Tag Archive: Democracy

Rotherham (2)

Any society that entails he strengthening of the state apparatus by giving it unchecked control over the economy and re-unites the polity and the economy is an historical regression. In it there is no more future for the public, or for the freedoms it supports than there was under feudalism.

Robert Higgs, Crisis and Levathian (1987)

Owen Jones has an article in the Guardian entitled: If Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are mavericks British politics is doomed. Writing in the same publication, Paul Vallely has an article entitled: Rotherham abuse report: protection is what matters, not blame. Yet again in the same publication we have Randeep Ramesh stating that Rotherham is a putrid scandal perpetuated by a broken system.

To supplement all that we have an extract from the Spectator headlined: Rotherham’s child abuse was ignored in order to protect careers and retirements; coupled with which we then have an article on Conservative Home questioning how the Councillor who was in charge of Children’s Services (including child protection) in Rotherham from 2005 to 2010, years during which the council ignored clear warnings and allowed the crimes to continue, was then nominated and subsequently elected as a Police and Crimes Commissioner. We also have Allison Pearson, writing in the Telegraph, basically blaming the people for not rocking the multi-cultural boat.

Then of course the question has to be asked just what did the ex-MP for Rotherham (Denis MacShane) know about all this – and if not, why not?

Just how the hell does Owen Jones believe that because Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage  are mavericks, bearing in mind the foregoing, that British politics is doomed? Both believe in representative democracy, both believe in control by the centre (in one form or another) – they are no different to any other politician, so how are they mavericks? As with the word ‘eurosceptic’, so with the word ‘maverick”; both are now being used to describe someone who is not.

British politics has for yonks been a merry-go-round in which people who have failed in one post are then moved to another in order to repeat their past ineptitude – and all without the democratic agreement of those who are required to fund their existence.

To return to the quote with which this article is introduced, it is not just control of the economy being handed to the polity that brings about the ruin of a society – it is the handing over of control in every aspect of our lives to the polity that brings about the ruin of society.

While we permit the safeguarding of careers and retirements; while we permit broken systems to continue; while we permit politicians to dictate that which we can and cannot say; while we permit the merry-go-round of job placements for the incompetent, then indeed politics is doomed.

More importantly, while we permit our politics to be used as a plaything for those in the Westminster Bubble then our country is surely doomed – as are we ourselves.

 

 


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Rotherham – Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.

Alexander Hamilton

With the publication of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997 – 2013) there unfolds a story of mismanagement involving incompetence and neglect of duty.

The Executive Summary is concise, detailing serious shortcomings in those who held positions of trust within the society they were supposed to protect.

No doubt there will be much hand-wringing among our political class and charities involved in child care and protection with the publication of this report. No doubt too, there will be mutterings of disgust and condemnation among members of the public; although I suspect few will bother to read the report, instead relying on what they see on their television, hear on the wireless, or read in the press.

When anything goes wrong in this country the first thing people do is to cast around, looking for someone to blame – when perhaps they should be looking in a mirror. For too long people have relied on the State to do things for them that they should be doing for themselves. For too long people have considered that having cast their vote at election time, they have done their duty.

Invariably when something does go wrong and I hear people complaining about ‘the government’ or ‘the council’ I ask them what they have done or intend doing about it. Usually the response is that of: ‘Oh, I don’t get involved in politics’; as if that absolves them of all blame.

That attitude absolves no-one of blame because liars, panderers and the incompetent who hold public office at any level would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and thus blindly agreeable.

‘Events Rotherham’ is but an example of what is wrong with our country and our society in general – we seem not to care what happens in, or to, this wonderful country, nor to ourselves. 

A country should become what its people decide but in most cases a country becomes what a select few decide. Washing one’s hands of a problem didn’t do Pontius Pilate much good – and it won’t do much for the people either.

People, get a grip – here is your template!


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Devolution – a Pandora’s Box?

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 With the second Scottish Independence debate occurring this evening it is perhaps opportune to consider some aspects of this subject which do not yet appear to have been discussed.

Devolution of power to Scotland and Wales was one of the central planks of New Labour’s election manifesto in 1997, under the leadership of Tony Blair. Cynics are of the opinion that either (a) it was but a ploy to ensure a majority of Labour MPs in Scotland and Wales; or (b), it was but the first sign of Blair wishing to be at the heart of Europe and demonstrating that by starting the process of regionalisation – you pays your money and………..

