Harrogate (viii)

Every decision we make in our life has a ‘cost’ – which promptly begs the question of who pays, a question that has national and personal implications which impact on our democracy, politics, society and finances. On any aspect of their existence, by nature people do not like being forced to act against their will, yet they willingly vote at general and local elections to do just that.

We are continually informed by our politicians that we are free people, that more powers will be passed to us, yet – to quote Tyler Durden on Zerohedge – ask yourself, are you really living in a free society? Are you free? If not, why not?

Ask yourself:

  • Does a free society have hundreds of thousands of laws, codes, rules, regulations, and policies which effectively criminalize nearly every aspect of one’s existence?
  • Does a free society hunt down criminals and terrorists by treating its citizens like criminals and terrorists?
  • Does a free society saddle unborn generations with obligations they never signed up to bear?
  • Does a free society award near total control of the economy, the money supply, and everything tied to it, to a tiny elite few?
  • Does a free society brainwash its citizens into believing that they live in a free society?

It is well known that where a vacuum exists, something or someone will always move to fill it which is how, when considering our democracy and politics, the political class have managed to condition the people into thinking that they, the politicians, are indispensable where the governance of our country – and us – is concerned. The people, by not taking responsibility for their own lives, have themselves created the vacuum into which the political class have moved, thus condemning  themselves to a state of servitude.

Although the popular support of the Lib/Lab/Con is in decline, paradoxically the stranglehold that they have on politics is increasing, along with the power they exert. The people do not seem to realize that when those three parties talk about reform and change, they do so from the perspective of what will benefit their individual party – and not from the perspective of what will benefit the country. While those three parties continue within their bubble of self-interest, nothing will change and any hope of reform can be forgotten. 

There is not much point in people standing on one side while criticizing the political class; there is a need to explain to them that their lives and their future lay in their own hands, not those of the political class. They need to be reminded of that oft-quoted section from Ronald Reagan’s first Inaugural Address in 1981:

“From time to time we’ve 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. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”

The ‘Demands of Harrogate‘ are simple to understand and form the basis whereby people can regain control of their lives and that of their country. The basics of self-democracy, encapsulated as they are in the Demands’, may at first sight appear unpalatable to people conditioned as they have been not to think for themselves. However, the fervour that the people exhibited towards Team GB at Olympic events can be redirected at them because where the future of the individual and of our country is concerned, are the people not Team GB?


16 Responses

  1. Herod says:

    Western civilization carries within it it’s own destruction in the form of democracy. Rearranging the mechanics of democracy cannot correct the fatal weakness. The introduction of the universal franchise ensured that the majority must always, in the long run, live at the expense of the minority. This principle is absolutely inseparable from democracy with a universal franchise. Harrogate cannot cure this .

    • Peter C says:

      Not necessarily so, Herod. There are two basic ways to cancel out the fatal weakness you refer to. First you can disenfranchise those who do not contribute, rather a nasty blunt instrument way of doing things, but likely to be very effective if somewhat socially divisive, secondly you can simply take away the government’s role as a provider of services and arrange welfare so that it can never be more than a safety net and certainly so as to never be a viable choice as it now stands. By this route government fulfils it proper role, that of guide and facilitator rather than dictator with the added bonus of taking much of the politics out of government.

      • david says:

        Thanks for making those points to Herod – beat me to it!

        I would also add that one can move the onus of provision of welfare onto the family, father in the case of unmarried mother, and also by making welfare a local matter which it would be under my proposal (ie, it would follow the principles used in Switzrland)

      • Herod says:

        “You can simply take away the government’s role”. Really? How can you do that when the majority elects the government. The government’s role was always to facilitate and guide, but the party system will never allow that and will always seek out the majority will.
        There are two basic ways democracy kills, one is by majority parasitism, and the other by profound tribal loyalty. Witness the numbers in the North and Scotland who will dance on Thatcher’s grave, really!

        • Peter C says:

          I agree with you, Herod, as does Nigel below. Under the existing situation you will not get the political class to willingly give away the power they have been greedily stealing and hoarding for at least 400 years, nor is our present system robust enough to overcome voter self-interest and tribal voting, nor is there the will to do so among the majority. However, you yourself makes the point that our present ‘democracy’ based as it is in Social Democratic Welfarism, is fatally flawed and unsustainable in the long term.

