Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Comments

Please take note: all outstanding comments have now been replied to.

Let any discussion commence...............

Hitler lives - albeit via a sex-change........

"Obviously, there must be some connection between the subordination of actual individuals and the grotesque exaltation of symbolic ones like Kim Il Sung."
Christopher Hitchens
From Richard North, EU Referendum:
"However, very much in the character of a mountain meeting an immovable object, there was a whisper, mid-month that Merkel was looking to overhaul the German constitution, with a view to emasculating the powers of the constitutional court. This story is now gathering momentum, if not substance, with a further report in Speigel, suggesting that the court is at risk of losing its jurisdiction over European issues."
That the leaders of Germany and the United Kingdom both appear to have a common aim, namely to indulge in a gross exaltation of symbolism, cannot now be beyond doubt. Perhaps they both need reminding of yet another quotation, one apparently misattributed:
"Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad."
See what happens, dear reader, when you have unfettered 'representative democracy'? You end up with an 'elected dictatorship'!



Lies, damned lies and statistics (2)

"Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital."
Aaron Levenstein
Helen, Your Freedom and Ours, posts on an exchange twixt Lords Pearson and Sassoon during the recent debate on the former's Bill. When discussing the economic aspect of our membership of the European Union (and not, as Helen quite correctly states, our relationship with Europe), it appears that statistics were quoted by those taking part from three sources: The Pink Book, Treasury and the Office of Budget Responsibility. It is a well known fact that when in a discussion, protagonists will naturally select those statistics that are of most use to their argument. It is extremely difficult for any observer to make a judgement, following any debate on any matter, if there is not one accepted reference point.

Another question arises, which is if Pearson's Bill succeeded (which it won't - pound to a penny - probably being killed off after Committee Stage) what figures would be used in any cost/benefit analysis and from what source(s). If, in the plural, how would we be able to agree or disagree with the findings? The Office of Budget Responsibility is supposed to be 'independent', but one has to ask whether any body set up by government is independent - vested interests/pressure from the government-of-the-day........?

And there, dear reader, lies the problem with representative democracy and politicians - we can't trust either!

Just saying..................

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

There is a better way......... (3)

Following my initial post on the subject of direct democracy, which elicited a response from Richard North, EU Referendum, I replied. He has responded thus - and being the good chap that he is, he has saved me the trouble of supplying links to the previous posts in the 'chain'. Kindly acknowledging that my reply to his initial response raised much food for thought, he acknowledges that my reply raised an interesting question as to where democracy lies, adding a requirement to consider the nature of the demos, which supposedly drives decision-making.

We are both agreed that the UK is characterised by being one of the most centralised, top-down systems of government in the world, with local government largely financed by central government, and acting as an agent for it, with no independent status or constitution. Richard then accepts that any new settlement, therefore, must undo the Walker "reforms" of 1974, which created these giant, unresponsive and fundamentally undemocratic administrative units, with the focus on allowing communities to develop their own identities and to control their own destinies. That acceptance must surely underline the point that is made, namely that in any true form of democracy 'invertation' (is that a word?) of 'representative democracy' is an essential element of change, so that the power starts - as it must - at local level, and is controlled from there, rather than centralised, with diktats handed down from the central authority.

Making the point that, as in Bradford, there is no meaningful form of local government nationally, Richard then homes in on the root cause of the problem by raising the question of local tax raising powers. He, justifiably, makes the point that much is made of council tax; that it accounts for less than twenty percent of local government finance;  that more than sixty percent comes from central government, handed down according to arcane formulas and political prejudice. Yes, most definitely, locally raised taxation should be sufficient - and no more - to fund  the local government functions in the area, without having to go cap-in-hand to central government. Mention is made that perhaps a local income tax should be introduced, although I would personally prefer any local tax to be based on land values - a taxation method favoured by Mark Wadsworth - but, again, I digress.

Richard North and I are, I believe, both agreed that any budget of expenditure - be that national or local - should be presented to the electorate in the form of a quotation, one that requires acceptance or rejection. These 'budget quotations' should have inbuilt a reasonable 'excess' to cater for emergencies - therefore that would negate any necessity for any 'surplus' to be passed upwards to 'central'. The premise that Richard North proposes - that direct democracy needs to start at the bottom, controlling the flow of money – which should move upwards to the centre, by permission, not downwards by fiat; that politicians should always be made acutely aware that they spend our money, and should be required to ask for it each year, is unarguable.

It is worth mentioning one important fact here, one that has an immediate effect on the cost of living for the individual and, ultimately, the economic benefit of the country. As I have previously posted, many times, were local district councils (which is the closest equation to a Swiss Canton) able to set their own local tax revenue rates, we would have a situation never, to my knowledge, ever experienced in this country - namely a downward pressure on taxation. It is also worth remembering that the amount of VAT raised equates almost exactly with the amount central government grants to local authorities, so there should be no increase in overall taxation rates - which could of course be lowered nationally were our country to adopt a 'flat-tax' policy and raise the minimum 'tax-rate' - but again I digress....

