“In this country we are accustomed to fight our political battles in terms of socialism and capitalism, a controlled or a free economy, the state versus the individual; but behind all this terminology the careful observer will perceive that on both sides, indeed almost everywhere, a common assumption is silently shared. It is the assumption that the citizen cannot, must not, fix his own goals or choose his own good. This is not surprising. Only exceptionally in human history has that assumption been challenged at all. Much more exceptionally has any society or nation conducted its affairs upon the opposite assumption – that the citizen may, nay must, fix his own goals and choose his own good. This country was one of those very rare exceptions during one or two generations in the last century, though today only those in extreme old age can remember it personally. Throughout the lifetime of most of us the normal presumption, that the aims of the individual are set by the state, has re-established itself triumphantly. We do not usually notice this, partly because the modern state uses the vocabulary of individual liberty (‘human rights’, etc.), just as the totalitarian state uses the terminology of democracy.” – Enoch Powell: The Monday Club, Painters’ Hall, London, 13th July 1971
The latest in Richard North’s ‘essays‘, post Harrogate, is on the subject of Members of Parliament of whom the majority attending Harrogate wished to control, limit their powers and make them more responsive to constituents wishes. It was also agreed, I believe it correct, that limitation of government into our lives must be reduced. Yet is not the system of representative democracy, to use the words of Enoch Powell, based on the assumption that the citizen cannot, must not, fix his own goals or choose his own good. Politicians of late have an inherent trend for coercion when considering the art of government. In attempting to regulate our lives, first they ‘suggest’, then they ‘cajole’ and lastly when that does not work they ‘enforce’ by means of law. They loudly proclaim the freedom of the individual but when a wish to exercise a freedom appears, immediately a law is passed to limit that particular freedom. That our country is in decline cannot be in doubt and yet we still accept the illusion that a change of the party in office with a different ideology and even more laws can remedy our continuing demise as a country. How can our country recover when the political class has ceded not only the country’s sovereignty and thus the ability to make law unhindered but also their own honesty and morals coupled with any sense of duty. It must follow, therefore, that if it is intended to bring Members of Parliament ‘to heel’ then the system of democracy must be changed – yet comments to date on Richard North’s latest essay appear not consider that point.
If people, to again use the words of Enoch Powell, wish to fix their own goals and select their own good (which encapsulates the wish of at least one attendee) then it is necessary that they also have control over their national and local government due to the fact that so much of what national and local government does affects how people can fix their own goals and select their own good. In other words people wish for freedom to exercise initiative and choice in their lives – but does not organization from above (politicians) limit and destroy initiative and choice?
Another accepted ‘demand’ of those attending Harrogate was the need for “Referism” on the national budget, but if we are to demand referism on that subject it must logically follow we also have a need for referism on any law the political class wish to impose, either nationally or locally – a question I have posed on may occasions previously and to which I still await an answer.
In the comments to Richard North’s latest ‘essay’ there have been calls to limit the tenure of MPs but as he notes, if that were to happen how would MPs gain experience in their jobs? There were also calls at Harrogate for political parties to be banned – that only ‘Independent’ candidates should be allowed to stand. If constraint of MPs is the aim, what difference does it make whether an MP is a member of a political party or is ‘non-aligned’, if they enact that which for their constituents wish?
It is necessary to repeat something else I have stated, post Harrogate. Those wanting people power, devolution of power, referism, less centralized government and government interference are, in effect, advocating the adoption of a form of direct democracy. I would humbly suggest that that realization needs to be confronted – otherwise the discussion on separation of powers, the constitution, elected representatives and reforming local government ain’t going anywhere.