With my belief in Direct Democracy and the basic idea that power should always be devolved down to the most practical level, several stories appeared which promptly made me question the input and presence of our political class in each matter.
A great furore has built up over Sunday Trading laws and the fact that the extension to those laws, brought in by the Coalition for the duration of the Olympics, should be extended or not. Let us leave to one side the question of whether or not the Coalition stated, at the introduction of the extension, that it would only be temporary; let us leave to one side the religious argument based on observance of the Sabbath. Just what business is it of the political class when shops, whatever their size and floor area, are open for business? Under ‘Harrogate’ such matters would be decided by local administrative units (counties, cities, towns) following a decision reached by the people of each ‘unit’. (Eat your heart out, Peter Hitchens).
The question of ‘the right to die’ has also been in the news, promoted by the distressing case of Tony Nicklinson who suffers from ‘locked in syndrome’. Needless to say, this is an extremely difficult subject however if, as I believe, power must be devolved down to the most practical level then one has to ask of our political elite, whose life is it – that of the individual or that of the political class? Lord Falconer, writing in today’s Mail, believes that ultimately it is a step too far for the law to allow one person to kill another because the person wants to die. As Chair of the Commission on Assisted Dying, he and his colleagues are of the opinion that only someone who has 12 months or less to live should have the right to be assisted to die and that it would also have to involve the person killing themselves and not being killed by someone else. When someone, as have I, makes a stipulation that should they suffer a life-threatening situation, following for example an operation, that they do not wish to be resuscitated, one has to ask whether the medical staff attending to that person have not assisted them to die?
Michael Gove, a cabinet member of the Coalition, has approved the selling of school playing fields and his decision is taken after consideration by the School Playing Fields Advisory Panel, an ‘independent’ group of experts (Emphasis on ‘independent’ mine, being a cynic. Of the SPFAP, there appears no trace on Google, nor on the DofE website – at least that I can see). One wonders about what input and weight the views of parents carry in any decision to sell off playing fields – and if none, why? Once again, under ‘Harrogate’, matters of education would be devolved down to the lowest unit – in this case parents.
Melissa Kite, Mail on Sunday, raises the thorny question about building on the Green Belt, bearing in mind that draft proposals were subsequently strengthened and that development of brownfield sites is actively encouraged. Yet again we return to the question of ownership; who owns public land, politicians or the people?
Apparently David Cameron has ordered ministers to consider backing a £30bn project to harness the tidal power of the Severn estuary. No public money would be involved (where have we heard that before?) but the catch is that the project would rely on green energy subsidies paid to wind and solar plants, which add to customers’ bills. Once again the public’s money is involved, so as it is our money should we not have a say whether (a) we agree to spend that; and (b) do we want an energy supply part-owned by a foreign country? (Ok, I know some of our energy sources already are).
I suspect most readers of this blog would agree with the statement that politicians intrude and interfere far too much in our lives and that that process has to be halted – nay reversed. It is ironic that politicians are unable to see that their never-ending usurpation of power is what has led them to be reviled. My own view of politicians can be summed up by a quotation of Jarod Kintz:
“I once saw a politician walking a dog, and I thought, “How absurd—an animal walking an animal.” Then I thought, “If given the choice, I’d rather vote for the dog.”