          In fact I do not believe even Richard North or David believe that the Demands of Harrogate are going to engender a grass-roots revolution turning out the present political elite tomorrow. At best we might hope the political elite will ‘smell the coffee’ before it is too late and elect to change and possibly, if it is given enough exposure, Harrogate might be a positive influence on that. More likely they won’t and what we have here is an option for the future, a template for the restructuring that will inevitably follow the coming economic crash which will likely be the straw that breaks the welfarism that underpins the current western infatuation with social democracy and the political elite. The choice then will be some form of democracy that limits political manoeuvring or a switch from democracy to totalitarianism of one sort or another with the terrible consequences that is likely to entail.

          My apologies, David if I have misrepresented your views or stolen your thunder or have in any other way deemed to have been rude.

  2. Demands likely to help with the first 2 items on WfW’s list (selected from the linked article), as far as I can see, are not on the currently proposed draft of the Harrogate Declaration.

    When I pointed this out, and that these sorts of issue were raised at Harrogate (originally in my email to the Harrogate attendees on 29th July) and subsequently on the appropriate EUReferendum forum at http://www.eureferendum.com/forum/yaf_postsm1343_The-Harrogate-Agenda—the-provisional-list.aspx#post1343 (my point (ii)), the take-up was ‘less than enthusiastic’.

    If these points are now being considered as of some potential importance for the Harrogate Declaration, I am delighted.

    Best regards

    • david says:

      Well they are actually Nigel as 1 can be negated by the use of referenda (politicians would soon learn what is and is not acceptable to the people) and 2, law and order would be a devolved matter to local authorities and local people.

      • David writes: “Well they are actually Nigel.” This is an excessive enthusiasm for the indirect. It is unlikely to fire up the masses into written revolt against the current political arrangements.

        And David writes: “as 1 can be negated by the use of referenda (politicians would soon learn what is and is not acceptable to the people).” We do not have this: there is dispute within this (Harrogate) community as to whether negative or positive variants of direct democracy are to apply. Then there is my point: even negative direct democracy is unlikely to be effective: the mass of the people have neither the inclination nor (without much work) the knowledge to engage, and the process is too inefficient to be practical (except on infrequent constitutional matters). Thus I doubt there will be much concern, from this alone, in the Westminster Village. Worse, as with AV, they will probably view it as a useful mechanism to resolve, for a time at least, a few inter-party disputes: by appropriate control through both the timing and the mainstream media (eg and largely, the BBC).

        And David writes: “and 2, law and order would be a devolved matter to local authorities and local people.” Such devolution of law and order applies to a marked extent in the very country (the USA) from which his linked set of concerns is actually made. If that country, with all its better localism than the UK, fails to protect against an over-zealous policing and other dictat, how would a change here to a similar system actually help us?

        Best regards

  3. david says:

    A general reply.

    First to Peter C: there is nothing for which you have to apologise.

    Herod/Nigel S: I tend to become extremely frustrated by ‘negativity’ on its own – by all means criticize, but at least put forward an alternative.

    Picking up on the point by Peter C, where have I written that Harrogate would have an immediate effect? It is obvious, even to one of little intellect, that Harrogate will take time to become a matter of talk in pubs, clubs etc. The British people have been brainwashed into thinking that politicians are necessary and that representative democracy is the only form of democracy available. That the people in general have neither the knowledge nor the inclination to participate in direct democracy is a statement without the basis of fact. How can you say so when there is no evidence – how can there be evidence when the system has never been tried? In any event, under the same conditions I am able say that once the people are aware of the system of direct democracy, if only 50% of them choose to participate and have sufficient knowledge so to do then the political class have an immediate problem.

    As far as I am aware there is no dispute in the Harrogate assembly about negative and positive assent (at least among those that have accepted the principles behind the idea of people power). It would seem to me that some are unaware of how negative and positive assent would work?

    On the subject of law and order, where have I written that the US system of localizing law and order would be cut’n pasted into the UK? The questions I extracted were those that were most applicable to the UK and consequently chosen for that purpose. Anyways what is ‘over zealous’? If the people of Oxfordshire vote for a zero tolerance and say Berkshire next door vote to treat criminals with kid gloves, is it not for the people of each county to decide? (a question and example that I have used previously and which no-one has yet to refute – at least those that do believe in people power and the idea of self-rule).

