What’s happened to real politics?

This is the title to an article by Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North prior to being ousted by Chloe Smith (Conservative), an article which is one of a regular series of his which appears in the Norwich Evening News and in which some interesting observations are made.

(click to enlarge)

In the article  (enlargement not that good – apologies) Ian Gibson was asked the question whether he would allow a son or daughter of his to enter politics and, if so, why? Gibson makes the point that the  major criticism was of the pathway from university debating society to government, via various filters such as think tanks. Gibson also makes note of the fact that “My party, right or wrong” is common among MPs; that Parliament is becoming more presidential; that ideology is rarely found as parties continue to ignore serious debate; and on the question of falling party membership it was felt there was no point in joining a party if one’s voice was ignored.

All the above are but examples of what is wrong with representative democracy as practiced by our politicians and condoned by an ill-informed electorate. Having written that which he did, I can but wonder what prevented Gibson taking the logical next step and mentioning direct democracy?

In the same edition of that newspaper another article appeared in relation to Dr. Rupert Read and his idea of “Guardians of Britain’s future”.

If, as Read maintains, democracy means ‘government by the people’, then what, in the name of all that is holy, would we want yet another layer of government placed between the people and parliament? He writes:

“The Guardians would have a power of veto over legislation that was likely to have substantial negative effects for society in the future, the right to review major administrative decisions which substantially affected future people and perhaps also the power to initiate legislation to preserve the basic needs and interests of future people.”

So why not just ask the people themselves? Why not just introduce direct democracy? The mind boggles that the taxpayer has funded education for someone and the end result is a suggestion as ridiculous as that proposed. Sorry Rupert, but your idea does not ‘bear’ thinking about.


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5 Responses

  1. Peter C says:

    I would say Gibson has put his finger on the problem; the professional politician. They have little knowledge or understanding of anything outside of the political process, they replace considered opinion with banal cant, they have no real world experience in pretty much anything and an overblown ego and sense of entitlement.

    Young Rupert, to be kind, seems not to be advocating another political layer. Rather his idea would introduce a random selection of a cross-section of ‘ordinary’ society that would in theory be able to examine and cast down proposed legislation if they considered it inimical to the common interest. It is unworkable for many, many obvious reasons of course, something you would expect from a fourteen year old. As we here generally believe, it would be far better for every law to be put to a referendum instead of the Royal Assent. Such would, of course, strip politicians of 90% of their power so we can be sure that short of revolution there is no chance we would ever see it.

  2. Andy Baxter says:

    I truly hope that we are seeing the beginnings of awareness, an awakening of what is wrong with Britain but alas I fear TPTB will not like the solution we advocate;

    Super Jury’s are not the answer, nor any of the other ‘Big Society’ Peoples power ‘local Mayors’ sideshows; they are all a distraction from seeing the true picture of a centralised control freak mad Executive.

    We have to take back control of our historic birthright, devolution of power and control of the money where it matters to small locales and to control the ‘Government’ of the day by cementing constitutional changes that provide checks and balances between the three organs of governance (Judiciary, Executive and Legislative) where they are subordinate to a rigid written constituion not where currently the Executive control everything including the ability to cede Soveriegnty as they ahve done to a foreign construct like the EU.

    I had an interesting conversation, passionate and heated at times but interesting none the less, with a very well educated intelligent good friend yesterday (A British citizen but born a Pakistani Jew no less)she acknowledged the ills and problems of Britain today but alas her argument was that I should seek to get elected to change things! No matter how hard I tried to convince her that change from within was impossible (and she acknowleded that the current system was broken and not fit for purpose) she could see no other way except the current system (despite my attempts to educate her about The Chartists and other movemements and she eventually accused me of being as bad as the ‘dictatorial’ oligarchy we have today by making ‘demands’ for constitutional change, ergo demands were dictatorial not a birthright as a demos as I argued!

    The discussion moving onto the Swiss Canton and Commune system elicited a very prejudied ‘Nazi gold’ foundation of its current economic strength not as I argued the current basic control of Federal Canton and Commune tax rates by the people right down to their own locales that in some instances in the Canton of Schwyz for example, where the top rate, inclusive of federal, cantonal/communal tax is approximately 22%.

    I also argued that control of Government was essential to a healthy functional democracy; The federal government of Switzerland has sought like any government would do to centralise more power over time but because of their unique constitution of the 216 constitutional amendments proposed between 1874 and 1985, 111 were accepted by the electorate and 105 were rejected, thats almost 50% of the proposed changes to the way theya re governed rejected by the people! Of the 111 which were approved, eight were popular initiatives by the people themsleves and 14 were counter-proposals (moderate variations on popular initiatives put together by parliament). In this way the Swiss have developed a body of legislation which suits their special needs and enjoys popular support, ergo happier governance and more willingness to particiapte in local and national politics.

    Public-interest groups play an important role at the national level too because they are able to launch referenda to block centralised legislation they oppose, ergo popular support can actually influence legislation. Consequently the federal cabinet lobbies the interest groups instead of interest groups (as we see in Britain and mostly corporitist in nature) lobbying the government. This is one important way in which the people, and not the politicians control government in Switzerland.

    Alas I fear an uphill struggle ahead but with the right demands, the right drive, energy, committment and communication and education skills we can succeed, the alternative is too depressing to contemplate….

  3. Andrew Duffin says:

    “The Guardians would have a power of veto over legislation that was likely to have substantial negative effects for society”

    Interesting that he even chose to use the word “Guardian”, is it not?

    Be afraid, be very afraid: after all, “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Who is to say what counts as negative? Why, the Guardian and the BBC, of course. With help and guidance, where needed, from the EU and the UN. They can all be trusted to agree on the most important things, as we know.

    I suspect this would turn out to be a cynical lock against any “populist” legislation: “what’s this, Mr. Ukip, you want to pass a law to leave the EU? Sorry, that clearly would have substantial negative effects. Vetoed. And you want to stop building windmills? Oh, that would clearly have substantial negative effects. Vetoed.”

    And so on.

  4. TomTom says:

    Of 119 Payroll MPs 66% went to Public School. 29% MPs in The Commons went to Oxford or Cambridge. At Oxford you joined the Labour Club because it was easy to get to the top and have a title for your CV. OUCA was for social events and thoroughly public school corrupt reeking of class politics.

    Debating Clubs exist in public schools so the art of debating something you don’t believe in prepares them for Politics/Media/Law – the three wells from which these institutions draw their intake. Oxford Union adds the Politics to the Debates just as Cherwell adds it to the Journalism.

    In waiting for a safe seat – there is Tory Central Office if your family can pull strings; Journalism if you meet the right people, Accountancy if not. At least an employer that accepts your need for free time to campaign for Council, Party or Parliament….that means your employer looks to the gravy train.

    So you have Lobbyists and Media as a place to warehouse the politico before he gets a Council seat and an income to prepare him for his safe seat or Think Tank job with a sponsor.

    That is why Politics is skewed this way

    • david says:

      Excellent comments from all so far – not that I would expect anything less from the erudite readership that I have!

      The only comment I would make is that I disagree with Peter C that every law should be put to a referendum – which would be time consuming. All that we need is the ability to have a referendum to block, amend any proposed law, plus the ability to force politicians to introduce any law that we want and that they don’t.

      As Andy B states above, by reversing the consultation/lobbying process it would result in only proposals for laws that politicians knew would, more than likely, receive public assent.

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