Once again, I have to agree with Richard's closing paragraph where he writes that top-down government is not democracy - however I cannot accept, nor fail to see why, the alternative should result in what he terms 'giant administrative units'. Overall, methinks that Richard North and I are not a million miles away from agreement. On that basis, perhaps an 'agreed' form of democracy could be arrived at, one that could be presented to every political party with the suggestion that it be adopted - and if not, why not? Failure to accept direct democracy would indeed illustrate that the present polical class are indeed a dictatorial entity with self-preserving interests based on personal power and venality. Following that the next step, for those that believe direct democracy holds the key to our future, must be to draw up a 'codifying' document, one that draws together the Magna Carta, the Bills of Rights, Common Law and the basic principles of direct democracy into a new 'constitution'. That is the next 'step' and one that I intend undertaking and if there is anyone who would like to be involved, then please contact me.

So true - at both levels.......

Pat Condell has a 'youtube' on the subject of membership of the European Union (H/T: Muffled Vociferation), his comments having resonance not just to the EU but also to our own 'representative democracy'. Much as I believe this man 'talks sense', on this occasion he appears to have ignored what might be called the 'elephant in the room' when he states that our democracy is far from perfect and that, from what he has observed, it is the only form of government that can be trusted with our freedom.

Discussing the fact that our politicians ignore the wishes of the people, where membership of the European Union is concerned, Condell states:
"They fully expect the people to go through the motions, as usual, at the next general election and vote them straight back in."
Continuing:
"When you decry people a voice and disconnect them from the governing process you close a safety valve and unless it is opened again you have guaranteed that sooner or later there will be an explosion."
When I write that Condell has ignored the 'elephant in the room', I refer to the fact that he appears to accept that representative democracy is the only acceptable variation of democracy - when, of course, there is a better way.

It does, indeed, not get any more fundamental than the right to decide how and by whom we are governed and that without that right we might as well have no rights at all. This statement is applicable not only to national level, but also to local level.

One day, when the people are made aware and thus realise that 'there is a better way' and accept that fact, there will I believe - as Condell prophesies - be an explosion.

Anyway, for those who would like to view this video:


Interesting...........

I happened across this document, issued by the Ministry of Justice, which lists JHA (Title V) opt-in and Schengen opt-out decisions taken by our government between 1 December 2009 and the present. If for no other reason than it probably is but a microcosm of decisions that are being taken by politicians which will have a profound effect on the future of our country, it becomes important when bearing in mind some of the decisions mentioned.

It is worth noting that, other than 'publicity' on government websites, to my knowledge not one mention of these decisions has been made in the MSM, an information area on which the public rely to know what is being done in the name - and their name - of a 'representative democracy' - aka a 'democratised dictatorship'. If we are to have 'transparency in government' (a Coalition promise) then should not our government have used their mouthpiece, the MSM, to inform us?

Whilst this country is not a member of the 'Schengen Area', a number of documents have been published by the European Union on:  'smart borders'; establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union; the listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement; conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer; and a Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) - A process for early warning, preparedness and management of asylum crises - all of which have implications for our country.

We may not, presently, be a member of the Schengen Area but might I perhaps remind readers of the avowed aim of the EU, one that involves 'ever closer union'. Readers may well remind me that we have an opt-out, to which I would ask when has the EU respected the 'legality' of any democratic process, especially when it thwarted their aims of 'ever closer union'? (for example: Irish, French & Netherland referenda).

Meanwhile, the 'Twitterati' and the MSM are transfixed on today's events in the House of Commons involving George Osborne's 'Autumn Statement'..........

Needless to say - and apologies for the repitition, but it is important; had we had direct democracy and referism; first, we wouldn't be a member of the European Community - second, had these decisions been published we would have had the opportunity to accept, amend or annul them; the latter two hastening our exit from the EU!

Just saying.....................

Logic?

I have not been following Osborne's speech but I see on Twitter the following from Open Europe:
"Osborne: I'm worried about EU's green targets, therefore we will help SMEs to cope with the Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme"
So let me understand this, George. We pay billions of pounds to enjoy membership of an organisation, who in turn decide rules on how we should organise our own society, said rules imposing inordinate costs on our businesses. We then provide even more money to those businesses in order to mitigate the effects of decisions made by the organisation to which we belong.........

Err......................

Of course, under direct democracy and referism, Osborne would not be the economic prat he appears to be - but I digress............................

Priorities (2)

Richard North, EU Referendum, posts on what he correctly calls a 'pigs-ear' policy concerning our aircraft carriers (and the lack of, presently). The latest Public Accounts Committee report on this subject can be read here.

This news comes shortly after the announcement that this country is to provide £1billion of aid to Africa and the well known fact that the Accountability Report produced by this year's summit hosts Canada shows that in 2009, the UK devoted 0.52% of its GDP to aid - 11.5 billion US dollars (£7.75 billion) - with the total projected to rise to 0.6% this year. We also know that it is Cameron's avowed intention that overseas aid will be increased to 0.7% of GDP by 2013.

Coupled with that, we have the ongoing problems involved with the care of our elderly illlustrated by a recent report of a lack of care in hospitals and care homes. We also read that councils are diverting money provided by central government grants for elderly care, to 'plug' holes in other programmes.

