Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Conservatives' headlong retreat from the free market

You may have seen this story reported in the Shropshire Star:
A bus company has been criticised for displaying vegan adverts on vehicles in Shropshire, which relies heavily on agriculture. 
Shropshire Council’s deputy leader Steve Charmley, councillor for Whittington has hit out at Arriva for displaying an advert on the back of some buses, with a message about turning vegan for January.
Mr Charmley has now protected his tweets, but the Star quotes what he said:
Whilst I don’t object to anyone choosing what they eat and when they eat it. I really object to arriva buses running Veganuary adverts in Shropshire, a great County built on Agriculture! I am asking to meet with Arriva to discuss. I hope @NFUShrops does the same. #vegansneedfacts.
This is sinister in its call for censorship. But more than that, it is silly. Vegans eat vegetables. Where does Mr Charmley imagine vegetables come from?

Yet his views are in line with the retreat from the free market the Conservative Party is currently staging.

In the EU referendum campaign Conservatives told us that Brexit would lead to a renaissance in international trade. Now they are planning for a siege economy and showing increasing signs of enjoying the prospect.

As I put it the other day, Brexit is turning the Conservatives into a caricature of the Labour Party.

Back to Shropshire. Mr Charmley is arguing that the county's farmers must continue to produce exactly what they produce now. And if that means censoring the advertisements on its buses, then so be it.

Whatever happened to Conservative support for a free market where producers are swift to adapt to changes in what the public demands? What happened to their support for free speech?

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