Friday, 11 February 2011

Freedom and Democracy

"The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbour and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less that that which the smallest "functionaire" possesses who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose desecration it depends whether and how I am allowed to live or to work."
Frederich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

Three words often used by politicians when seeking election and office, but three words often forgotten once elected and in office. Nick Clegg is a prime (or should that be deputy-prime) example of that failure to protect and adhere to the idea of freedom and democracy.

The Coalition have released the Protection of Freedoms Bill and on his website Clegg writes:
"Freedom is back in fashion – 2011 will be the year that the coalition government hands people their liberty back. I have campaigned for this for many years and I am delighted that we have been able to deliver the Freedoms Bill in government."
It is perhaps ironic that Clegg also writes:
"It also drew on views put forward by the public through the radical Your Freedom website set up after the coalition government came to power."
This would be the same website that Clegg shut down and on which he refused to even consider changes to the law in certain areas, for example a relaxation of the smoking ban. It is also noted that a code of conduct will be introduced for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras with - joy oh joy - the creation of yet another quango in the shape of a Surveillance Camera Commissioner (which will no doubt entail a retinue of staff to administer the scheme).

Right at the end of Clegg's webpage we also learn that the Protection of Freedoms Bill is being introduced with the aim of gaining Royal Assent by late 2011 or early 2012 and must ask why the delay? It must be logical to assume that if it possible to get the European Union Bill on the statute book in a matter of months, then the same haste can be applied to a Bill which supposedly returns to us certain freedoms usurped by the State.

If 2011 is to be the year that the coalition government hands people their freedom back then why no referendum on whether we still wish to be shackled to the European Union wherein we are governed by those we are unable to eject from office? Is it not a contradiction for the European Union to claim, as it does in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), that it is founded on, amongst others, the values of freedom and democracy - yet does not provide that freedom whereby those enforcing laws can be ejected from office? If 2011 is to be the year the coalition government hands people their freedom back then why does the coalition present a Localism Bill that grants the people the opportunity of holding a referendum where the required number of signatures have been collected, yet then allows the local authority to ignore the result if they wish? Is it not a contradiction for Clegg to claim that the people are being returned freedoms yet continue to insist that where a vote is taken to alter/change/repeal a law, the result of that vote can be disregarded?

The central control that the state has over us, that the foregoing illustrates, is compounded by the control political parties exert over their Members of Parliament who were elected, lest anyone forgets, to represent their constituents and the opinions of said constituents. To illustrate how true this statement is, I would suggest you read this CiF piece in the Guardian by Dr. Sarah Wollaston, a Conservative MP elected by means of an open primary. Her condemnation of our present system of democracy is most admirably summed up with her last sentence:
"The job description of a Member of Parliament should never be simply to "turn up on time, say nothing and vote with the Government"
Those wielding political power in our nation today have no more intention of handing back power, real power, than did Stalin in his day.
Yet Clegg maintains that 2011 is the year in which we will be handed back our liberty and no doubt there exists those of the electorate that will actually believe him - unfortunately!


Anonymous said...

I fear you have missed the central point, something every other commentator (MSM, etc) has also missed. What the government are saying equates to: Nasty, evil Labour said you, our poor serfs, would be whipped twice a week, well, us nice, friendly coalition folk are only going to whip you once a week. Isn't that grand?

In other words, instead of repeal of Labour's police state law they want to keep it, just watered down a bit. And no doubt there will be a little clause that will subject the law to Statutory Instrument so they can quietly beef it back up again when no one is looking.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

A: No, I have not missed the point you make, with respect. It must be apparent that whilst I am no lover of Labour, neither am I a lover of the LibCons, or their separate forms.

I would refer you to the penultimate para:

"Those wielding political power in our nation today have no more intention of handing back power, real power, than did Stalin in his day."

Anonymous said...

Sorry, you are correct. Unfortunately I was a little rushed when perusing the post and stopped reading just before that, thinking you had moved on to another point, one I fully agree with, of course.

That said, the rest of the world does seem to have missed the point, portraying the trimming back as an improvement.