Presently politicians extract money from taxpayers and spend it as they see fit, presumably where foreign aid is concerned to make themselves feel good and look good on the international stage. The fact that their decisions can leave this nation with a military defence deficit; that their decisions mean money is not being spent on care of the elderly and their quality of life; presumably means nothing to the political class.

Of course, were we to have direct democracy with a touch of "Referism", how politcians spent our money would depend on their obtaining our agreement beforhand.

Just saying................

The Judas Class


A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.

An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.

But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.
 
For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims,

he wears their face and their arguments, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.
 
He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.
 
A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.
 
Marcus Tullius Cicero.

 
Public participation in the Judas Project will soon be available.
 
 
Cross-posted from IanPJonPolitics

Monday, 28 November 2011

Hmm, they say history doesn't repeat itself........

Courtesy of Helen, Your Freedom and Ours, I reproduce:

(click to enlarge)

Control of the people (2)

I first posted on this subject here, back in August, following the riots. Courtesy of one of my commenters on my blog, Tom Tom, I am directed to a guest-post on ZeroHedge by Tyler Durden in which various matters are discussed - and one which is well worth reading in full. However, I wish to concentrate on one section of Durden's post in which he discusses the subject of people control. Whilst this post is written from an American 'angle' the points he makes are just as true for this country:
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928 

Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda to control the masses, would be so proud of his disciples running our country today. He clearly believed only an elite few were intellectually capable of running the show. Essentially, he hit upon the concept of the 1% telling the 99% what they should think and believe over eighty years ago. The mechanisms for controlling the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the population are so much more efficient today. The conditioning begins when we are children, as every child will be bombarded with at least 30,000 hours of propaganda broadcast by media corporations by the time they reach adulthood. Their minds are molded and they are instructed what to believe and what to value. Those in control of society want to keep the masses entertained at an infantile level, with instant gratification and satisfying desires as their only considerations. The elite have achieved their Alpha status through intellectual superiority, control of the money system, and control of the political process. Their power emanates from eliminating choices, while giving the illusion of choice to the masses. People think they are free, when in reality they are slaves to a two party political system, a few Wall Street banks, and whatever our TVs tell us to buy.
Our entire system is designed to control the thoughts and actions of the masses. In many ways it is done subtly, while recently it has become more bold and blatant. It is essential for the ruling elite to keep control of our minds through media messages and the educational system. It is not a surprise that our public education system has methodically deteriorated over the last four decades. The government gained control over education and purposely teaches our children selected historical myths, social engineering gibberish and only the bare essentials of math and science. The government creates the standardized tests and approves the textbooks. We are left with millions of functionally illiterate children that grow into non-critical thinking adults. This is the exact result desired by the 1%. If too many of the 99% were able to ignore the media propaganda and think for themselves, revolution would result. This is why the moneyed interests have circled the wagons, invoked police state thug tactics, and used all the powers of their media machine to squash the OWS movement. It threatens their power and control.
“Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson
A highly educated engaged citizenry would be a danger to the existing social order. The 1%, educated at our finest universities, does not want average Americans to obtain a great education for a reasonable price. They want them to get a worthless diploma at an excessively high price tag and become debt slaves to the Wall Street 1%. They want uneducated, indebted consumers, not educated productive citizens. Our republic has been slowly perverted since the time of its inception. The insidious process had been slow and methodical until 1913. The establishment of the Federal Reserve by an elite group of bankers and their politician friends and the establishment of a personal income tax created the conditions that have allowed a small cabal of powerful men to dictate the course of our economic, political, social, and military policies for the last 98 years. Anyone that chooses to open their eyes and awake from the propaganda induced stupor can see the result of allowing a small group of corrupt authoritarian men using their power to pervert our government into tyranny. The majority remains oppressed, buried under trillions of debt, while the shysters reap obscene profits, poison the worldwide economic system, and walk away unscathed in the aftermath of their crimes."
It is unlikely that any one of the problems about which Bernays or Dreyden write would have happened under a system of democracy called direct democracy, because the 'political elite' would have been constrained by 'people power'.

'1984' has indeed arrived, albeit late - but then you can never rely on politicians to get anything to run on time!

There is a better way........ (2)