Once the process of devolution was begun it could be likened to the opening of a Pandora’s box in that that action, one that seemed so small or innocent, has turned out to have severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences.

All that the process of devolution has accomplished is to provide another opportunity for a group of politicians to sense an opening whereby they can carve out for themselves a career which will provide a bigger slice of cake than that which they currently enjoy, while at the same time fragmenting a united kingdom.

It could be said that those first implementing devolution paid little thought to what might follow – and if they did, they obviously cared not knowing that they would not be around to deal with the consequences. I seem to recall that the consequences of an act affect the probability of its occurring again; something that we see with the further concessions being promised to Scotland by todays political elite – and this lot will not be around either when the time comes to clear up their attempt at bribery.

Alex Salmond has made great play about ‘freedom for Scotland’ where the question of Scottish Independence is concerned, while conveniently hiding the fact that it is not freedom for Scotland, nor its people, that he seeks; but the freedom for him and his ilk to rule Scotland as they see fit – and lets face it, they had an example of what to do by looking at the political system in England.

Under representative democracy our political class (and it will be no different in Scotland) work on the basis that having been left to our devices we have not been able to regulate ourselves (in their opinion) and therefore it is necessary that we must be forced, we must have our earnings seized by the state, we must work under their directions (under penalty of fines or imprisonment); that we don’t deserve to be free.

The practice of our political elite throwing titbits to the people from the table of democracy is no different to those who throw titbits from the dinner table to their dog. Unfortunately, the people have yet to learn something that dogs already know; namely, that hunting as a pack they can soon get to everything that is on the dinner table!

 


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Recurring Events

Every year we acknowledge recurring events in our lives such as birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries; and in time, due to the ageing process, they assume less and less importance. One such annual event, which assumes a similar lack of importance, is the subject about the annual increase in rail fares, something that our media attempt to elevate to a matter of national importance – not that, for all their efforts – anything seems to happen. Not to be outdone, the Financial Times has this article, on which I have left a short comment. Having ‘had a go‘ at Peter Oborne, the need for observing the requirements of gender equality dictates my according the authors of the FT article the same treatment.

I have written many times on this subject, the earliest which was in August 2011, following that article with this one in December of the same year. Where Angela Eagle is concerned it is noted that she seems to have followed a downward path, where the importance of portfolios is concerned, since the first portfolio accorded to her by Tony Blair. Perhaps, under Miliband, a PPE is an example of ‘a race to the bottom’? But I digress.

If readers follow all the links in the articles to which I link in the posts mentioned above, perhaps they will appreciate why I get so annoyed at our p*** poor political class and our p*** poor media.

As it is obvious that the media cannot, or will not, do their homework; and our political class are also obviously lying to us – just when will the people stir themselves to do their own? Or will they continue to ‘rail’ against the inevitable and then just suffer in silence – as is their wont?

 

 


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There are ‘bastards’ – and there are ‘bastards’

Richard North, continuing his series of articles on ‘matters Iraq links to ‘Complete Bastard‘ – the author of which blog is Peter (Pete) North, aka North Junior, aka the son of Richard North.

In most articles readers are gradually led to the ‘nub’ of the article, however allow me to ‘cut to the chase’ – thus going against the grain of most articles – and introduce to you Peter Oborne, Chief Political Commentator of the Daily Telegraph. who, so Wikipedia informs us, is renowned for his acerbic commentary on the hypocrisy and apparent mendacity of contemporary politicians. In what follows it has to be remembered that Oborne is a member of the ‘Westminster Bubble’ and/or the ‘Notting Hill Set’, both of which with whom he no doubt spends an inordinate amount of his time.

When queried, Google offers two definitions  of the word ‘bastard’ – and where both people are concerned, we can immediately dispense with the first. Where the second is concerned, viz-a-vis Oborne, I leave readers to select whichever word they consider most appropriate – an offer which will hopefully become all too plain.

Peter Oborne has a blog post in which he suggests Parliament should be a lot more rowdy because he believes that rowdyism is a must, that Parliament is  not about the exchange of polite conversation at a vicarage tea party because it is concerned with the great, controversial matters of the day and involves clashes between rival visions of how our society should be run; maintaining also that in any properly functioning democracy, passion should run high. What Oborne so conveniently forgets is that it is because we do not have a properly functioning democracy is why passions do run high.