    With apologies for what may seem as a ‘rant’ against what I would term short-sightedness.

    • David writes: “Herod/Nigel S: I tend to become extremely frustrated by ‘negativity’ on its own – by all means criticize, but at least put forward an alternative.

      I fully agree that one should try hard to not just criticise, but (as often as is practical) propose an alternative. Only in that way can a true comparison be made and the best (or a better) way forward be properly considered.

      On the particular issue of direct democracy, back on Richard North’s forums (a good place in my view) and on WfW’s own blog, I did propose an alternative. This was the concept of annual elections, rotating between House of Commons, House of Taxpayers (reformed Lords) and directly elected prime minister.

      This I proposed most recently on 4th August, when I wrote: “I again ask, as I do agree that the current system is not ‘democratic’ enough, what is wrong with more frequent elections (say annually). This would surely hold the ‘Westminster Village’ and its ‘Brussels’ appendage (or master, according to individual view) more to account. And far more effectively and efficiently than tiring and boring the electorate with a less obvious, less direct (if I may say so) and certainly vastly less efficient mechanism.” This is at link1, EUReferendum

      I also wrote, 2 days earlier on this blog (on a post of David’s tagged with ‘Harrogate’): “We could have more elections (I have suggested annual ones, rotating on a 3-year cycle between directly elected prime minister, HoC and House of Lords/Taxpayers). This would increase the load on the political parties, making money for advertising less important, and track record more important. In addition, I hope, it might make political decision making among the electorate more of an ongoing part of life than a 5-yearly exception.” This is at: link2, Witterings from Witney

      And I wrote on Richard’s Forum back on 30th July: “If we want more democracy, why do we not go for something simpler like more frequent elections. To avoid the somewhat valid objection that nothing would ever get done as no one would have time to learn the ropes, I suggest rotating annual national elections: year 1, directly elected prime minister; year 2, House of Commons; year 3, House of Lords/Taxpayers. Thus everyone elected gets a 3-year stint before having to electioneer again, but the political parties would have to be on their toes all the time, and be judged annually.” That comment can be found here: link3, EUReferendum

      This is the same concept, competitive with both negative and positive referendums on ordinary parliamentary bills (ie not on non-constitutional matters, where I do think positive referendums have a very important place), posted 3 times since the Harrogate meeting.

      Best regards

      • The last paragraph in my comment above should read: “This is the same concept, competitive with both negative and positive referendums on ordinary parliamentary bills (ie not on constitutional matters, where I do think positive referendums have a very important place), posted 3 times since the Harrogate meeting.”

        Apologies for the error of a negative too many.

        Best regards

      • david says:

        While I can see the idea of 3-yearly election cycle, I do not see the need.

        If a politician is doing a job that is acceptable to his constituents then why should he be forced to seek re-election earlier, especially when a recall system exists? There is also the question of cost involved too.

        I take your point about politicians being kept on their toes, however will that not be the case anyway with the availability to the public of recall, referenda and initiatives?

  4. Herod says:

    david, if I seem negative, it’s because there is little room for any other realistic attitude. Direct democracy or refer ism. is tyranny of the activists as opposed to tyranny of the majority which we have now.
    If you must have positivism, then I recommend a sovereign with absolute or divine right. Now watch everyone recoil in horror! Better still anarchic capitalism, as set out by the Austrian School of economics. You are so correct in pointing out the deep conditioning of the people to think very narrowly.

    • david says:

      I hardly think you can call the present system tyranny of the majority when the tyranny is perpetrated by a minority. Because of the vagueness of manifestos people have no idea for what they vote.

      I would like to say when, but being realistic will settle for if, the idea of direct democracy catches on I think it will then become a positivism.

      Anyways thanks for accepting the deep condition of the people……

  5. Robin says:

    If we accept the idea of democracy then we must accept the fact that the people can make mistakes, but they must take responsibilty for these mistakes (and maybe learn from them ).Better than a self regarding elite making mistakes and covering them up or obfuscating about them .

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