Euro conservatives warn of the temptations of socialism

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TAMPA, Fla. — Once a socialist-style program is established in a democracy, it’s virtually impossible to get rid of, a ranking member of the British government said during the delayed opening session of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

Socialist policies tend to persist no matter how much they may deplete that country’s treasury,” Member of Parliament Sajid Javid, who is also in Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal coalition government, said.

“That’s why even Margaret Thatcher never hinted at disbanding the National Health Service while she was prime minister,” Mr. Javid, who also serves as the parliamentary private secretary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said during a Washington Times panel discussion webcast from the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Mr. Javid also told the session that when the state confiscates privately-owned guns, as happened in England some years ago, “that too becomes virtually impossible to reverse.”

Mr. Javid, who is attending the GOP presidential nominating convention as a friendly observer, said Britain’s Conservative Party is in many ways more liberal than the Republican Party here.

Despite horror stories almost daily in the British press about the patients’ exasperation with aspects of the National Health Service, voters “love it” and would not think of abandoning it, Mr. Javid said, adding that the British government is looking for other ways to solve the country’s budgetary deficit and national debt problems.

“Once you give benefits away, you can’t take them away from people,” Mr. Javid said.

Another highly opinionated group of lawmakers — conservative members of the European Parliament — are also attending the GOP convention here, seeking ways to cooperate with American conservatives and what they hope will be a Mitt Romney administration, they said.

Dan Hannan, a U.K. member of the European Parliament and the general secretary of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR), said most conservatives abroad have been skeptical of — and even hostile to — the idea of a united Europe, for fear of creating an all-powerful centralized bureaucracy not that much different from the one that dominated much of Europe from Moscow.

Mr. Hannan’s group differs from the original Western European members of the European Parliament in their unwillingness to trade national sovereignty for political unification under the umbrella of a United States of Europe, he said.

“We specifically use ‘Alliance’ because unlike other pan-European parties, we believe in a Europe of sovereign nations and institutions,” Mr. Hannan said.

Asked if the new alliance, which includes many nations once part of the Soviet bloc, was out to replace the old Europe of France, Italy, Belgium and other socialistic nations with a group of new, rollickingly capitalist nations no longer under communist domination, Mr. Hannan said that was a bit ambitious to be the group’s immediate goal.

“But it’s definitely true that Central and Eastern European nations know what it’s like to be ruled by a foreign capital and they don’t want to be ruled by Moscow or Brussels,” Mr. Hannan said.

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About the Author
Ralph Z. Hallow

Ralph Z. Hallow

Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.

 

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