Tag Archive: Democracy

A question

Little noticed – or reported – it would appear was a speech given by José Manuel Durão Barroso on 21st September to the Yale School Management, his speech being entitled: The European Union in the New World Order.

We all know that speeches by Barroso are boring (like all politicians, he tends to like the sound of his own voice) while the content invariably requires dissection to understand what it is he is saying; but this speech needs to be read as a question follows.

On the assumption that readers have digested Barroso’s speech, the question I have relates to the West Lothian Question and the latest ‘wheeze’ of our political class to devolve power away from Westminster, coupled with the idea floated by some of our political class that a constitutional convention is needed to discuss and decide said devolution of power.

When one considers that a great deal of the power Westminster had has been ceded to the European Union; that local authorities and cities are already constrained by existing directives and regulations issued by the European Union; and that the European Union already has its claws into local authorities and cities through grants made to them by Brussels – just what powers is there left to be devolved?

There is also the point that if we have – as we surely do – a New World Order (not forgetting Mandelson’s infamous statement about a Post Democratic Age) just what is gained by what would, in effect, be a faux devolution of power. It is, I would suggest, yet another ‘window dressing’ exercise to make ‘the man in the street’ believe he is getting ‘democracy’.

We also have to recall that were a constitutional convention to be held it would have to bear in mind a little known dictat of the European Union; that European Union law has supremacy over not only national law, but also constitutional law.

What we have here is but another example of hens deciding how they wish to run their hen-house while forgetting that the fox is already in residence.

 


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2014
09/29

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David's Musings

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Yes, What if……?

An interesting – and intriguing – ‘what if’ article has appeared by Peter Kellner of YouGov fame. Yes, it is purely supposition; but then what else do opinion pollsters do but engage in supposition?

As in 2010, were Kellner’s scenario come to pass, it would once again allow a select few to barter their political principles in order to gain the power to dictate the future direction of this country. Yet again the electorate would be forced to accept a manifesto on/for which they had never been given the opportunity of voting, coupled with the point that that with which they had ended up was not that for which they had initially voted.

Just where is any vestige of democracy in such a scenario?

If politicians can openly admit they have an agenda of their own (and unknown to the electorate) just where is there any vestige of democracy? If those voting do not have the chance of obtaining that for which they vote, just what is the point of holding an election?

There, dear reader, you have the biggest condemnation for the present system of representative democracy – aka a ‘rigged deck’.

Once again, just saying.

Now can we have a serious discussion about what democracy is; what it means; and how it should work?

Once again, just asking.

 


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We are not all that Green, Damian.

On Conservative Home Damian Green states that all true Conservatives believe we must remain in the European Union.

There are so many holes in the argument Green proposes that I cannot be bothered to expose them – really. When a politician cites the views of ‘business’ as being of such paramount importance, when neither the politician nor ‘business’ have a clue about that which they pontificate, then just why should fingers be worn to the bone repeating the oft-quoted rebuttal?

Of course, knowing as we do, that politics is but another career one can but wonder whether Green’s agenda encompasses currying favour with his leader in order to start re-climbing the greasy pole to power.

Whilst on the subject of ‘agendas’ should any politician have an ‘agenda’ without us knowing what it is; especially when one considers that they are supposed to only represent the views of their electorate? Just asking………..

 


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Hannan vs Hitchens

Daniel Hannan had an article in the Mail yesterday which has today been torn to shreds by Peter Hitchens on his blog – both are a ‘must read’.

Never one to ‘pull his punches’, Hitchens ends thus:

Finally there’s this outstandingly mistaken passage: ‘From a Conservative point of view, a Ukip MP is surely preferable to a Labour one.’ I should have thought the Tory high command would much prefer to see a Labour MP to a UKIP one. UKIP, for all its faults, is a genuine subversive threat to the pro-EU,  pro-immigration, pro-crime, anti-education, anti-marriage three-party consensus which has spent the past half-century messing up the country. Labour is part of that consensus, as are the Tories, and as Mr Hannan is for as long as he remains part of the Tory machine.

(At least it appears someone in the media has Hannan ‘sussed’).

To those who say we should vote for the Tories, or Ukip, on the basis of any port in a storm, perhaps they should remember that any port in a storm is not necessarily the best option – especially if the ‘navigator’ hasn’t a clue where he/she is heading.

Afterthought: Where the battle of Tories vs Ukip is concerned – which is indeed getting a tad boring – perhaps this comment sums up the feeling of many.


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2014
09/27

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David's Musings

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Never a truer word

Nick Cohen, writing in the Speccie in an article headed: How an Oxford degree – PPE – created a robotic governing class, maintains that the reason we are so badly governed is because most of our prominent politicians studied the same subject at Oxford.

From which:

‘I always invited PPE-ists to my parties,’ said Madeline Grant, who left Oxford last year. ‘They could talk about anything. Whether they knew anything did not bother them in the slightest’.

Having watched the debate on whether bombing of ISIS should take place, never a truer word was said!