Richard North, EU Referendum, has responded to my original post here and here, the latter link being his 'critique' of my post. A number of points thus arise:
  • My belief that direct democracy is better than the present 'charade' that passes for democracy has been correctly summarised
  • It may be I am guilty of slackness in my use of the English language because when suggesting that this country should adopt the Swiss model of direct democracy I am not suggesting a 'cut 'n paste' operation, merely the principle of devolution of powers down to the lowest level; cutting the size of government; cutting the dictatorial attitude of politicians; relaxing the centrist control that is all too apparent today; allowing people to choose the type of society in which they live.
  • Never having visited Switzerland I have to accept the criticism of 'petty rules & regulations', however might it be possible that the petty level of rules & regulation may have something to do with their love of 'preciseness'? That the British are more 'laid back' where rules and regulations are concerned means that the criticisms mentioned would not necessarily arise?
  • The derivation of the word 'democracy' is accepted; however if 'power' is to be exerted, then I would rather it be by a majority view within the area that I live, than a majority view of a small minority of our society who have their own 'agenda' and are totally disconnected from the people
  • All systems of democracy have their inherrent dangers and pitfalls, yet is that not what this country experienced in May 2010 when we ended up with 'government' being hijacked resulting in a mish-mash of policies presented in a 'programme for government' for which no-one had voted?
  • Unfortunately the present system of representative democracy produces what I have termed 'democratised dictatorship' in that every 4/5 years a political party is elected and who, in their term of office, can pretty well introduce whatever laws - and however draconian - they like. We have no means of protesting, amending or annuling those laws. Had we the process of unfettered referendum and initiative, then the system of representative democracy might be acceptable - with a few caveats.
  • If government is not a force for good; if in an ideal world we would not have one and the only reason we should tolerate it is because not having one is marginally worse, then surely it must follow that government should be small and constrained - something direct democracy accomplishes.
  • If restraint is required, one that makes governance difficult and thus forces people to deal with their own problems; then does not direct democracy, involving the devolution of power down to the lowest level, achieve this?
  • The idea of referism for budgets is totally agreed, but then surely it should be agreed for any proposal that politicians wish to make? As in the economic sense, so in the political sense does it become necessary to 'starve the beast'.
Just a few initial thoughts in reply..............

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Know thy master........

Patrick Hennessy, another icon of 'journalism', writing in the Daily Telegraph reports on a 'last-ditch' attempt to de-rail HS2.

For someone who purports to be a 'Political Editor', should he not know that a 'comprehensive' strategy for transport, one including road, rail and air is, in fact, out of our hands? Just how many times do I have to point this out? Or this? And just what the hell does someone who qualified as an accountant, but who is obviously at a loss when being questioned on economics, know about chuff-chuffs?

And we plebs have to rely on Hennessy for news, someone who has 5,898 followers on Twitter, someone who obviously knows 'squat-diddly' about that which he 'writes'? Hell, he can't even confirm whether Greening, as Transport Secretary, will have cleared any agreement she may make with Siim Kallas*!

'Sheesh'! We are indeed being fed a load of 'Kebab'!


* And who is Siim Kallas? Just another 'political ladder climber', like Greening!

And to 'Finnish'......*

a comment from a reader in Finland on this post:
"I am from Finland. I have read many things from internet sites only, of which TV and newspapers don’t tell. Actually censorship in the mainstream media makes my country a dictatorship, ruled by the political and economic elite.

Finland is a corrupt country. Nobody can have a public post without being a member of a political party. In Finland all high-ranking officials, who earn 5000 euros a month or more, are members of political parties.

No one can criticize the elite in the mainstream media. Any one who criticizes leading politicians, will lose his or her job.

Finland as well as neighboring Sweden and Norway are dictatorship countries.
"
 "No one can criticize the elite in the mainstream media. Any one who criticizes leading politicians, will lose his or her job." So that is how our lot manage to always get a fair hearing in the MSM...........;;;

Just suggesting...................


* Well not quite - there's probably more tonight...............!

Whilst not 'Bullingdoning'

one has to wonder whether David Cameron actually studied the English language, the meaning of words and the use thereof.

Courtesy of England Expects, David Cameron replying to a question from Nigel Farage:
"I made a policy of having a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, and if the Lisbon treaty had been still extant at the time of government, we would have had a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. I don't believe Britain should leave the European Union, but I do believe there are powers we can retrieve from Europe to have a better balance."
From the Concise Oxford Dictionary:
"Extant: adj: (especially of a document) still existing, surviving [L. exstare exstant]"
This from a man who wishes to sign agreements on behalf of our nation, a man who cannot understand the meaning of a simple legal term? Sheesh!

So as England Expects states: when is the referendum then, Mr. Cameron?

Just asking...............

Even the 'Maggietollah' didn't understand 'democracy'

An article in the Daily Telegraph yesterday by that doyen of British journalism, Charles Moore illustrated that she too actually believed in 'central control' - aka, politicians know best.

Charles Moore writes:
"The idea behind the drama is the belief, her belief, that the people without much power – the “workers not the shirkers”, small-businessmen, housewives (to use a word deployed at that time without embarrassment) – can do great things if only you let them." (Emphasis mine)
If only you let them? If only someone who, in my earlier state of ignorance, I admired, had seen fit to realise that there is a better way..........

Oh well, there is always the taxpayer........

Playing 'catch-up' with news - and the stories fed to us as news - I came across three in the Daily Telegraph which immediately caught my attention:




Of course, with 'the better way' the two proposals and the salary could have been challenged at the outset and 'killed off' - as could Cameron, Clegg, MilibandE and about 600+ other idiots, along with a horde of local government 'dictators', quangocrats, heads of fake charities; and other individuals who are a blight on the human race (and in that last group guess Huhne I'm thinking of).

You know it makes sense - don't you?

The House of Lords does 'Europe'

On Friday the second reading took place in the House of Lords on the European Union Membership (Economic Implications) Bill proposed by Lord Pearson of Rannoch. The debate can be viewed here. It merited mention in the Economic Voice today - unfortunately I did not see one mention in the Sunday Telegraph, a supposedly eurosceptic newspaper (so they would have us believe.

