Politicians only have one aim……

….and that is power, whereby they gain control over those they are meant to serve.

Nothing illustrates this more than the first paragraph of the introduction to a paper Dominic Raab has written for the Centre of Policy Studies, entitled: “Unleashing the British Underdog: 10 bets on the little guy“:

“During a period of austerity, following the worst recession since the war and the application of the brakes to over a decade of rising public spending, it is unsurprising that politicians are wrestling with renewed vigour for ownership of the basic idea of fairness.” (emphasis mine).

Since when has ownership of any basic idea, where society is concerned, been the prerogative of, or owned by, politicians? 

In his paper Raab lists ten 10 policies which will widen opportunity and improve social mobility:

  1. Extend Open Access, the scheme that sponsors talented children from all backgrounds to go to independent schools.
  2. Fast-track Troops to Teachers, to encourage more schools staffed by veterans to be set up in areas of deprivation.
  3. Give VAT tax breaks to charities such as Fight for Peace which help turn round the lives of disaffected youngsters.
  4. Re-instate Young Apprenticeships, so that non-academic children have a better range of vocational options.
  5. Expand opportunities for “legal executives”, to encourage wider non-graduate entry into the profession.
  6. Give start-ups and micro-businesses tax breaks, such as exemptions on employers’ NI contributions and cuts in business rates.
  7. Extend the 0% band on stamp duty to £250,000, to help first time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder.
  8. Release ‘dead equity’ for tenants in social housing, to incentivise home ownership and finance new social housing.
  9. Teach refugees English on arrival, so they can find work and integrate into the community.
  10. Introduce a simple tax allowance for employers of disabled people to cover the cost of workplace adaptations.

I would challenge anyone to argue the case why any of the above should not be the decision of the people within the local authority in which they live. Any one of Raab’s policy proposals would need to be funded through taxation of the individual – so why should the individual not have the right to say whether he/she agrees to said taxation? Raab’s proposals are no more, no less, than an extension of the idea of ‘communitarianism’ – and if an individual is to have ‘rights’ then the ideology of ‘communitarianism’ is – and must be – a ‘dead duck’.

Over to you, dear reader – and especially those who attended ‘Harrogate’ and who seem averse to even the smallest facet of the concept of direct democracy.




13 Responses

  1. Robin says:

    Raab`s 10 points are a mixture of liberal/left and capitalist thoughts , but I take your point that localities should choose their way .

    I want to put an extreme hypothesis to folks here ;

    Berkshire wants to clean the Thames up , and levies local taxes to do so .
    Oxorfdshire isnt bothered and allows any sewage or industrial junk to be poured into the Thames (Isis) .
    What`s the solution ?

    • Sean O'Hare says:

      A Thames Barrier at Pangbourne perhaps?

    • david says:

      Trust you to come up with that example!

      An unlikely scenario, however…….

      I believe most people would accept the need for Berkshire’s method to be followed and if Oxfordshire County Council had adopted such a policy, the people would demand the necessary change. Plus of course, where a natural resource crosses county borders there would have to be some agreement between them as to required action.

    • petermg says:

      Surely central government is the one to create the framework for clean water and sewerage disposal. The local authorities then allocate their spending on the way to achieving this. I’m not sure this is an extreme example at all because we would never turn the clock back on our environmental gains.

      We have to look at today’s problems. Take water. Thames water wants to build 2 new reservoirs to supply its customers no matter what the rainfall that year, one in Oxfordshire and one in Berkshire. Berkshire say yes, but those in Oxford say no, because Thames hasn’t done enough to reduce the Oestrogen in the water that they think is reducing the fertility of fish.

      Oxford take their orders from central government (the EU) and Berkshire ignores that and decides the security of supply takes precedence.

      Isn’t this the sort of issue we are trying to grapple with and how we the people get to decide how our money is spent? On basic needs first or fish.

      • david says:

        I think I can see from whence you come – and firstly, yes I would turn the clock back on some so-called environmental gains: wind turbines for one!

        Not in any way trying to ‘duck the question’ but this fixation on water is a little unnecessary as in the example you pose more people would want to wash their cars and water their gardens than the number concerned about the well-being of fish – result: ‘no contest’. I repeat that where a natural resource crosses county borders there would have to be a certain amount of agreement twixt those concerned – but said agreement would be arrived at locally and not mandated by central government.