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2014
09/25

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David's Musings

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Localism

An interesting article appears on the BBC website authored by Robert Peston, entitled: Why does government do less for the North East than Scotland?

In this article Peston notes that:

Poorer English regions, such as the North East, receive more public funding per head than England as a whole – though they still don’t do as well as Scotland. So total public spending on services is £8,529 per head in England, £10,152 in Scotland, and £9,419 in north-east England. As it happens, in the important provision of healthcare, the North East is actually a bit more generously financed than Scotland, receiving £2,066 per head, compared with £2,051 north of the border – though just £1,662 in the South East.

Peston continues:

…….. the North East is much poorer than Scotland as a whole, and has a disproportionate number of people out of work and in poor health. So it has been the convention since World War Two that there should be an element of correcting these regional social and economic inequalities in the allocation of public funds. Using gross disposable household income as a proxy for inequality, folk in the north east are 12% poorer than Scots, and yet they receive 7% less money for all public services. Three points  immediately arise from this article:

  • Perhaps the reason that the North East has a disproportionate number of people out of work is that central government ‘killed’ what employment there was in the North East when they ‘dispensed’ with shipbuilding, coal mining, and glass production – for example in respect of the latter I believe it correct that, originally, a great deal of ‘Pyrex’ production in the UK was located in the North East.
  • There may well exist a ‘convention’ to correct regional, social and economic inequalities in the allocation of public funds, but where was the agreement of the remainder of the United Kingdom to such a policy?
  • Correction of social and economic inequalities would appear not to be working if it remains that those in the North East are 12% poorer than Scots and yet still receive 7% less money for public services

If taxation is to fund the social and economic care of those in an area then should it not be the decision of those in that area? If one area is suffering social and economic deprivation then is it not for those in that area to decide what taxes, if any, should be raised to pay for the services required – and how they are implemented – to rectify the problems ensuing?

As this article from East Sussex County Council shows, less than a quarter of all local expenditure is raised by council tax, the remainder coming from central government in the form of grants. Then of course there is the ‘bidding process‘ by which additional funds can be made available for businesses. Let us not forget, too, the bureaucratic cost of this massive redistribution of centrally collected funds.

If, for example, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are formed by businesses and local authorities to bring business and civic leaders together to drive sustainable economic growth and create the conditions for private sector job growth in their communities, then why not cut out the middle man, ie LEPs and have local politicians earn their keep?

If local authorities can collect business rates on behalf of central government, why cannot they collect all taxation, deducting that which they need and pass the remainder to central government? If all matters other than defense of the realm, foreign relations, immigration for example were devolved to local authorities, would not the process of tax collection be simplified? Yes, for sure you would have two levels of taxation – local and national – but so what? Plus, by means of each tax take being subject to a previously published estimate on which the electorate could agree or reject, at least they would have had the courtesy of being asked prior to having to pay.

The idea of ‘Referism’ (taxation by and with representation) is part of The Harrogate Agenda and by clicking here you can find, in the left-hand sidebar, each of the 6 Demands explained in a simplified, logical manner.

If we are to have ‘localism’ then let us have it – and not the centrally controlled, faux, localism that will no doubt be foisted on us. After all, they have true localism in Switzerland and it works well – so why not here?

 


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Political disingenuousness

During her speech at the Labour Party Conference today Mary Creagh promised new safety devices as standard on HGVs.

Labour wants walking and cycling and public transport to be attractive options.

Long before lycra and bike helmets, everyone use to cycle.

I want every child to have the chance to learn to ride a bike safely.

And we want to see more people commuting to work by bike, too.

That’s why the next Labour government will ensure that all heavy goods vehicles are fitted with safety devices to protect pedestrians and cyclists. (Emphasis mine)

Source: PoliticsHome live blog.

This statement by Mary Creagh amounts to what can only be termed downright misrepresentation of the facts for party political purposes. The redesign of hgv cabs to provide better driver vision and awareness of road users such as cyclists originated in the World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) operating under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Committee Europe (UNECE); recommendations which are being implemented by the European Union.

In any event this is ‘old news‘; and is also yet another example of the deliberate denial of the two elephants in the room by our politicians about the origin of standards and their implementation.

I was about to write that Mary Creagh should feel utterly ashamed for her misrepresentation, but then an immediate afterthought corrected that – after all why should she be any different to the rest of her class.


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Anyone told Miliband yet?

Followers of ‘matters EU’ will be aware that, theoretically, come November a new Commission will assume office under Jean Claude Juncker. It is logical to assume therefore that when an existing Commissioner makes a statement it is one with the tacit approval of the President of the incoming Commission.

Ed Miliband wishes to raise the minimum wage to £8 per hour if he is elected to form a government come 2015.  Setting aside the fact that logically this will no doubt increase the sale price of whatever is produced, has anyone told Miliband that we have a European Labour Model/Market coming some time in the future?

