Friday, 27 May 2011

More on our democratic deficit

"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is apt to spread discontent among those who are."
H. L. Mencken

Richard North, EU Referendum, continues his series of posts on the political problems encapsulated within our democracy and suggests a voter's alliance and in so doing links to CallingEngland, in which post her crie de coeur is:
"There is no political party or even an outsider who can lead us out of this mess. The change that must happen must come from us as individuals and we must be responsible for our own actions instead of looking to others. No-one will come."
The more I consider Richard's idea the more attractive it appears as it is becoming even more obvious that as Lord Acton, the British historian, who said: "All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." these words are proven to be increasingly more evident by the day.

Nothing illustrates that more than the leaders of the Lib/Lab/Con who all maintain that our country's membership of the European Union is necessary in order for us to succeed in the world. Power has indeed corrupted the reasoning of those three men - with opinion poll after opinion poll showing that the country wants a referendum on EU membership, they repeatedly refuse to grant one. MPs elected to Parliament are controlled by their party leaders and are forced through the whipping system to place party before their country and constituents. Political manifestos are produced at the time of general elections, the contents of which bear little relation to what actually is subsequently promulgated into law - and in some noteable examples manifesto promises are completely ignored.

The foregoing are examples of a situation which cannot and must not be allowed to continue. As I have stated on many occasions the present political system is enacted on the basis that politicians are those with the power and that the people must serve the politicians - when in fact it is the reverse that is true, namely that power rests with the people and politicians are no more than servants of the people. In this context Richard North poses the question of how to we get from where we are to the position where we wish to be - a people free from central government interference. He makes a telling point when he writes:

"..... the answer is to recognise that we are seeking to overthrow the status quo, changing the order of things. That makes us, by definition, revolutionaries - and no revolution ever succeeded by working within the system."

which kinda makes a mockery of Cameron's stated wish to change the European Union from within - but again I am guilty of digressing.

Much has been written on how to fix our democratic system and the cure for all our ills would seem to be the creation of an English parliament, one to rival that of Scotland and the Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland. There is also a movement for the United Kingdom to become a confederation, one comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whilst our country remains a member of the EU, all the creation of an English parliament would do is to cement the break-up of the United Kingdom - a course of action on which the EU is intent in accordance with it's NUTS programme. In any event all that the creation of an English parliament, or a confederation, will accomplish is yet more politicians resulting in more cost to the public purse. Yet another cure for our ills is outlined in "The Plan" (see righthand sidebar) , a treatise by Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan, in which they propose a "100 day plan". Ukip have also their version as the panacea to the problem of national politics and governance here (page 13). The problem with all these ideas is that we are still left with pesky politicians - and far too many of them!

To add my twopennworth to the mix - and admittedly not yet fully 'thought-through - it would seem that a mix of the US and Swiss system of government might just well provide that for which Richard North wishes. First, reduce the number of MPs elected to Westminster (they wouldn't be needed as all that Westminster would be left with would be matters such as defense of the realm, foreign policy etc); devolve to all county local authorities responsibility for internal matters - health, education, law & order - whilst also giving them tax-raising powers; and combining that with Richard North's idea for annual referendums.

Ok, so that may well produce some anomolies within the UK on how health, education, law& order are managed within the UK - so what? By giving local county authorites tax-raising powers - and here I 'pick-up' on a point mentioned in "The Plan" - it would create something I do not believe we have ever had in this country; namely a downward pressure on taxation.

Anyway, just thought I would 'stir the pot' even more..................................


The Filthy Engineer said...

I could go with that. makes sense to me. I'd be quite glad to get rid of my MP. I've never had him grace my doorstep to ask for my vote, and when I've written to him it takes months for a bland "Don't rock the Boat" type reply.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TFE Thanks - I'll put you down as a convert and first member!

James Higham said...

I think they're well aware of how we feel. Just ignoring it.

a serf on the land of the British EU barons said...

A leading voice claiming no leader will come is not to be followed. How typical of this age that it does not believe in a man that cannot be corrupted, and frankly, therein lies the problem. It indicates corruption even without power; widespread corruption that means the holy grail - if it happens to be an lowly egg cup - will never be the vessel of choice.

Anonymous said...

The fact you would not post my comment about North shows that you are as bad as the scum you want to change.

My comment was not that bad but you have bottled it you loser.

a serf on the land of the British EU Barons said...

I am sure that there must have been a technical hitch? I for one would like to see what Anon posted. I hope that you can recover his/her post. Ta.

Woodsy42 said...

"must have been a technical hitch?"

Blogger has been messing up erratically and inconsistently for over a week.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

JH: I am reminded of the words of Ghandi about being ignored.....

serf: You have, to a certain extent, lost me...... The fact that all politicians are not trusted is a reasonable starting point for the belief that such an animal exists in the first place, bearing in mind our experiences to date?

Anon: I haven't the faintest idea of what you complain. I do not control comments in that providing word verification is completed successfully, comments are automatically posted by blogger.

