May: "It's not about big or small government, it's about good government"

Theresa May really did make the extraordinary and misguided argument in the title, in her 2005 speech to the Conservative Party's autumn conference. So what does David Cameron do with someone who thinks that the size of government doesn't matter and that government activism is fine so long as it intends to be "good"? He puts her in charge of the department that is responsible for the biggest spending budget in Whitehall.

At the point that she made this speech, Gordon had already increased government spending from 37% to 44% of GDP. Theresa had been on the front bench for most of that period, without apparently seeing any cause for concern.

Remember "sharing the proceeds of growth"? The Tories were calling for continued growth in public-sector funding, and seemed to think that the bubble economics would keep on working, right up until the Crash. How could anyone who recognizes the hole that Gordon has got us into, and that the Tories seemed to be quite happy that he was digging, vote for either party? How could anyone who recognizes the need for a change vote for Theresa May, the Tories' chief apologist for continued government bloat, activism and micro-management?

It's really not enough for your MP to be a "nice lady", or for her to provide her verbal support to local campaigns. Anyone can do that. Your MP will be debating and voting on the things that affect our lives and our economy. And your MP will be deciding how our money should be spent, if they become a minister. They don't need to be nice, they need good judgment and strong principles. This speech clearly demonstrates that she does not have the necessary judgment and principles to be an MP, let alone a minister.

The relevant section of her speech went as follows (our emphasis in bold):

I want us to reject BIG government --- government that tries to do everything and ends up achieving nothing. The hands-on, control-freaky, government-knows-best mindset that Labour, new or renewed, can never escape.

But I want us to reject SMALL government too --- and with it the assumption that politicians have no responsibility for peoples lives.

So let's put the myth to rest once and for all.

Size doesn't matter! Just because government is often part of the problem… Doesn't mean it can never be part of the solution.

Instead, I want the Conservative Party to stand for GOOD government.

Government's job is helping people live their lives --- throughout their lives --- as they raise and protect their families, build their careers, and save for their retirements.

Listening to people's needs, and taking responsibility for the things that matter to them.

Making sure they get the education and healthcare they deserve, keeping them safe, providing a fallback should life take a wrong turn, and helping them with the childcare or the care home place they need but can't afford.

Of course, we all know that, often, the best thing government can do is simply stay out of the way.

To allow people to give their time freely to help others --- as I know so many of you do.

But sometimes, to do its job, government needs to get stuck in.

So good government has to be prepared to be active, strong, and effective --- whenever it needs to be.

Good government should be both idealistic and pragmatic.

Idealistic in what it aims to achieve.

Ruthlessly pragmatic in how it sets out to achieve it.

There is no need to choose between the two.

And if it does its job well, the impact of government can be enormously beneficial.

We have made the full text of the speech available. But we must provide a health warning: expect strong feelings of nausea if you are determined to subject yourself to the glutinous nothingness of the whole thing.