The rowdyism, which Oborne appears so keen to promote, is due to two main factors; (a) the common characteristic of vacuousness and, as a result; (b) the complete lack of knowledge exhibited by the majority of those who rise to their feet, in order to pontificate on matters about which they so obviously know nothing.

Consider:

  • Is it not courtesy, in any civilised gathering, to sit in silence and listen to that which a speaker is saying?
  • Is it not courtesy, in any civilised gathering, if asked a question to answer that question fully and truthfully?

Those two points are especially applicable to Prime Minister’s Questions – a misnomer if ever there was one as ‘questions’ are never answered. Instead, what results is an attempt to belittle the questioner (the Leader of the Opposition) by the Prime Minister of the day (or vice versa) while both participants are only concerned in securing a ‘sound-bite’ (aka playing to the gallery) which will guarantee their mention in any subsequent television news or the inclusion in a satirical article by some parliamentary hack.. What results is no more than what can only be described as childish behaviour exhibited by those on the benches behind either questioner or respondent, baying like demented idiots. That is not to forget, during PMQs, the ‘planted questions’,provided by Whips and asked by those hoping that their ‘puppetry’ will assist their promotional prospects, coupled with both front benches pointing and ‘gurneying’ at their counterparts opposite.

Peter Oborne wants more of this because he believes that is how a properly functioning democracy behaves? If only we had a properly functioning democracy we would not have to put up with the kindergarten behaviour of those who should know better – and that includes Oborne! One has to ask Oborne where is his rowdyism outside ‘prime time television’ (Wednesdays: 12:00 to 12:30) when matters of state are discussed and where one is lucky if there are more than 20 ‘bums on seats’? The only ‘rowdyism’ we then get is when the remainder miraculously appear to dutifully file through the lobbies in order to cast their votes on a discussion on which they have heard nothing and in which they have not participated, then returning to the green benches to ‘bay’ in unison when the result of the vote is announced.

Pete North justifiably castigates those who he terms idealistic know-nothings –  I can but suggest that Oborne has yet to step out of that base category of his mis-named ‘profession’. Oborne’s article is about the hyprocisy and mendacity of our political class? Donnez-moi un break, s’il vous plait?

 

 


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Meeting my Member of Parliament (2)

I thought readers would be interested to know that, following my meeting with David Cameron on Friday, today the following email has been received:

Your appointment with David Cameron MP

Dear Mr Phipps,

 Thank you very much for coming to see David on Friday at his advice surgery.  Thank you also for dropping off the document listing your concerns about David’s comments regarding Europe.  Please be assured that David will read and respond to this in due course.

Best wishes,

Julia

Julia Spence I Caseworker

 Office of the Rt Hon David Cameron MP

House of Commons , London, SW1A 0AA

Needless to say I refrained from responding that my concerns had nothing to do with the continent of Europe but were related to this country’s membership of the European Union and the less than candid statements on that subject that he has made verbally and in writing.

As previously promised, his response (and any rebuttal to his response) will be published.


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Who is to ‘be’, or not to ‘be’ (the master) – that is the question

One of the penalties for refusing to engage in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

To succeed in politics it is often necessary to rise above your principles.

Graham Allen (Labour, Nottingham North) is chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, one appointed by the House of Commons to consider political and constitutional reform. This committee has published the second report of the current session (2014-2015) entitled: A New Magna Carta?; and this report is ‘introduced’ by an article authored by Graham Allen.

In collaboration with Kings College London they are reviewing various parts of the current system of democracy under which we currently live and whether we, as a country, need a codified constitution. They make the point that it is not for the committee to decide this but the decision should be one for the people; and in this context the Introduction is well worth reading.

Part 1 of the report sets out the arguments for and against a codified constitution and it is interesting that the arguments for such a codified constitution make the same arguments that I, along with Richard North and The Boiling Frog, have been ‘banging on’ about in relation to the deficits encapsulated in our current system, representative democracy.

These are detailed in depth on page 20 of the report under the heading: The Particular Arguments; and include:

  • In a democracy, it is the people that are sovereign, not Parliament;
  • There are no limitations on what Parliament can legislate about;
  • Parliamentary sovereignty is wielded by the government of the day, not Parliament;
  • Parliamentary sovereignty is but an anachronism and that the sovereignty of the people should be paramount;
  • Local Government is but a puppet of central government;
  • An ‘elective dictatorship’ exists due to the lack of separation of powers twixt the Executive and the Legislature;
  • Most of the rules governing the Office of Prime Minister are nowhere set down in legal form.

