Thursday, June 19, 2008

Loathing of elections has led British democracy to atrophy

This article in the Guardian is well worth a read. Simon Jenkins wonders

Have you noticed how the political establishment hates elections? It regards them as vulgar, foreign, exhibitionist and unpredictable. To those in power they are mere concessions to mob rule. If electors did not insist on them, elections would have been abolished long ago as Victorian gimmicks to appease proletarian sentiment.
He points out that with the Irish having said "no" the eurocrats are now telling us that, despite the rules, 5 million people cannot stop the 500 million people of Europe on their plunge towards Federalism. He says
The treaty is defunct when rejected by a member of the Union. Yet I have heard commentators argue that 5 million Irish cannot be allowed to stand over against 500 million Europeans - as if the rule was not really a rule and as if the 500 million had ever been asked their view. None had, for the obvious reason that they would have agreed with the Irish. A writer in the Financial Times even depicted Ireland as a snivelling little country that should be kicked into the sea. That is how Belgium and Poland were once treated. European super-statehood seems to drive people mad.
He makes the very good point that I have said before. Only Ireland has had a vote we don't know what other countries would have said. We do know that both France and Holland, when voting on the old Constitution that forms the real basis of the Lisbon Treaty, booted it out, which is why we got the revised wordsmithing that is the Lisbon Treaty.

On the subject of David Davis and his resignation to allow voters to give their opinion of 42 days detention he has this to say
Westminster politicians and lobby reporters derided Davis as an exhibitionist, a loner and crazy. Why did he not wait for parliament to handle the matter? Why not stick within the club? Did he not realise that the public disagreed with him over 42 days, as revealed in Westminster's favourite franchise, the polls? Worst of all, Davis was currying favour with mere voters, as if he were consorting in the servants' hall.

By Sunday, when thousands of members of the public (and celebrities) had rallied to Davis's flag, Westminster was gulping and wondering if it had missed something. It had. As in Ireland, the public liked being asked its view. That is why 80% of people want a referendum on Lisbon, irrespective of their being more evenly divided on its virtues.

So we see that when offered a chance the public is gasping to take it, even if it is just in a single by-election.

Finally Simon considers the changes to Local Government democracy with the impending white paper from Hazel Blears strangely titled "Local Empowerment". It is of course nothing of the sort Labour do not believe that anyone else but them knows best. As Simon says
Today's councilors must contract with Whitehall, not with their voters. Blears's proposals will have no truck with elective discretion or tax devolution. The present Treasury minister, Yvette Cooper, wrote in 2004 that localism means "nimbyism and divisive inequalities". To her and her colleagues, Lenin was right and democratic centralism was all the accountability needed for better public services.
Ouch that is probably a bit better than I could have expressed it, but it is so true and with our Joe Stalin we have a "leader" who thinks he knows better than all the rest of us, how wrong he is being proved.

It's time government realised that people can decide for themselves what is good for them both locally and nationally. Unfortunately broken promises and failed government are not allowing us to do this via our elected representatives.

Simon Jenkins: Loathing of elections has led British democracy to atrophy | Comment is free | The Guardian

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