with half smiles and a midgeon of compassion.
This world, in all its complexities, is about to inflict its revenge on those engaged in this nonsense. The revenge although in part uncontrollable does need political direction. It must become clear to the electorate that there is a viable Opposition to the Coalition’s half-baked solutions to national and international problems. Ed Milliband must roll up his sleeves and get down to the job of saving us all from the economics and politics of Alice in Wonderland.