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The new matters of state

By David Goodhart   February 2010

Labour complains that the Tories want a nightwatchman state; the Tories respond by saying Labour wants the state to run everything—such are the moronic exchanges we will wake up to each morning during the forthcoming election. But beneath such dreary accusations a more interesting argument about the nature of the modern state has developed in recent years. Labour’s “enabling state” is pitted against the Tories’ “post-bureaucratic state.” Both accept that in a modern liberal democracy, where the goal of politics is to maximise the welfare of the average citizen, the state will remain quite large. They also both acknowledge that…

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