I've considered myself to be fairly "centrist" or "centre-left" in my political views for most of my life. I remember heated arguments with friends at Cambridge where I would routinely find myself to be in a minority of one.
However, I have just finished reading a book that has turned many of my preconceptions completely upside down.
James Bartholomew's "The Welfare State We're In" is absolutely fascinating. And utterly depressing.
Written by a less careful (and caring) writer, this book could easly have been dismissed as a right-wing diatribe and ignored.. Instead, Bartholomew enumerates all the things that were intended to be improved by such things as the NHS and State Pensions and shows how, perversely and counter-intuitively, they have been made worse. By the end of the book, his claim that Britain (and all Britons) would have been better served if the modern welfare state had never been created is credible and almost inescapable.
I'd love to read a critique or rebuttal of this book.... perhaps I've just been too trusting of the figures and excellent writing but the worrying thing is that I really don't think I have... the very people intended to be helped by the massive increase in state intervention in the last 60 years really do appear to have been those most harmed by it.
It has given me far more to think about than any book I've read for a long time.
I would encourage any reader - of any political outlook - to read this book. It is truly eye-opening.