Either way, it is a good read (or view) and illustrates just how low some so-called parliamentarians hold their country, the people and our independence.

There is a better way.........

"All governments are more or less combinations against the people. . .and as rulers have no more virtue than the ruled. . .  the power of government can only be kept within its constituted bounds by the display of a power equal to itself, the collected sentiment of the people."
Benjamin Franklin Bache, in a Phildelphia Aurora editorial 1794
"The people should know when they're conquered." (Quintus) : "Would you, Quintus, would I? (Maximus)"
Gladiator
Over the decades politicians have gradually usurped power from the people to the point where we are now; one where it seems that when considering any aspect of our lives, we are first cajoled, then hectored and, if it becomes necessary, ordered how to lead our lives by politicians; aided and abetted by their sycophant quangos, fake charities and the like. It cannot be denied that the usurpation of power is still ongoing, especially when considering this country's membership of the European Union. Whilst the last successful military invasion of our nation was by the Normans, since when others have tried but none have succeeded, a country does not have to be taken over militarily, it can be done politically - the result, it can be argued, being identical -  and in the latter case eventually the people rebel when political rule becomes totalitarian, or authoritarian, in control - as it eventually does

It is not the intention of this post to rehash, in detail, all that is wrong with our present state of democracy as these have been mentioned in my series of 'Constitution' posts. For new readers who have not seen these - and for those that wish to refresh their memories - the posts can be read here, here, here, here and here; and readers may well recall I discussed Indirect and Direct democracy here. Digressing slightly, but relevant, I would direct you to Fausty's blog where she posts a video featuring Andrew Napolitano asking "What if?". Watch it and you will find yourself asking "What if??????" - because that which he asks is happening or has already happened! UKK41 (oh the delightful irony of taking an EU nomenclature for your area as your anti-EU blog title) 'rants' about the shortcomings of our present system of democracy, including the fact that the proposed Bill of Rights present politicians wish to draw up will not be a Bill of Rights, but more a Bill of Responsibilities; that we have too many politicians; and ends by stating that we cannot continue as we are.

For too long bloggers in general have complained about the defects in our system of democracy, yet very few have attempted to offer any alternatives - a statement not intended as criticism, to forestall any 'comeback'. One recent suggestion was posted by 'Earwig' on Max Farquar's site; my initial comment and the later one in response to Max Farquar, should leave no reader in any doubt as to my opinion of Earwig's idea. Another suggestion came from Ian Parker-Joseph, detailing steps he would like taken to solve the problems which beset us. The Grumpologist offers an alternative suggestion for the funding of political parties, one that could be held to be quite sensible were we to continue with our present democratic system.

It will be obvious from my 'Constitution' posts and also, to a lesser extent from the post questioning Indirect or Direct Democracy, that I favour a direct democracy such as that practised by Switzerland - one which places the people in control of their own destinies and reduces the role of politicians to one of being 'enablers'. My one addition to the form of democracy used in Switzerland would encompass the idea of 'bolting on' the idea of "Referism" as proposed by Richard North, EU Referendum, for national budgets - which is not the case in Switzerland. For an idea of how Switzerland's democracy works, see here, here and here. The one fact which immediately comes to one's notice is that the Swiss 'government' comprises just 7 members - contrast that with the United Kingdom with 20 Secretaries of State, plus a Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. In Switzerland the national, or federal, government deals with foreign relations, the army, customs examinations and tariffs, value added taxes and the legislation on currency, measure and weight, railways and communications to the confederation. On the question of immigration, this is handled by the Federal Office for Migration, and whilst the Federal Government sets the relevant criteria. Cantons and communes deal with other matters and we can examine them next.

Welfare:

The Swiss welfare system is better than most in that it achieves better results with far less social upheaval than we experience in this country. The rising numbers of unmarried or lone parents has placed great strain on our welfare system and has harmed our society. Obviously some lone parenting is unavoidable, however as I am sure all readers would agree it is a far from ideal way to raise children. In Britain 46% of children are born out of wedlock, whereas in Switzerland the figure is where Britain's was approximately 25 years ago, much lower at 16%. So what happens to a young mother in Switzerland with a baby but no husband or partner and nowhere to live? It is impossible to provide an answer as this problem is not dealt with on a national level, it is not even dealt with on a cantonal level; it is dealt with by the local commune. The lone parent will be visited by officials who will investigate the individuals circumstances. Initially the father will be expected to pay and the mother's family, if it is possible, will be expected to house and pay for the unmarried mother. Finally, as a last resort the local commune will provide assistance - but it should be noted that the people who pay the local commune tax will be paying part of the cost of maintenance. Imagine the embarrassment of meeting people known to the lone parent who are paying for that child - as against the attitude in this country of 'legal rights'. Is it any wonder that unmarried parenting is less common in Switzerland?

For those made redundant, a similar system applies if you need means-tested benefits. Initially those made redundant receive for a while, quite generous unemployment insurance payments from cantonal governments - however once these end the person is again dependent on their local commune. Hence there is little in the way of a black economy, which probably accounts for the fact that the rate of male employment in Switzerland is the second highest in the OECD - whilst Britain's is about 50% worse.