If the EU is intending to introduce a European Labour Model/Market it won’t just be legislating on a minimum wage – will it?

 


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Participation

It is well known that the failure by those of the electorate who do not vote, when questioned, is because they feel their vote means nothing and if they did, that things would never change.

In writing about the benefits of direct democracy and/or The Harrogate Agenda on this blog, comments have been passed to the effect that people won’t be interested as they can’t be bothered to get involved.

Perhaps the referendum in Scotland has shown that people can become interested and involved when it is obvious that their vote will count and they therefore have the opportunity to decide important matters for themselves and thereby to influence future events.

But then, immediately, the question arises as to what is an important matter – to which the answer must be anything that affects the people, be that a law proposed by the political class, whether their country should become embroiled in military action, or even the expenditure of public money on any given project.

Ukip, for example, in proposing the introduction of direct democracy only propose the use of referenda on subjects which they will decide on which the people may have a voice. That is not participation, per se, in the decision making process but  a continuation of control from the centre.

Powers are to be devolved to Scotland; and, it seems, to the other countries which comprise the United Kingdom; but those powers will only be able to be exercised by the political classes – the people will still be excluded from the final decision made.

If the people of Scotland can be afforded the right to decide whether they wish to be an independent country then surely they should be able to decide how and on what the taxes they are forced to pay should be spent; perhaps they should be able to decide on their education system; the level of law and order – perhaps they should be allowed to decide anything that affects their lives?

We are continually informed that we have participation in the democratic process but what amounts to partial participation is all very well, but why should the people not have full participation?

If we cannot have full participation then perhaps we should just take it?

 

 

 


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2014
09/18

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David's Musings

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What a tangle web we weave…..

…..when first we practice to deceive.

Fraser Nelson, writing on the respective campaigns by both sides in the Scottish Referendum:

It [yes] has outmaneuvered, outsmarted and generally befuddled the three main Westminster parties who spent so long worrying about their positioning, relative to each other, that they forgot about voters.

So what, exactly, is new? Since when have politicians actually cared about those that elect them (except come election time), instead expending all their energy in ‘point scoring’ and attempting to outflank their opposite number(s) – both with the same objective, namely retaining power? Besides toeing the party line, politicians are fond of invoking Burke’s Law, voting as their conscience dictates but are not both examples forgetting about the wishes/views of their voters – assuming of course; they had taken the time and trouble to gauge said wishes/views ? Just where is the representation that politicians frequently state is the reason for their presence in the House of Commons?

A comment was seen today on twitter from the Scottish National Party Member of Parliament for Perth and North Perthshire welcoming the 16 and 17 year-old first time voters and stating that they will do his nation proud. This begs the question that if Scottish adults do not fully understand – dare one use the word ‘intricacies’? – the ‘intricacies’ of ‘independence’  (nay, even democracy) – just what will wet-behind-the-ears teenagers understand? That the average member of the electorate appears not to understand said intricacies is evident from their comments reported in the media and those on twitter.

Politicians on both sides are equally guilty of being economical with the actualite, – ie being economical with the facts. On Salmond and his belief that EU membership for Scotland is a piece of cake, then an article by Bruno Waterfield today dispels that notion – unfortunately too late to have any impact on voter’s knowledge. The Troika (Cameron, Miliband & Clegg) have equally been guilty with their stated wish to devolve more power to Scotland – said devolution will be ‘carefully managed’ if one reads between the lines.

What I suppose amounts to an editorial in the Speccie makes some important observations. The No campaign was fronted by Labour (no doubt through collusion between the leaders of what are called the three main parties – although that is a personal belief), yet Labour has found itself just as reviled as the Conservatives. If my belief is correct, what price democracy (leaving to one side how democracy is ‘delivered’) when three people can decide on how a nation is to be saved – and completely bugger up the operation to the detriment of those being asked to make the final decision? When all politicians – and I repeat the word ‘all’ as I would hate any one politician to feel excluded – do not tell the truth and thereby lie purely to preserve their position and status, then is it any wonder the electorate is confused and thus may well decide on a course of action they might later live to regret?

The Speccie editorial to which I link mentions ‘rage’ that the electorate feel against the political class; that ‘rage’ having been created by a slow process of conditioning us not to think, to accept all that we read and hear in the media; and for those of younger years what they have been ‘taught’ at school – in other words we have been slowly brainwashed.

The thought occurred to me just how far must things progress before that ‘rage’ about which the Speccie writes makes people start to question that which they are told, that a ‘lightbulb moment’ comes whereby they suddenly decide to question that which they are told and begin the process of  ‘finding out for themselves’?

One can but hope that the electorate of the United Kingdom ‘wake up’ to what is happening to them (not just ‘matters’ Scotland, but also ‘matters EU’ and ‘matters politics’) before they too resemble the captives of ISIS who desperately and forlornly say and do anything to negate what they know is their impending death – because if the people don’t, then their impending death (their power to reason, their power to live their lives as they wish) looms immediate.

 

 


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