Sunday, 27 March 2011

Wishful Thinking?

"The more numerous public instrumentalities become, the more is there generated in citizens the notion that everything is to be done for them and nothing by them. Every generation is made less familiar with the attainment of desired ends by individual actions or private agencies; until, eventually, governmental agencies come to be thought of as the only available agencies."
Herbert Spencer, The Man versus the State (1884)

Last Thursday Ian Parker-Joseph and I attended a Bruges Group meeting at which the speakers were Bill Cash MP and Peter Oborne. The podcasts of both speeches can be accessed here. Bill Cash's speech was informative and quite interesting, however we both considered it a tad too infused with an element of what one might call "self-importance". Peter Oborne's speech basically provided a preview of his op-ed piece in the following days edition of the Daily Telegraph. Our general consensus was that if this was the best that the Eurosceptic movement could provide, then Eurosceptism is in deep trouble.

However, the highlight of the evening was, during the drinks and nibbles afterwards, speaking to a Conservative supporter who, when questioned about our right to self-governance; the illogical stance of the party he supports; the lack of 'backbone'' exhibited by most MPs of his party; the dictatorial attitude of his party Leader; the right to individual self-determination; breaking the 'control' of central government; and why he was still prepared to vote Conservative amounted to, paraphrasing: "Well, I have always voted Conservative and suppose I always will". With regard to this particular individual, therein lie the problems, ones also only too prevalent amongst supporters of both the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties: tribalism, blinkered-vision and an inability to think for oneself. Is it any wonder that the Lib/Lab/Con have managed to retain their grip on the political scene for so long, when they have supporters of the intellectual calibre of the fellow IPJ and I met?

I have posted previously about the democratic deficit under which we live, but perhaps the latest example of this occurred last week when Parliament voted overwhelmingly - and retrospectively - in favour of the imposition of a no-fly zone. With such efforts expended obtaining the permission of NATO, the UN - not forgetting of course Brussels - why was the permission of our Parliament not sought prior to military action being undertaken? It is worth mentioning a couple of points: according to Liam Fox the aim is to ensure the Libyan people have their own voice and decide for themselves their own future - in which case why does he not practise at home that which he wishes to instill abroad? Second: courtesy of pixijade, who links to this article by Christopher Booker - from whom we learn that the total cost of the six Storm Shadow missiles 'delivered' to Libya was approximately £7million - we could have saved quite a few libraries, filled a few potholes, we could even have paid the outstanding bill for the Barts and the London NHS Trust project.

Stuart Wheeler, writing his paper "A Question of Trust", states:
"Being a member of parliament is not just a vocation for the man or woman fortunate enough to be called to do it. Electing a person to sit in the Commons is the highest trust the British people can place in someone. Too many MPs have proved unworthy of it. Moreover the party system, by reducing private members to state-funded obedient servants, has severely damaged the House of Commons."
What is to be done in order that this deplorable situation can be reversed? Well, H.L. Mencken reportedly said:
"It doesn't take a majority to make a rebellion; it takes only a few determined leaders and a sound cause."
As the Lib/Lab/Con have such a grip on our political scene - as mentioned previously - and also basically control what appears in our media, the opportunity of the British people to see through the charade our political elite practise is undoubtedly remote. It is logical therefore to believe that any change will be damn difficult to achieve through the ballot box as whilst it would appear "others" percentage share is rising in opinion polls, albeit it slowly, the danger is that by the time "others" gain any substantial following our society will be even more 'regulated and ordered' than it presently is. Those of us who believe in our country; who believe in self-governance; who believe in individual freedom do have "a sound cause" - what we lack is the leadership, someone with "fire in his belly" who will publicly brand those who have betrayed the trust given them as a collection of vacuous, venal and self-centred cretins.

It is my belief that such leadership should forget that they are British and that the British 'play fair according to the rules'; that they should forgo being 'nice' as being 'nice' gains nothing; that they should forget the long words and employ a little good old 'Anglo-Saxon' (omitting, naturally, the necessity of having those words translated into heaven knows how many other languages). For far too long the Lib/Lab/Con have been allowed to debate amongst themselves - witness the Leaders "debate" at the last general election and where that got us! Why do not the leaders of other parties - UKIP, LPUK, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru begin a programme of daily demands for a public debate with the leaders of the Lib/Lab/Con on governance, per se, of the UK? Why, for example, do not those parties that wish for the UK to withdraw from the EU not begin a programme of daily demands for a cost/benefit analysis of that membership? Were such campaigns to be started, the longer the Lib/Lab/Con prevaricate, the more they would be held to ridicule for not accepting the challenge and I wager, the more the public would "get on board" - wondering why the challenge was being avoided and increasingly demanding that the various debates did take place. 

All avenues open in a democracy must surely be tried first because the alternative is revolution and that will not be pretty, will be bloody and should not need to take place in what I believe is still a civilised country. Whichever path is eventually followed, we the people need a leader - the question is: Do we have one?


Sue said...

I have been asking myself that question too. As far as UKIP are concerned (who are the moment seem to be our only hope), why aren't they making more noise?

Why aren't they publicising their other policies?

Perhaps we need a woman this time, like Boadicea?

Hell hath no fury and all that....