In the UK, our politicians spend untold £millions on maintaining their sacred cow - aka the National Health Service. It is generally acknowledged that Switzerland probably has the most successful system of health care, one based on an insurance system and choice. It is obligatory to have health insurance, but anyone has the right to choose from whom they get it as there is no state monopoly. The provider could be an insurance company connected to your line of work, it could be a trade union-run insurance co-operative, or even a private company. This obviously means that there is competition to provide the best possible health care for the lowest possible price. In turn these insurance companies have some choice over which doctors and hospitals they use, resulting in a further downward pressure on costs as those doctors and hospitals have to compete to offer the best facilities and treatment at the lowest possible price. Those Swiss citizens who are classified as poor receive credits which enable them too to select which insurance provider they wish.

Education:

Schools in Switzerland are generally far better than British ones, with control of education being local, unlike the fake control which is prevalent in this country. Primary schools are run by little communes and secondary schools and universities by the cantons - resulting in much less wasteful bureaucracy and much more direct accountability. Where the British system of education is left standing, when compared to that in Switzerland, is in the preparation of young people for work. Blair, Brown and Cameron all spout that a university education is necessary for economic success - something that Switzerland shows to be utter rubbish as only approximately 24% do in Switzerland. Most notably, in comparison to Britain, education is only compulsory until the age of 15 - however the vast majority stay on because schools, colleges and universities are extremely good. The remaining percentage of students progress to vocational training from school - but there's no 'meeja studies' subjects - its one and a half days at college and the remaining three and a half days at work. Through this regime people get the skills and work attitudes which gives a successful career. As a result Switzerland only has a 4.5% youth unemployment, compared to France which has a supposedly economy boosting 50% at university.

Further information about welfare, education, pensions, health insurance and health care can be found here, here, here, here and here.

Law & Order, Judiciary:

The practical arms of law and order, together with the judiciary are, generalizing, situated at cantonal level - although there is a Supreme Court and an Insurance Court, the latter only hearing cases involving public law insurance claims. Further reading on this here and here. The structure of policing in Switzerland is explained here and it is worth noting that the cantonal police forces are not subordinate to federal authorities. Their commanding officers report to the head of the respective cantonal or municipal department of police, who is a member of the cantonal or municipal governing council.

Waste disposal:

Waste consists of two general types: municipal, and hazardous. Municipal waste is refuse from households and small businesses; hazardous waste includes chemical, infectious or otherwise toxic waste. In general, there are two main ways to dispose of waste: by burning it (incineration) or by placing it in a lined pit (landfill). The type of waste determines how it is disposed of. Municipal waste: Since January 2000 all non-recyclable, combustible waste in Switzerland must be incinerated. In 2004 Switzerland's incineration capacity reached 3.29 million tonnes. It is no longer necessary to dispose of any combustible waste in landfills. Incinerators have undergone vast improvements in recent years and burning municipal waste now produces only minimal amounts of air pollution in Switzerland. Energy from waste incineration plants are also a source of energy: the 28 Swiss facilities generate enough electricity for 250,000 homes. This in turn means that 215,000 tonnes less oil derivatives need to be imported for heating purposes. It is not only the incineration of municipal waste in Switzerland which produces energy. The cement industry burns suitable waste such as used oils and solvents in order to cover a large amount of its energy needs. Further reading from the Green-Alliance can be found here, with a newspaper article from 2008 which reports that Switzerland, although not a member of the EU, is considered a model in waste disposal. More than five million tons of urban refuse was produced in the country in 2006, of which around half was recycled. Most of the rest was incinerated.

Trade Unions:

At the moment the Coalition has a wee problem with an impending strike which we are informed will cost the country dearly - the response of Francis Maude being one of dictatorial approach, threatening to re-write the rules. (now, where have we heard that familiar mantra that if something is wrong, what is needed is more government and more laws?) Now go read what happens in Switzerland.

Wherever one looks at the Swiss system of direct democracy it is possible to see control of their politicians by means of referenda and initiatives. Politicians have no voice in whether a referendum is held and can do little, if an initiative is presented to them, other than suggest an amendment. The initiative is then put forward to the people with three options: accept the initiative; accept the amendment; or leave things as they stand.  British politicians dismiss referenda as 'not British' and the reason for this can only be that they recognise it diminishes their 'power'. From one of the links above:
  • referendums will increase parties' willingness to compromise (otherwise a defeated party will call for a referendum)
  • referendums favour big coalitions (shared power motivates compromise, exclusion from power motivates obstructive referendums)
  • referendums increase stability (as extreme laws will be blocked by referendum, parties are less inclined to radical changes in lawmaking and voters are less inclined to call for fundamental changes in elections)
  • The two chambers of parliament meet several times annually to sessions of several weeks and between them to preparing meetings of numerous commissions. Being member of parliament is not a full time job in Switzerland, contrary to most other countries today. This means, that Swiss members of parliament are closer to everyday life of their electorate. (sic)
Note that referenda has been proven to increase stability within the political field and that being a member of Parliament is not a full-time job. In respect of the latter, I showed in Constitution (4) how the number of Members of Parliament could be curtailed, likewise their expenses. With the total devolution of power downwards, MPs would no longer need to hold constituency meetings to solve what are local problems as this would be done by local councillors - it is about time they began earning their keep! Digressing, whilst on the subject of councils, or local authorities, why do we have a county council and then district councils? Why, for example in Oxfordshire, do we pay for 74 county councillors and 47 district councillors in West Oxfordshire - with similar numbers of district councillors in Cherwell and Vale of White Horse? Why are we also paying for an Oxfordshire Rural County Council? Why can we not have one council - equivalent to a Swiss canton - and devolve, even further, certain responsibilities like that for primary schools, down to parish level?

