Saturday, July 17, 2010
David Cameron's 'Socialist Paradise' in Scandinavia
I marvelled at the gleaming public services, the amazing levels of care for the elderly and the generous adult education provision. Labour supporters, like Anthony Crosland led his own party to place Sweden on an admiring diaz. But not everyone was impressed. Roland Huntford's The New Totalitarians, in the early 1970s, accused it of being so cloyingly helpful it resembled Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Rightwing critics were vocal in condemning the alleged homogenous 'boring', humourless nature of Swedish society. Knowing as many funny, interesting Swedes as I did, I could never agree with such negative views. To me it always seemed like the acceptable synthesis of a wealth creating free enterprise system, distributing its gains on socialist principles of fairness.
But now it's all changed. It's now, apparently, one of Cameron's favourite countries, exemplfying how market forces can remove the dead hand of state bureaucracy and add dynamism to moribund services. This applies to education- their socalled 'free-schools' and their health services too. So odd to hear this socialist paradise being praised so passionately by people who once excoriated it. But it might have more than a little to do with the Moderate's leader (ie Conservative),Fredrik Reinfeldt(pictured), who emerged as prime minister in 2006 and has done much to add a transformative gloss to half a century's social democratic achievements.
Friends tell me Sweden is still an amazing country in which to live where the social democratic ethos still survives. If Cameron is drawn to emulate any country, I'd prefer it to be Sweden rather than the USA, but the problem is that Britain starts from a position lagging so far behind the point when Reinfeldt took over. And Swedish conservatives are so much futher to the left than a party most of whom still idolise Margaret Thatcher. But carry on Dave, you might even learn something about fairness and social justice.
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