WitteringsfromWitney said...

"why aren't they making more noise?

Why aren't they publicising their other policies?"

Sue I have been asking this for yonks now and only on Thursday repeated the same two questions to Gawain Towler when we briefly met!

Sue said...

What did he say? I am starting to get the impression that they're playing games with us and don't really want to get out of Europe or gain extra membership!

Have they been bought?

The Gray Monk said...

Our country is, and has been, in the hands of a political 'elite' for a long time now. The political elite is not confined to control of the Parties either, you have to include the Upper Eschelons of the Civil Service in this category as they are the people who actually run the country, the "elected" Members are just the ideological frontmen.

Take a long hard look at the Civil Service and the leadership of all the major parties - public school, upper middle class, accounting or law degrees, careers in politics or the civil service (entering at Grdae 7 or above, never at the 'coal face') where the attendance of course at the Civil Service College remains the only avenue of promotion. You rapidly discover that none of these people have had any real contact with the real world.

Democracy only works where there is a real chance of changing everyone at the level of government represented by Westmister/Whitehall. Why is it that we epect the Minsiter to resign when his Permanent Under Secretary lies to Parliament? Why do we expect the eected dummy to take the fall when the Civil Servants in his department are so incompetent that they draw up specifications for things like computer systems without consulting anyone who knows anything about them - then hide the fact that they have spent five or six times the approved budget trying to make the unworkable work?

They get away with it because our antiquated and frankly unfair "first past the post" system of elections means that if I haven't voted for the winning Party, my vote is ignored and wasted, no matter how that is spun. Party Whips mean that my views and wishes will be ignored at every level and forcing me to vote on a one vote, party system means that I am often forced to vote for a slate of manifesto ambitions I would reject utterly if given the choice.

Is it any wonder that just over 50% of the voters bother to vote? It won't change the outcome of anything even if they do. To make matters worse, the "tribal vote" means that if I am in an area where one or other party could win no matter that the candidate is a complete Neanderthal or worse, my vote doesn't count anyway. The voting system has to be reformed, root and branch, and the political system in the UK has to be reformed, starting with the relationship between the political clases and the civil service.

Our politicians are out of touch with the voters and the civil servants are bomb-proof and can screw up the world without fear of reprisal. They are unelected, so can screw the voters knowing that a change of government won't have any impact on them at all...

The problem is not Europe, it is right there in London.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Sue: The answer was a shrug of the shoulders. The problem is Sue that as with all parties only a select few get access to the man who matters - and I do have access, but seems my view counts for nowt.

TGM: Accept what you say about the Civil Service and have posted questions about that.

I have to say though whatever system of electing MPs is adopted, while the leaders and whips hold the power they do and while MPs can be tempted with cabinet or pseudo-cabinet positions, greed will out so that MPs become 'bought'. Therefore until that is stopped the problems you outline will remain.

The problem is Europe and it is with our MPs and Civil Service. It is a chicken and egg scenario and has to be 'unscrambled'to use that metaphor (and pun).

I still unfortunately believe that the only way out of this mess is a revolution, but as just posted do we have a leader for that?

James Higham said...

Last Thursday Ian Parker-Joseph and I attended a Bruges Group meeting at which the speakers were Bill Cash MP and Peter Oborne.

Do you mean Not Applicable and you?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

JH: May well have been him - who can tell?

Anonymous said...

My comment has turned into a post for tomorrow WfW.

But you're right - we have to get past this party loyalty thing, and we need a leader.

Where's Arthur when you want him?

Anonymous said...

UKIP is spreading its other policies and we do have an excellent leader with Nigel Farage.
One of the most inspiring speakers in the country.
We need to get him elected as an MP though - that is the problem.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

A: Agree on NF, but believe he needs to 'up the anti' somewhat.

As to UKIP spreading their policies - if only........

Anonymous said...

why was the permission of our Parliament not sought prior to military action being undertaken?

Because having to ask NATO's permission is another step towards world government. Van Rompuy said so. So did Billious Clinton. Americans are cheesed off, too - although you'd be hard pressed to find a Congressman (apart from Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) who care about, or are even aware of the implications for national sovereignty and the democratic process which this momentous action invokes). Judge Napolitano aired this issue last week.

What so many people overlook and what politicians don't want to discuss, is the effect that international treaties have on our sovereignty and democracy. The examples are legion: ACTA, Codex Alimentarius, WHO, WTO, Sustaintable Development (ICLEI), to name but a few. All of these are labels on my blog, but I rarely see them on other blogs, apart from those of a libertarian bent.

No, we don't have a democracy - we have the illusion of one. The watered down (and therefore useless) "recall" mechanism, and the disappearance of the much vaunted primaries as a means of selecting parliamentary candidates show the contempt that the CP has for democracy, its determination to gain power, at all costs and its unwillingness to implement true localism.

I am mystified as to why UKIP doesn't publicise Farage's brilliant interviews more widely.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Fausty: Can't fault your post - except to say my side-bar is pretty full as it is!

Re Ukip - I have been saying that for yonks to those at the top. They could easily mail out links to those they know run ukip supporting blogs - Doh!

IanPJ said...


So glad you got that post out, I have been a little tied up with hacking problems.

JH, Census over, I am IanPJ again...