It is a tad ironic that the arguments against a codified constitution (page 24) actually do make the case for a codified constitution and for a change to our system of democracy; and include:

  • The present system most definitely ‘is broke’ and therefore does need ‘fixing’; as can be seen by this sides later arguments;
  • Change most definitely is wanted (who says it is not wanted – Katie Ghose, CEO of the Electoral Reform Society, who it could be said has a vested interest?);
  • There are insufficient institutional checks and balances on the actions, decisions and policies of the executive (an ‘elective dictatorship’) – contrary to what the argument against maintains because: (a) intra-party dissent may well exist but promptly dissolves once the Whips get to work; (b) the ability of the House of Lords to delay legislation is negated by, if necessary, use of the Parliament Act; (c) the mass media is, by and large, uncritical; and (d) while it is necessary for political parties to court public opinion come election time, outside said occasions it can do as it damn well pleases.

Yet again we see public input being requested yet how much weight will that opinion have when weighed against those who might be considered ‘stakeholders’ – such as Katie Ghose? Just what is the point in involving the public when, as with any recall of an MP, Parliament will have the final decision? An elective dictatorship, indeed.

It would be interesting to know the personal feelings/views of those sitting on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, especially as the report states that it is not the intention of the committee to influence. For example, take Graham Allen who, from Wikipedia, we learn is a proponent of democratic reform and supports independent local government, some proportional representation and a fully elected House of Lords; that in 1995 he wrote “Reinventing Democracy” and in November 2002 he published The Last Prime Minister: Being Honest About the UK Presidency, claiming that the UK effectively had a presidency; and that the Prime Minister (or ‘President’, as he referred to the office throughout the book) should be directly and separately elected in order for a better separation of powers.

However ‘saintly’ may be the intentions of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, I have to ask why it is the cynic in me suspects this is just another charade in the long-running – and constantly failing – attempt to bridge the gap twixt politicians and those they are supposed to represent.

This report appears to be but another effort to tinker with representative democracy while attempting to convince the people that they are the masters, ie that they are sovereign – a state they can never attain under representative democracy.

That the political class will not voluntarily visit their version of Dignitas is a given and if change to true democracy is really wanted by the people then they are going to have to get behind this idea.


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Open Europe, late to the party – again

In their press summary today Open Europe triumphantly proclaim that a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has shown that Clegg’s 3 million jobs claim is incorrect.

If Open Europe deigned to read blogs they could have saved themselves the time and effort of inputting that FoI request as Clegg’s claim was proved false on 1st October 2013.

Coincidentally this 3 million jobs being dependent on our membership of the European Union is one of the accusations which will be put to my Member of Parliament when I meet him at 3pm this afternoon at which time I shall be accusing him of being less than candid – or, if you prefer, being economical with the actualité – about matters EU’.

A report of this meeting will appear on this blog at approximately 1600/1630 hours.

 


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Maria Eagle flies a kite (again)

For too long politicians have been prone to misinforming the general public – one could say lying – and all for the purpose of making political capital. The latest example of this deceitful form of politics is Maria Eagle, giving a speech at the new environmentally friendly offices of the WWF in Woking.

Having already tried it once, she is trying again; and with not much success, even allowing for the fact that this time she was preying not only on Owen Paterson, but also David Cameron, the Conservative Party, George Osborne and Michael Fallon – not forgetting flooding and air pollution.

Where the question of the Somerset Floods are concerned, Richard North comprehensively explained on his blog, EUReferendum.com, the effects of EU competence and what little room for manoeuvre any UK government has in this area.

For Eagle to talk about flooding being consistent with climate change is stretching incredulity to its limit when it would be just as consistent to say that flooding is caused by climate change or global warming – and in any event did not the Met Office eventually blame the flooding on a change in the jet stream? Also for Eagle to to use the word consistent and to state that 97% of scientists have stated that small shifts in global temperature will cause massive impacts for millions of people is also misleading when in fact NASA, quoting the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, state that global warming is probably human induced. I know that it is unnecessary to explain to readers the meaning of the word ‘probably’.

Maria Eagle also turns her fire on air pollution, but wait one moment – was it not the party of which she is a member that increased air pollution by getting everyone to purchase diesel-powered vehicles when it has now been proved that they are bigger polluters than petrol-powered vehicles? Hypocrisy? What, Maria Eagle? Surely not.

