Do you like the meat in your hamburgers pink in the middle?
Look, I’m not judging you if you don’t. If you like your burgers tough, chewy, tasteless, sterile, then you go, girl!
All I’m saying is that for those of us in Nanny State Britain who like their burgers underdone properly (ie pink in the middle) these are difficult times.
There are loads of fancy burger joints opening up all over the country, but most chefs insist – quite belligerently in some cases – that they will not serve their meat cooked any less than medium because Health and Safety regulations forbid them from doing so.
Yes, yes, I appreciate that under-cooked minced beef can indeed harbour a variety of unpleasant bacteria; that when you consume this stuff, you are taking a risk.
But that surely is the blessing of being a grown up in a free country. You – not the state – decide what is and isn’t good for you. You make the trade-off – delicious, melt-in-the-mouth, unctuous pink minced steak v the risk of a bad tummy – not some finger-wagging bureaucrat. This is what freedom means: the ability to take calculated risks – risks which, by nature, will on occasion lead you to come unstuck. But that’s OK. Life’s like that. That’s the deal, for better or worse. No one gets out of here alive. But that’s no reason for us to stop doing everything that is fun while we’re waiting for the worst to happen.
This is why my favourite new Conservative is Liz Truss. She has just given a brilliant speech at the London School of Economics on the subject of liberty. And burgers.
Here is the relevant passage:
Or take burgers. I keep being told by excellent burger producers, whether it’s the Burger Shop in Hay-On-Wye or Bleecker Street in London, that there are strict restrictions against selling medium rare.
Why can’t I as a consumer decide, as I would be in most parts of the USA, or France?
Regulations against my tastes in burgers may see a little trivial, but they are symptomatic of a broader malaise.
Unnecessary red tape restricts business and consumer freedom, so I believe we should cut it wherever we can.
Read the speech in full. It’s one of the best I’ve seen by any senior British Conservative politician in years. Truss totally gets the point that liberty is one of the key pillars of conservatism – and also Britain’s best hope of a bright, prosperous future outside the European Union.
Here’s another taste:
I’ve never liked being told what to do. And I don’t like to see other people being told what to do.
Britain is a country that is raucous and rowdy.
We have a younger generation of self-starters growing up, who are desperate shape their own futures. Who reject hierarchy and understand the networked world and who want to take on the establishment – and win.
That’s not just a healthy attitude to have in life. I believe it’s key to our economic future.
I believe that our future lies in cultivating their maverick spirit.
I want our economic model to be one where it’s not about the state deciding what you do, it’s about you deciding what you do.
And from the grainbelt of our agricultural heartlands, to the brainbelt bursting out around our great universities…
From the port cities to the inland empires.
With greater freedom, all of these places have the capacity to do and be more.
Truly free enterprise has huge economic benefits, driving down prices and creating growth and jobs.
It breaks down monopolies, hierarchies and outdated practices.
It destroys barriers, and erodes inequality.
It’s good for business, and it’s good for our nation of Airbnb-ing, Deliveroo-eating, Uber-riding freedom fighters. As the LSE’s own Lionel Robbins said: “every day, thousands of people cast their votes for the hundreds of products and services on offer, and from the competition to win votes, better and better products and services arise.”
We all benefit from the creativity and innovation of a free market.
By odd coincidence, I was at a grand birthday party at the weekend which was swarming with Tory MPs. One of them was Liz Truss. A friend who spoke to her – unfortunately, I didn’t – said she was easily the most impressive one there; the one we should be rooting for, those of us who believe in free markets, limited government, personal responsibility, and liberty.
Liz Truss currently holds the post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury. She’s senior enough, in other words, to be a credible candidate for the Tory Party leadership whenever the dreadful Theresa May finally does the decent thing and slinks out of office.
Though Truss voted Remain in the EU referendum, she has since admitted her mistake: if the referendum were to be run again, she would vote Leave.
This speech is a bold and clever move.
It sets out an agenda and an ideology quite at odds with the dogged, apologetic, spineless, tax ‘n’ spend, authoritarian excuse for a Tory government we’ve got at the moment.
Truss is setting out her stall as the Red Meat Alternative.
I particularly liked the bit where she fired a shot across the bows of one of her Cabinet colleagues, Michael Gove.
Too often we’re hearing about not drinking too much…
…eating too many doughnuts…
…or enjoying the warm glow of our wood-burning Goves…I mean stoves.
I can see their point: there’s enough hot air and smoke at the Environment Department already.
Gove is one of the cleverest and most able Conservative ministers and would certainly make a far, far better Prime Minister than Theresa May.
But he has been so busy, of late, trying to show that the Conservatives aren’t the “nasty party” with his touchy-feely environment policies that he is in danger of forgetting what it is Conservatives are actually for.
Truss has just reminded him, good and proper. She has also sent a signal to the Tory wets dominating the government that their time is coming to an end.
At least I hope so.
Otherwise, we’re doomed.