Three from Sp!ked this week:
Enough to tax the patience of a saint
Inheritance tax, inheritance tax, inheritance tax. If the coverage of the Conservative Party conference is to be believed, that is to be the big issue in UK politics in the run-up to the expected autumn election. It is enough to tax the patience of a saint – or indeed, of anybody who believes that politics ought to be a contest to decide the big questions facing our society.
A tyranny of experts
Lacking confidence in their authority, political elites have started looking for other ways to authorise their actions. For example, they have embraced the authority of science and expertise. With the rise of ‘evidence-based policymaking’, a buzzphrase in Western political life today, traditional electoral authority has been replaced by the authority of the dispassionate expert. Increasingly, national government policies are authorised by external institutions and conventions. Such outsourcing of authority is especially striking in the European Union. Governments that have joined the EU no longer have to take direct responsibility for certain policy initiatives and measures; instead they point out that these policies emanate from a technocratic, supra-national body: the EU. In earlier times, national governments jealously guarded their policymaking processes and prerogatives. Today, they are eager to subordinate themselves to international protocols, and to ‘share’ authority with others.
Who embalmed the Diana crime drama?
We are all supposed to have been studying CCTV pictures of Diana, Princess of Wales, smiling mysteriously in a hotel lift shortly before she died, and asking ourselves, as one headline put it: “What did her smile signify?”
I have no idea what, if anything, was on her mind. But I have another question. What on earth were the authorities thinking of when they turned an inquest about a ten-year old drink-driving accident into a titillating theatrical crime drama, with “exclusive” film and swimsuit shots of a celebrity princess?
On a train last week I sat opposite a crusty bloke dressed in black, carrying photocopies of “The Global Structure of the Illuminati” and the works of David Icke (who thinks world leaders are giant lizards) in a bag labelled “I’m Not Mad”. But why should we think such conspiracy theorists mad when the State spends millions on an 832-page report by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, and now on a months-long courtroom spectacle headed by Lord Justice Scott Baker, both of which take seriously crackpot notions about the Princess’s death?