Blaming all the environmental woes on the present government, incompetent as they undoubtedly are, while suggesting that her party will, in effect, introduce measures to control our climate is as far-fetched as supposing that when the time comes for a tunnel between Liverpool and Belfast in order to complete the EU’s North West Priority Corridor her party will be able to just as magically part the waters of the Irish Sea.

We all know that politicians lie, but must they do it so blatantly?

 

 


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Democracy, Devoution, Disaster

If we look around us, wherever that may be; in the street, on the bus or train, in the main-stream media or social media, there are complaints on just about every topic under the sun where the governance of this country is concerned – and it seems to matter not which political party is forming our government. It would seem that each and every one of us has forgotten the word ‘experience’; otherwise known as the wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have previously embraced.

Probably one of the most overused words in the English language, among politicians and those within the Westminster Bubble, is the word ‘democracy’. Aristotle is reputed to have said that democracy arose from man’s belief that if they were equal in any respect, they were equal absolutely. In that regard readers may well recall Ronald Reagan, in his first inaugural address, pose the question that if none of us are able to govern ourselves, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else.

Some decades ago there could be discerned a difference twixt the two largest parties in this country, with it generally being held that one stood for conservatism and the other socialism. The detractors of socialism often make the point that democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality; but that while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. Unfortunately today it matters not which particular political party gain office, they all seek equality by means of restraint and servitude.  If liberty and equality are to be found in democracy then they will only be found when every person takes an active part in the governance of themselves.

Daniel Hannan, writing about Dr. Johnson, states that the latter said of actors that they took to the stage for a living and were “no better than creatures set upon tables and joint-stools to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs”; adding their particular craft was no more than one of deception. When considering the present puerile state to which our politicians have sunk, one might be forgiven thinking that Johnson was also a prophet.

The political class and those in the Westminster Bubble are currently convulsed with ‘matters Scotland’ and stating that if Scotland is to have increased devolved powers then so should England, Wales and Northern Ireland which necessitates the need for an English parliament, thus solving the West Lothian Question – with John Redwood entering the fray today with this article.

It will not, hopefully, have escaped the attention of readers the art of deception that is indeed practiced by our politicians. Note how Redwood writes: …..England too wants and deserves devolved government, enjoying the same powers of self determination of laws, spending and taxes as our Scottish neighbours and friends. Whether England has its own parliament or not (and leaving to one side the added complication of the UK’s membership of the European Union), one has to ask Redwood exactly what powers of self-determination do we, the people, have over laws we are forced to observe or over taxation or spending? We are unable to decide whether we agree with the laws we are told to obey, neither can we object to any one of them. Likewise, we are not asked fur our agreement on the level of taxation we are forced to pay, under pain of imprisonment if we do not, nor on how that taxation is spent.

Present day politics can best be described as differing ideologies or roads which forcibly lead us from nowhere to nothing. Present day elections can best be described as (1): a situation in which we are consulted, by means of manifestos, on various courses of action that have already been decided upon, the details of which we know not; and (2): an expression of opinion by means of a ballot through which we are allowed the privilege to vote for a man or woman chosen by other men or women. None of the foregoing can be described, by any stretch of the imagination, as democracy.

.We are regaled with assertion after assertion from our political class about their need to occupy the common ground or to stay in the middle of the road. Even the dumbest among us knows what happens to such people – eventually they get trampled upon or run over and thus become yet another statistical casualty. Politicians need to be made to realise that we too can decide whether we wish to become a statistical casualty – and at far less personal cost.

We are informed in the Bible that the meek shall inherit the earth and we have become such by our acquiescence to what is no more than democratised dictatorship – and we all know that dictatorships can only get worse before they are eventually overthrown. Are we not informed by politicians that they are not our masters, but our servants; but then continue to act as our masters? But when will people realise that politicians will never willingly cede the powers they hold (and add to virtually day by day), that what is conventionally considered to be true ‘localism’ will never come to pass on their watch; and that as a result people will continue to be held in restraint and servitude?

The state of meekness can also be a period of patience while revenge is planned, a revenge that is worthwhile. Little known among people is that a blueprint for that revenge already exists and through its implementation guarantee that never again could our political class and their ‘little helpers’ ever again usurp, without our permission, that which is rightfully ours.


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