Krugman the austerity hunter is exploring Teacup Party country:
[T]he austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs....
[T]hey aren’t quite as crude as their American counterparts.... Still, the direction of policy is the same — and so is the fundamental insincerity of the calls for austerity.
American conservatives once observed Toryism with a certain awe and respect, as well as a touch of sympathy. The transatlantic version of governmental prudence and restraint had retained a Burkean interpretation which many on the American right had never read (or perhaps even heard of), and it all sounded so smart and sophisticated and in general reflected well on the very "idea" of conservatism. Plus, the Brits had Sir Winston, and later Iron Lady Margaret. Still, the poor things were incurably plagued by national health care--humanity's greatest crime against stiff upper lips. So, pity the conservative Brits.
In David Cameron, though, they have a younger Mitt Romney, who himself is an artificial creation, a frightful amalgamation of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Sarah Palin and Herman Cain. If Herr Doktor Frankenstein had wished to fabricate a walking political abomination, Mitt Romney would have resulted.
Yet one larger point to be observed, and profoundly lamented, is that the British, across the political spectrum, have seemed increasingly and horribly willing to imitate their American cousins. You recall that Labour's Tony Blair was cultivated as little more than a little Bill Clinton, and now of course the Brits have a tea-cupping pseudoconservative as head of government (I'm unshakably convinced that Burke would have been appalled by such disruptive, draconian austerity). My own, deeply personal pity-the-Brits moment came upon watching a documentary on Liberal Democrat (and now Deputy P.M.) Nick Clegg's exuberant mimicry of modern American campaign techniques.
Of course the Brits have suffered from a crushed complex ever since Franklin D. make it clear to Winston that the latter's empire was no longer in charge--or for that matter, the empire was no longer, period. The jig was up. We'd bake the century's remainder in our own way, thank you very much, and the Brits could just jolly well pick up the crumbs. Thus began their rather pathetic, fawning sidekickism.
But if I may, gentle cousins. Please stop. Go back. Return to the independence of spirit that once made England great, and made minds such as that of John Maynard Keynes's. And when you conservative Brits, especially, look to America as some sort of political-philosophical pacesetter (so far kept at bay by St. George Obama), you should pause and ponder the tocsins of one of your local scribes: Something wicked this way comes, and that way madness lies.