This ‘U’ turn business seems catching

ED Miliband made what is known as a volte-face yesterday, or as we plebs call it – a ‘U’ turn, on the subject of immigration and for those who hang on his every word a transcript of his speech can be found here.

It is not my intention to dwell on the content of his post – his immigrant background; I think we get the message, Ed; nor that it appears to be a cynical ploy to garner votes – look at me, look where I’ve got to; neither will I dwell on the Andrew Nether problem that dogs EdM”s party. Neither will I dwell on his ‘One Nation’ idea as that appears to have been first proposed by Reginald Maudling in 1973 (see here).

There is a far more important point to be made in respect of EdM’s speech and that is that once again we see a politician telling us what we need to do, as a country, to rectify past mistakes made by our politicians. Note that we are not being asked what we would like to do but what we must do – and when anyone tells me that I must do something, my first question is: ‘Why’? If we are to have democracy in this country the first thing that has to happen is that politicians need to desist from telling us what we can and cannot do, what we must and must not do. That that is a forlorn hope is one that we need to take further, the reasons for which I will now attempt to explain.

There is much talk by our political class about “democracy” so let us do just that and discuss it  – but first we must look at the origin of the word, and then define the word. The word originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”, which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (kratos) “power”.

Democracy should be a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy should allow people to participate equally in the proposal, development, and creation of laws which will encompass the social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.

There are several variants of “democracy” and the two most basic forms used are “Direct Democracy” and “Representative Democracy”. Both systems acknowledge the people as having sovereign power but whereas Direct Democracy allows the people to have direct and active participation in the decision making of the government thus exercising their political power, in Representative Democracy political power is exercised indirectly through elected representatives who “represent” those that elect them.

A country that practices Direct Democracy is Switzerland, in which the Federal Government has responsibility for limited areas of responsibility, with all others devolved to Cantons and Communes. In Switzerland the people can challenge any law, at any time, by means of gaining sufficient signatures calling for a referendum to be held. The people also have the right to propose an “initiative”, again having secured sufficient signatures, which can, if it gains a majority, force the Swiss government to adopt a law that the politicians may not want. As can be seen, at all times during the life of a government the people are the fount of all political power.

Contrast that situation with that which exists in this country under the system of Representative Democracy. In the United Kingdom politicians are elected to represent their constituents, yet in their 5-year term of office the people of the United Kingdom are powerless to question the laws that Parliament may propose and then implement. The people have no power of “referendum” nor “initiative”, neither do they have any “voice” over the levels of taxation that governments may decide to impose, nor on what that money will be spent. This situation, one that exists at “national” as well as “local” level, is not democracy but one of democratized dictatorship or, as some may prefer to term it, parliamentary dictatorship.

Recently – on the subject of taxation, but it can well apply to any area in which ‘government’ intrudes into our lives – a local Tory Councillor wrote:

“It’s us politicians who set the rules and the rate not the taxpayer………..”

But that is what politicians do wherever one looks – set the rules; that is their raison d’etrê, one with but a single aim of control and thus enabling them to exercise, virtually, total power. To a certain extent, grudging admiration must be given to the political class for the fact they have taken democracy per se, one meaning “people power” and, over time, tweaking it to become to mean “political power”. That grudging admiration must, though, be tinged with regret because it is we, the people, that have allowed the political class to cement their raison d’etrê into our society and the beliefs we now hold – and it is only in the recent few years that this is now becoming recognized by the people, who are beginning to question and complain.

The problem that the people now have is that the political class have managed to numb their minds to the extent that they, the political class, have gone out of their way to convince the people there is no other form of democracy – but there is an other way. Presently politicians are busy devolving power to the people – or so they maintain – yet if one looks closely what is being devolved is but a license to practise some freedoms that should be the people’s anyway. It should be remembered that a license granted can just as easily be rescinded. What is now required, if the people are to have any voice in how they are to live their lives, is for them to reassert their sovereignty – that their country belongs to them and not to a select few. This can be done by a statement, one of simplicity:

“We, the Sovereign People of the United Kingdom do hereby redeem and declare our Sovereignty. We assert our right, jointly and severally, to the ownership of the United Kingdom and to the unfettered control thereof. As a Sovereign People, owing no allegiance or duty to any other government or state beyond these shores, we declare we are not bound by any statutes or laws other than those which we ourselves approve.”

That statement – and the 6 Demands linked to previously – is the “other way”, one by which means the inalienable right that we all possess can be asserted; an inalienable right that cannot then be taken from us by any body – governmental or otherwise. It is by that course of action the, what may be termed, oligarchic system under which we, in the United Kingdom, now live, can be consigned to the dustbin of history.


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6 Responses

  1. Antisthenes says:

    Dare I say it but the only way to have true democracy is to have a one party state. A party that every citizen over the age of eighteen is a member which would of course ensure that every vested and political interest was represented. Through manageable size constituencies all could instigate or repudiate laws and determine what government does or does not do through debate and vote(in effect mini parliaments). This would ensure that all were involved in the political process and by allowing all votes to pass onto the national parliament that every vote would count. This system of course would make politicians redundant and civil servants accountable directly to the people.

    • IanPJ says:

      Antisthenes

      What about a no party state.

      A parliament of neutral independent members.
      A parliament where those elected to represent their constituents did just that.
      A parliament where any vote could be subjected to approval by plebiscite should the public demand it.
      A parliament whose members could be removed for ignoring the wishes of the people.
      A parliament where the rule of law was strictly observed, where it would be applied to members and public equally.
      A parliament that would be subservient to a constitutional court as well as voters.

      Who actually needs political parties apart from the parties themselves? or am I wishing for too much?

      • Antisthenes says:

        Actually what I am proposing is in reality a no party state although I couched my idea in terms of a one party state because that is also true because every citizen over 18 would be a member. Your first two points goes along with how I envisage how a true democracy would work get rid of MPs and replace them with apolitical constituency representatives. All debating and voting happens at local level where everyone can have their say and can vote; the ordinary people and vested interest which includes political parties. There is no parliament there would be no need. An executive would be elected to run the country on a day to day basis those chosen to do so would be apolitical and be selected on administrative and non partisan abilities and would only govern according to the wishes of the people. Of course this system to set up would be confronted by many practical problems but none that would be insurmountable. If we are going to have a radical reform of our political system then we have to think far out of the box and throw traditional ways of doing things away as they are patently not working. This system would cover the rest of your wish list either because it would make them irrelevant or the natural checks and balances inherent in the system would do the job.

  2. Antisthenes says:

    In my previous comment I used the term mini parliaments which in retrospect was unfortunate perhaps agoras would be a better name.

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