A failing faux-democracy or a benevolent dictatorship? I know which I’d choose.

“…It is not merely shocking but tragic that 61 per cent of young people in the UK would prefer a dictator to a democratic leader.” Matthew Syed in the Sunday Times praising the virtues of liberal democracy.

One of the best governments I ever lived under was not a liberal democracy, actually it wasn’t a democracy at all. All the liberal freedoms were in place – the press, assembly, speech, worship and the rest. The Leader was benign, able, professional and his administration was competent and respected. But nobody has ever voted for him. When the Leader died unexpectedly the people were openly weeping in the streets. The Leader was Edward Youde , the Governor of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government in the 1970s and 1980s virtually eliminated corruption where it had been rife, especially in the Royal Hong Kong Police. They constructed hundreds of thousands of homes for a growing population swelled by refugees (aka “Asylum Seekers”) escaping from the horrors of Mao’s China. They built a highly efficient metro system, two tunnels connecting Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and started work on an amazing new airport.

The important Financial Services sector was loosely regulated and there were occasionally probity issues but it mostly worked. Taxes in Hong Kong were low but the buoyant economy funded the huge construction projects and world class education and healthcare. Effort was rewarded, but there was adequate provision for those in need. Compare the benevolent dictatorship that was late colonial Hong Kong with the shambles of our “liberal democracy” in Britain today!

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