In view of that I presume you retract your comments about scum, bottling and loser? Thank You.

serf: see previous response please?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

W42: Thanks for that piece of sensible and reasonable commenting!

The Filthy Engineer said...

"The fact you would not post my comment about North shows"

Is it stuck in the blogger spam filter?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TFE: I have a blogger spam filter? Really? Where? And does spam have an integrated homing device for certain comments?

Seriously, never had anyone complain their comment did not get past word verification.......

PeterCharles said...

I agree we need to get politicians per se out of the mix, both local and national. My solution is that there no longer be official political parties and general elections effectively be scrapped. Instead of voting for parties we should vote once a year for Bills, published in detail and open to public debate, properly costed etc. and a provision that the sponsors of the Bill, could be a party, an organisation, a corporation, even a private individual, are personally and jointly liable if those costings are wrong. Similarly the budget should be voted on annually, broken down into detail and the details voted on.

There are policies from almost every party I could support with the proper implementation, but there is no party that has a majority of policies that I would support, nor am I happy for the politicians to decide implementation of those I do.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PC: What an interesting comment! Thank you for your visit as it is, from memory, your first?

Can see one or two complications and contradictory problems - need to consider and length and if possible, time permitting, come back to you.

Will agree with your last para - I too can see policies in each party (however no doubt one policy may well negate one from another party - but hey ho), but not one party with which I agree in total - and such a party could never exist, as I'm sure you would accept.

PeterCharles said...

There are all kinds of possible variations on this theme from simple to complex.

The key point is to break away from the 'trust us, we will put everything right, we know what you want' party system followed by the 'thanks for your vote, now get lost for five years' and the incessant tinkering with everything. We need to be able to accept or reject specifics, especially spending and tax raising, that is the only truly democratic system.

I don't often respond here, very occasionally and previously anonymously as none of my other identities seemed to work.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PC: Agree totally with your second para! There is also to consider the 'hold' party leaders have on their party and MPs whereby the fodder have to put party before country and constituents, plus the fact we should not be asked to elect fodder!

Re your third, now you know what identity works - please return!

a serf on the land of the British EU Barons said...

Part One. A leading voice who baulks at leadership is not to be followed.

Part Two. Politicians are corrupt, but leadership we need will not be corrupt.

Part Three. It is a sign of our own corruption that we cannot believe in pure-heartedness.

Part Four. If we are corrupt, then we will not see real leadership when it comes.

Anonymous, still interested in what you think you posted.

cuffleyburgers said...

North is on the right track, but other improvements would be to re-elect 20% of MPs every year. If there was a genuine open-primary system in operation this would tend strongly to improve the quality of MPs and the assiduity of their work to represent their constitutuents.

The idea of devolving all health, education and Loranorder (and of course planning) issues to county or metropolitan level is a very good one.

In order to win this important battle we have to understand why we are where we are - which is thanks largely to Gramsci and his left admirers who have with the aid of the soviet union and the connivance of western governments spent 70 years since the defeat of fascism, inculating a culture of collecivist failure in the youth and the humanist institutions of the western world. The EU is rotten with it and is indeed a flower of it, the GB is its greatest achievement - this glorious nation which has despite its ups and downs given voice to Adam Smith, JS Mill, invented soft religion (the anglican church was for long enough essentially benign) defeated slavery, napoleon kaiser bill and hitler is now to all intents and purposes controlled by the BBC and the likes of Sharon fucking Shoesmith. Ed Miliband FFS.

That is the struggle before us and it will take a generation, but the alternative is to spend our collective dotage shouting at the TV.

The Gray Monk said...

"No revolution ever succeeded by working within the system."

Wrong. The Fabian Society was founded a century agao to do just that. he objective was to bring about a "Socialist World Order" and it has succeeded. Fabian thinking now dictates the modern political ideologies of all parties, it pervades the philosophy taught in our schools and universities and it dominates the thinking within the civil service and the political classes, the media and particularly the BBC and those who espouse and promote Political Correctness.

It has never been overt, it is subtle, incidious and entirely responsible for the mess our government is now, and the erosion of our rights and our democracy. It has undermined everything in our society.

I'd say that's a successful revolution.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

cuffleyb: Pleased to see you 'getting on board', however on the matter of 20% ofM MPs being elected annually, I much prefer the idea of an annual licence to act idea proposed by North.

TGM: I take you point,however would counter that their revolution is one still in progress and as such cannot be counted as successful until it is finished.

Anonymous said...

The anti eu groups think an English Parliament is a pro european plot.The pro eu groups think an English Parliament is an anti eu plot,which is it?
An English Parliament does not mean another layer of politicians and expense. That is the same argument put about as the pro europeans and is a lie.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

A: If the UK remains as a whole then yes an English Parliament is another layer of govt - if not then yes an English Parliament would be needed.

Small Parliament less MPs as dealing with only defence, immigration, foreign affairs, remainder dealt with at local level and on a 'yearly contract' per "Referism".

I rpt whats not to like?