Here, for instance, is Mark Hendrick, Labour MP and chairman of the all-party parliamentary China group, speaking:
"Perhaps, as a democratically elected politician, I shouldn’t say this.While China may be far from what we would want in the UK, they are good at getting things done."And here is Tory right-winger David Davies:
“Having been to Shanghai and Beijing, it took my breath away how modern those cities are. It’s absolutely extraordinary. This isn’t ‘First World’ – it’s beyond that. We travelled to and from Shanghai Airport in a train doing several hundred kilometres an hour. They had put up several huge bridges up over the Yangtze River in just a few years. When I think of the work involved in trying to get just a small bridge up in my constituency…” He trails off. “I think we’re going to learn a lot of lessons from China.”Back to Labour and Emma Reynolds, Labour MP for Woverhampton North East and treasurer of the all-party group:
We should be worried about human rights, and that there isn’t freedom of expression, but we should be mindful of what people say are their priorities. At the moment jobs, having a decent level of income and a roof over their heads, tops other freedoms.”I believe we should trade with China - that is the best way of spreading Liberal ideas among the Chinese people. And I am prepared to accept that lecturing people about their failings can sometimes be counterproductive.
But what is really depressing here is the politicians' tacit acceptance of the idea that tyranny is more efficient than democracy.
In particular, what is Davies, who fancies himself as a right-wing tribune of the people, doing embracing the idea that having an overpowering state is the best way to run an economy The collapse of the Soviet Union should have buried that idea long ago.
I also wonder what the voters in Davies' leafy Monmouth constituency would make of his views about planning law.
Let me end by quoting a passage that I have reproduced here more than once. It is about the philosopher Karl Popper and comes from Bryan Magee's intellectual autobiography Confessions of a Philosopher:
Bryan Mageee, writing about Karl Popper in his Confessions of a Philosopher, puts it well: Before Popper it was believed by almost everyone that democracy was bound to be inefficient and slow, even if to be preferred in spite of that because of the advantages of freedom and the other moral benefits; and the most efficient government in theory would be some form of enlightened dictatorship.
Popper showed that this is not so; and he provides us with an altogether new and deeper understanding of how it comes about that most of the materially successful societies in the world are liberal democracies.
It is not - as, again, had been believed by most people before - because their prosperity has enabled them to afford that costly luxury called democracy; it is because democracy has played a crucial role in raising them out of a situation in which most of their members were poor, which had been the case in almost all of them when democracy began.