The problem here -- as in the United States -- is that politicians begin with the wrong premise. They believe government is better able to take care of us than we can. Too many have embraced that view despite evidence and historical precedent to the contrary. Fewer can recall a day when people were expected to fend for themselves and turn only to government -- if at all -- as a last option. One British TV channel is promoting a forthcoming documentary on how women managed to provide for their families on rations during World War II. It's seen as history with nothing to teach us moderns.
The result is that politicians on the Left and Right argue not over the principle of self-reliance, but rather about the growth rate of current "entitlements." In drug rehab, the goal is to wean the patient from his addiction. With government programs, politicians seek only to adjust the dosage not end the dependency.
Polls in Britain have shown for months that the Conservatives should win a smashing victory in the coming elections. But like the Republican Party in America, which had its own smashing victories and then proved unworthy of them, British voters are faced with what increasingly seems like an echo, not a choice. The question is what difference will a Conservative victory make? The public is still waiting for an answer beyond dodgy sound bites and press releases that correct apparent reversals of previous positions.