        • petermg says:

          David Wind turbines are not what I term an environmental gain! Your point about turning clock back is an entire debate on its own and I have been debating elsewhere about diminishing returns from vehicle exhaust emissions, and where regulations have run their course and need renewing with adjusted aims. However having worked in the industry for nearly 25 years before changing roles I witnessed how unwanted regulation focus minds and resulted in amazing innovation, but today all I see it doing is creating conglomerates, destroying competition, destroying jobs, and creating complexity which our eastern competitors in the main ignore. We have zero emission vehicles burning diesel yet our regulator wish to now regulate that which does not need to be regulated, reducing zero to half of zero with no justification. We have done the job and need to move on.

          I think that much of the frustration we as informed citizens feel today is we have regulators and legislators that feel the need to regulate and legislate almost for the sake of it, as if was the measure of their job. What they need to do is get the hell out of it and let us be on many areas, and concentrate on protecting the individual from the government and the corporates.

          Our example stands where Central government states we must have clean water and industry must not pollute it. No one disputes this. But it should be up to local authorities to ensure it is applied appropriately in their areas as they see fit, as every region will have differing priorities. No argument here from me. But I would be concerned about Local authorities being able to frame the requirements.

          California is a classic example of where the state has lost its marbles over environmental measures and the people are powerless to fight back. We could easily end up with local authorities doing the same. There needs to be some cast iron checks and balances before people will take to the idea of localism and/or direct democracy.

        • Anoneumouse says:

          Like a treaty

          As the Harrogate Agenda is leaning towards Local Government being based upon county boundaries and that those counties become sovereign entities, then the only agreement between the counties has to be by treaty.

          Treaties are agreements between sovereign entities i.e. political groups with the ability to set rules for their own communities, determine their own membership, care for their own territory (e.g. OXFORD CC), and enter agreements with other sovereign entities e.g. BERKS.

  2. Andy Baxter says:

    just to be clear David can you define exactly what you mean by direct democracy (DD)? for me I think we are making progress on certain issues

    referanda I see as essential in certain but not all exective or legislative decison making, or should I say perhaps oversight of some but I cannot see that it could be effectively implemented for all decisions;

    sovereign counties with a drill down to even parish level is positive DD step as I see it

    I totally accept that the Swiss model has many attractions but they built a constitution from scrach after a civil war, we have existing contitutional documents and some conventions that are good.

    so please define what you mean by DD as you see it in a brief synopsis so I can see where we agree or disagree?

    just asking! lol

    • david says:

      Andy, To me,Direct Democracy means the people having the final decision on what is and is not acceptable – whether that be law, the behaviour of society, law & order, education, treaties, whatever. It also means, as you rightly say, devolving power down to the lowest possible level (parish).

      Direct democracy contains the element of ‘referism’ anyway as politicians have to consult the public prior to drafting legislation if they wish to ensure their proposals do not hit the buffers of public non-approval – so to the first paragraph I would also add the requirement that annually any expenditure of public money is put to the public beforehand (national and local budgets).

      If we accept that the public are the guardians of their own future, then on the subject of the Monarchy some of the suggestions on RN’s Forum are a tad unnecessary, even silly. (eg, letting HM have the power of refusal to give Assent to new laws if the majority of the public disagree). That would reintroduce an element of subservience to a higher authority and there can be no higher authority than the people. I would wish to keep the Monarchy – they are worth their existence by the income they provide the country in tourism, etc).

      Not too sure how far and how deep you wish me to go – so perhaps you ask a few questions and I will respond.

  3. Anoneumouse says:

    David, what you describe is an ‘Ochlocracy’

    • Peter C says:

      A tad unfair I think, Anoneumouse.

      Any form of democracy can degenerate into Ochlocracy. Does not our present system of representative democracy have a wide streak of demagoguery, usually strong evidence of Ochlocracy at work, embeded in it? Do not our current MPs and governments try to bribe us for our votes, another implicit facet of it?

      Personally I think that all forms of democracy will eventually degenerate into it, all the quicker the more ‘professional’ our politicians are.

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