In discussing devolution of power, the following list is some of the decisions taken by the people of Switzerland, whereas, in this country, those decisions were taken by politicians - whether national or by the EU - without any reference to the people, therefore is this not democratised dictatorship?

1985 - Referendum guarantees women legal equality with men within marriage.
1986 - Referendum opposes UN membership by three to one. Immigrant numbers restricted.
1994 - Referendum approves law making racial discrimination and denial of Nazi Holocaust illegal. Laws tightened against drugs traffickers and illegal immigrants.
2001 March - Voters reject moves to open talks on joining the European Union.
2001 June - Swiss vote narrowly in favour of allowing their soldiers to carry weapons during peacekeeping missions abroad.
2001 September - Parliament votes overwhelmingly in favour of United Nations membership, paving the way for a referendum on the issue.
2002 March - A narrow majority of Swiss vote in favour of joining the United Nations in a referendum.
2002 June - Swiss people vote in referendum to decriminalise abortion which will be allowed in first 12 weeks of pregnancy. A proposal which would have tightened the already strict abortion law is rejected in a separate referendum.
2002 November - By narrowest of margins, referendum rejects drastic tightening of asylum laws.
2003 May - Nine different issues put to referendum. Swiss vote against abolition of nuclear power, new proposals on rights for the disabled and the introduction of car-free Sundays but in favour of army cuts and changes to civil defence.
2004 September - Voters in a referendum reject moves to relax strict naturalisation laws.
2004 November - Referendum votes in favour of allowing scientific research using stem cells taken from human embryos.
2005 June - Voters in referendum support joining EU Schengen and Dublin agreements and extending rights for same-sex couples.
2005 September - Referendum vote goes in favour of opening job market to workers from the 10 newest European Union countries.
2005 November - Referendum backs five-year ban on use of genetically modified crops.
2006 September - Voters in a national referendum back plans to make their asylum laws among the toughest in the West.
2008 June - Voters reject referendum initiative to limit naturalisation of foreigners by allowing Swiss communes to vote on individual cases.
2009 November - Swiss voters approve referendum initiative banning the construction of minarets.
2010 November - Swiss voters approve referendum initiative on automatically deporting foreigners who have committed serious crimes.
2011 February - Voters in a referendum reject plans for tighter gun control.

Another matter/subject: much is made by politicians in Scotland and England about the break-up of the United Kingdom, so how about a referendum on retaining the status quo incorporating the pooling of natural resources - for example, oil and gas - on a pro-rata basis computed by land area? Follow the Swiss system and devolve everything, bar the agreed national matters, to local authorities and even further - as suggested above. By that means we could 'lose' the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and that of Northern Ireland; together with the then unnecessary costs. If the people of Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland wished to leave the United Kingdom, so be it - but it should be their decision, not that of politicians.

Yet another subject which has taxed politicians, since Blair proposed his half-arsed reformation of the House of Lords, is the final solution in respect of that place. Originally intended as a 'revising chamber' to the House of Commons, it has become the home of political patronage. Under Direct Democracy the people would assume the role of a revising chamber, which poses the question whether the HoL is any longer necessary? Why not sell off Portcullis House and move all the occupants into the HoL, thus saving yet another 'shed-load' of money? Needless to say, another 'shed-load' of money would be saved in staffing, not just for the HoL but also in the HoC. Readers may well disagree, or have alternative suggestions/proposals, no doubt.

As can obviously be seen direct democracy places the people in control of their country, it allows the people to decide what local services they want and the method of implementation, whilst putting them in control of expenditure of those services and consequently also allows them to decide the type of society in which they wish to live. The basic structure - administrative facilities and staff - already exist to implement direct democracy, although the job functions and mindset of those staff require changes to be made. There is a need to route out Common Purpose Graduates and similar 'bad apples' such as Diversity Officers and the like. As with national government, so with local government and the 'constraint' of politicians. Those elected are there to 'enable' the laws, education, health, law & order that the people of an area want. As with the constraint of politicians, so with the bureaucratic staff enabling those services to function and it is not in council officers remit to propose or implement any new regulations or fines.

How can this better way be implemented? It sure as hell will not be proposed, let alone permitted, by the current political class, so perhaps a new political party needs to be formed and campaign on the principles of direct democracy? Perhaps the one existing party who has the word 'Independence' in it's name will take the idea of direct democracy on board - after all, if they believe in real independence for the country they must also believe in real independence for the people? Understandably, if change to our system of democracy is to be made then it will take time - but change it must.

