Wednesday, 2 November 2011

We have a democracy? Sorry, Charles, but we don't!

Charles Crawford who has served as HM Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Poland, has an article on the Telegraph website entitled: "The eurozone crisis is eroding our democracy. How do we withdraw our consent from being governed like this?". Whilst naturally being slightly hesitant in taking to task one who is no doubt far better educated than I, who has served his country in the diplomatic field and must therefore have a far better understanding of what constitutes a democracy, I have to immediately ask: What democracy, Charles?

A reasonable definition of a democracy is one by government, in which the people have an equal voice in decisions affecting their lives and, ideally, includes an equal and more or less direct participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. There is not, I believe, an 'accepted' definition of democracy however, where a form of democracy excludes the people from the legislative process, I would contend that that system is not one that can be classified as a democracy. 

When a situation exists whereby 'representatives' are elected for a period of 4/5 years and during that period can propose and pass laws without the approval of those they are meant to represent, then we do not have a democracy. When a situation exists whereby the leaders of those representatives deny the people a voice on the question of their sovereignty, then we do not have a democracy. When a situation exists whereby the leaders of those representatives can dictate how the votes of those representatives are to be cast, then we do not have a democracy. When a situation exists whereby a law with which the people disagree can be passed without the opportunity of the people to voice their dissent, then we do not have a democracy. What the foregoing demonstrates is not that of a system of democracy, rather a system of democratised dictatorship. Consider: in our democracy we vote first and then take orders - in a true dictatorship we could at least save ourselves the bother of voting.

At the risk of being accused of repetition, I must repeat the question: why do the people need governing? In the words of Ronald Reagan:
"....we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?"
How have we allowed a situation to arise whereby we are dictated to by a very small section of our society who have a far lesser appreciation of the values of honesty, honour and principle? If the people, as paymaster and the true 'government' of this nation, wish to constrain the excesses of political power - which is all too evident today - then we must move to a participatory form of democracy, one along the lines of Switzerland.


graham wood said...

Great post, and sadly all true.
Only a wilful ignoramus could claime we have anything approaching a democracy - except perhaps for a few hours on polling day, and then it is eclipsed by "business as usual"
For all the reasons you give we have not democracy worth speaking of.

I have long advocated your solution:

"then we must move to a participatory form of democracy, one along the lines of Switzerland. "

Maybe not perfect but about 95% better than our system,

WitteringsfromWitney said...

gw: Thank you for your kind comment! I don't believe you were, but I would never classify Charles Crawford as an 'ingoramus'!

That you are a believer in that which I favour is welcome news!

Richard H. said...

Great post and absolutely true, spot on, in my humble opinion.

Until such time as their is appreciable change such as you suggest, I feel we have far greater power in our collective and "selective" consumerism than we could ever have in a singular vote under the current system.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

RH: I can but thank you too for your kind comment. Much appreciated!

IanPJ said...

As always WfW you are spot on with your analysis.

The Swiss model for the UK is one that I both support and encourage amongst those I meet. When the real participatory nature, at the local, cantonal and national level of what is the oldest democracy in action is explained, most I speak to welcome it.

One can but hope that we may have the opportunity to bring this form of democracy, of the people, by the people, for the people to these shores.

Mick said...

100% agree with your comments.
I agree with the Swiss system; even more so than most might as I'm a dual national Swiss/British and get to participate in many referendums each year.
We really don't have democracy in this country, just party politics.

TomTom said...

Democracy is simply extending the franchise in order to justify extending the tax base and then using 'electoral college' type moves to remove the threat of "mob rule" so City interests stay in control through plastic puppets like Miliband, Clegg, Cameron

WitteringsfromWitney said...

IPJ: Thank you for your kind comment. Totally agree and I find the same. Unfortunately come elections they still resort to tribalism........!

M: Thank you too! Interesting in view of your dual citizenship. Anytime you felt like writing about it, email me and I will publish as a guest post - length immaterial.

TT: Which is why I want a move to a participatory democracy!