I think the problem with her world view is this:
…we are essentially a social democratic nation.
I don\’t think Britain is.
For three different reasons.
Firstly, I simply believe that we\’re collectively rather more individualistic than a social democratic polity would suit. Almost by happenstance we started this idea in the 1650-1700 span that people should be allowed to get on with things as they wish without the interference, permission or approval of the State. It became the very British definition of freedom and liberty: that we can cooperate, assemble, club together, as we wish and no one can say us nay nor do we need to ask for the right to do so*.
What Burke later called the little platoons surged into existence as a result. This self ordering of civil society certainly used to be one of our defining features and while recently there have been gross intrusions into it it\’s still part of what, at least in our own eyes, makes us different.
The second is that we\’re actually appallingly bad at running the encoutrements of a socially democratic state. The jobsworth, the form filling, clipboard wielding bureaucrat is a national figure of fun and has been for generations. In a way that a bureaucrat in Sweden say, or Germany, simply is not. Such an occupation there provides a rise in social standing, it simply doesn\’t here, it makes one an object of derision. And for very good reason too: when our bureaucracy gets ahold of a project, however well meaning it is, however righteous it would or could be if properly implemented, they manage to fuck it up entirely.
From the idea that the poor should have somewhere decent to live to Lee Jasper in a council house while on £100,000 a year. From the idea that we might check the sexual desires of those who would work with children to 11 million people having to register to take the neighbour\’s kids to cub scouts. As reported today, from the idea that perhaps child care should not be the Dickensian farming out of babies to an army of snoops checking the house of anyone who has the temerity to look after kids for more than 2 hours a day for more than 14 days a year.
As for the economics: if you look at those countries which are held up as exemplars of that social democratic ideal, the Nordics, absolutely no self proclaimed social democrat here seems to understand their tax systems. Nor their health care services, their education systems or anything much else of how those societies operate.
In taxation they are a great deal more liberal (even \”neo-liberal\” to scare the bejabbers out of middle class lefties) than we are. Lower corporate taxation than we have (much so in fact). Yes, the income tax rates are higher, but so also are the VAT rates (which as we know are highly regressive). In total in fact, their tax systems are *less* progressive than our own.
We have people here screaming that \”the rich must pay their fair share\” while absolutely failing to see what the Nordics have understood: there just aren\’t enough rich people and collectively they don\’t have enough money to pay for a social democratic State. Everyone needs to be taxed, and taxed heavily, to pay for it. VAT at 25% on everything for a start.
The health care systems tend not to be run as one, national, monolithic service. Education is markedly freer than our own State system of monopolistic supply. Goof grief, the Finnish system, marked as number 1 in the world by some measures, even has our old Grammar/ Secondary Mod divide between academic stream schools and vocational (at a later age, but still….)
No, I don\’t think we are a social democracy, nor do I think we desire to be. Partly because we just ain\’t the right sort of fodder for it, partly because we\’re entirely crap at running such a State and finally because those screaming for this form of State seem not to understand how those places which are actually work.
* Yes, I know that unions were not treated this way: but that\’s part of the point, that it was *only* unions that were the exception which is why such treatment stands out. Until after WWII you needed permission from Paris to have a club of more than 25 Frenchmen. A club of anything at all.