One final word on the purpose of this post - and if I have inadvertently misled those waiting for it, then I can but apologise. It was not the intention of this post to offer a new constitution, we already have one. Neither was it the intention to offer a Bill of Rights, we already have one. Likewise we have the basis for all laws - Common Law. The intention was to bring to people's notice that there is indeed another way in which they can live free of government interference into every aspect of their lives; one whereby the people resume their rightful place as 'master', relegating politicians to their rightful place as 'servant; and to provide examples of how this better way could be operated. If readers have followed all the links provided, then you must be converted to the idea of direct democracy..........  


Finally: If ever there was a case made for direct democracy, this must surely be it!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cameron puts his policy suggestions into practise!

As at 22:41 The PoliticsHome's main 'story' is headlined "PM: Take your kids to work".

In keeping with his 'policy' suggestion, he's already got them sitting on the Front Benches!

Announcement

WitteringsfromWitney will be off-line, or off-air, until Sunday when there will be just one post.

This will put forward a suggestion for a new type of democracy in this country, one which negates, or constrains, the law-making ability of our political elite; and puts the people 'in charge' - which is where they should be in the natural order.

In the words of Pat Condell: be well! (in the meantime)

Our politics is, indeed, a 'Wonderland'

Lords Hansard, Tuesday 22nd November 2011:
Asked By Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they continue to support European integration.

22 Nov 2011 : Column 942

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Lords, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has described the present situation as,"an opportunity to begin to refashion the EU so it better serves this nation's interests".

We want to see a European Union, in his words,"with the flexibility of a network, not the rigidity of a bloc".

The future shape of the EU might well involve more integration in some areas and between some countries, and less in others. Of course, the Government have also made it clear that they wish to see no treaty changes that transfer power or competencies from the UK to the EU in this Parliament.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. However, the British people have seen through the fiction that the European Union guarantees peace and safeguards jobs. So I have to press the Government: what is it really for? Put slightly differently, I suppose we can all agree that other international bodies such as the United Nations or NATO have an identifiable purpose, but can the Government tell us why we need the European Union at all, not to mention its very own disastrous euro?

Lord Howell of Guildford: I think the British people have a sensible and balanced appreciation of the virtues of living in the European continental area: that it is a mighty single market; that our influence in it is useful; and that when it comes to trade bargaining with the rising powers of Asia, Latin America and Africa, it is very useful to have a bit of muscle. That is a perfectly sensible and common-sense view that, I suspect, prevails in the minds of most of the British people. They may not like some of the aspects of the EU-many of us find these things irritating-but on the whole it seems a reasonable grouping in which to be deeply and actively involved, and that is where we stand." (Emphasis mine)
So:

Is not a transfer of power just that, regardless of whether a treaty change is used or not? Why the necessity of the caveat about treaty changes? The wish not to see any transfer of power with out treaty change implies that a transfer of power without that caveat would be accceptable. And why is the repetition of 'in this Parliament' so often used, unless it means that it is probably going to happen in the next Parliament?

Membership of the European Union may well be a 'perfectly sensible and common-sense view' of the political elite, but it most definitely is not according to opinion polls - or does not Lord Howell read opinion polls? It is obvious from Howell's reply that the fact the British people may not like some of the aspects of the EU matters not, as many of the political elite find it 'acceptable' - yet another demonstration of the present state of 'democratised dictatorship'.

Paraphrasing Alice in Wonderland, in the political world everything is nonsense. Nothing is what it is because everything is what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, is.

I can but repeat, people, it does not have to be like this - more at the weekend!

'This' is what passes as 'politics'?

As an example I refer to Prime Minister's Questions today - which in actual fact varies little from any other PMQs - and can but ask, in the words of the song by Peggy Lee*, "as I stood there, watching the whole world go up in flames, I remember asking myself: is that all there is?"

PMQs is an example of 'democracy in action'? Spheroids! It is no more than a PR exercise broadcast in the hope that the individual performances of the participants may well garner a few additional votes upon the occasion that we, the electorate, are asked to permit them continuing with their charade of democracy, one that will allow them to continue their leeching of the public purse.

It doesn't have to be like this, people - more on this subject, come the weekend!


* For the musical among you:

'Cut 'n paste' journalism - aka 'Churnalism'

Confirming what I have always maintained, that journalism 'per se' as a profession is dead, via Autonomous Mind comes news of a post by Katabasis, from which it will be seen that the 'revered' BBC is the worst culprit.

Do read all of Katabasis' article.....

The cry goes out: Its for the children (again)

Alex Cunningham, the MP behind the proposed bill to ban smoking in cars, has been given space on PoliticsHome in order to gain support. With regard to the question of toxins, Raedwald 'did the maths' in his post here (follow the link to the March post). Likewise, on the question secondhand smoke,  Christopher Booker and Richard North debunked any claims in that area, here (follow link to post of 24th March 2010).

Cunningham writes that quite simply, this is a serious public health issue; that we have a duty to protect children from such harm, and the most effective way we can do that is through a ban on smoking in cars. In the interests of fairness and equality, perhaps Cunningham would also permit the electorate to point out that they, too, have a similar serious, public health issue. That is that we have a duty to protect ourself from the harm that politicians do - and the only way we can do that is to ban all politicians and their practices.

Just saying......................