Tuesday, 20 March 2018


People without any ‘power’ find it difficult to get things changed which leaves them with two alternatives.

The first is to seize power at its source, with the initial and subsequent problems associated with a revolution, and the second is to influence the power brokers in such a way that they are faced with no alternative but to accept the changes that are demanded. This second is of course the whole reason for the Trades Union movement coming into being.

THA has always been very clear that our aim is to lawfully persuade the decision makers to accept our demands and enact them. So, protests that don’t influence or get to the source of ‘power’ will never make much headway.

 Sovereignty now resides with parliament, having demanded it for the monarch, and so it is to the MPs at Westminster that we must bring pressure to bear if we are ever to achieve the radical reforms to our parliamentary system that are so necessary and that we desire.

THA has no wish to actually govern but simply wants, when necessary, to influence the decision-making process. We believe that political rule is a precondition for a just and stable democracy and we have no wish to throw the baby out with the bath water. 

We support he FPTP electoral system as the best and least corrupting of any electoral process and we still favour constituency MPs but less of them. So, in terms of the baby in the bath our prescription is to change the water as laid out with our six demands.  

That our system needs reform is shown on a daily basis as increasingly the current system protects its own and proves it is stacked against, not only, the individual but also the thus far silent majority.  

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

BBC Institutional bias.

For many years I monitored, recorded and complained to the BBC about their bias particularly in the areas of their sympathies with the left of centre in politics, their support for the EU and their obvious acceptance and promotion of Global Warming or now more commonly called Climate Change.

In January 2009 I started a blog called BBCINSTITUTIONALBIAS and a summary of my stance can be read in ‘My Last Post’ I wrote in March last year. The link to this is here:-

As you will read I decided my stance had run its course and it was time to concentrate my time and efforts on THA.  As I commented it was for others to pick up the gauntlet, over the BBC’s undoubted bias, with my blog still available as a historical record and reference for those continuing the fight.

The BBC still continues its bias reporting a pace, having been fairly neutral during the referendum campaign, they now are clearly back into wearing their Europhile clothes and lapping up the whole diversity and sexual harassment issues, which they totally overplay.  As a result the issue of the BBC licence fee occasionally raises its head with the debate as to whether it is still justified in this era of Netflix, multichannel and  online TV.

Personally I long for the chance to have my voice heard by this or any government as to whether the TV licence should continue and for my money it shouldn’t.

Our Agenda, contained in our six demands, sets out the mechanisms for the people to give their opinion on such matters. For what is pretty clear is that this or any government simply doesn’t have the ‘bottle’ to cut the bias, bloated, bureaucratic BBC down to size.   

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Blunders of our Governments.

Since reading ‘Blunders of our Governments’ by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe, published in 2014, I find I often refer to it especially when reviewing or commenting on the complete hash our government is making of Brexit. 

The purpose of this post is to outline and summarise the chapters of the book which I hope you will read as it supports the need for THA in so many ways.

The book is divided into four parts as follows :-

Part I
Sets the tone and acts as an introduction

Part II
Lists over a dozen of examples of government blunders from the Thatcher years up to the last Coalition government.

 Part III
Lists five ‘Human’ reasons for government blunders.

1.Cultural disconnect – Typified by Tony Blair’s idea, in 2000, of marching louts to cashpoints to pay £100 fines for anti-social behaviour. It failed because he was made aware that most louts don’t have bank accounts. In short far too many MPs have no idea how the other half live.

2. Group Think  - Has some relationship with the above but is different and is often summarized as the’ Westminster Bubble Syndrome’ in which MP’s often resort to circling the wagons to fend off criticisms. GT is made far worse as MPs seldom if ever, allow grit into their oyster and only hear form people they want to hear from. GT makes blunders far more probable.

3.Prejudice and pragmatism – In politics this often falls under the heading of ‘ideology’ which could be either right or wrong and applicable to an individual or the whole of government. For example, for 30 years after WW2 nationalisation was accepted without question.

4. Operational disconnect – This is summarized by the old maxim that anyone planning a military operation should be the same person to lead it, which ensures that they are personally involved in the outcome of their deliberations. 

5. Panic, symbols and spin  - Summarized in the saying “ something must be done” which led to such disasters as the Dangerous Dog Act and the fiasco that was the Millennium Dome.
All of these five areas could be less prone to blunders if the voice of people could be better heard as advocated by THA.

Part IV
Lists seven ‘System Failures’ as to why blunders happen.

1.Centre cannot hold – Points out how PMs are the furthest ministers removed from any need to address problems of implementation and they do not have as much power as some might believe and also the situation with ministers being isolated in their departments. Central control is therefore largely a myth.

2. Musical chairs – discusses the problems with ministers coming and going through reshuffles, and not forgetting misdemeanours! Quite simply, our system of government does not allow for the build-up of expertise.
A separation of power, as advocated by our third demand, would allow for a cabinet to be made up of real experts as it does not rely on ministers only coming from the ranks of the government’s MPs.

3. Ministers as activists – Far too much is expected of ministers who all seek to achieve a lasting legacy in office and thus in their hurry for fame end up blundering.

4. Lack of accountability – No minsters are ever punished for blunders on their watch and even if they are sacked they often end up promoted into the Lords. Minsters are not implementing policies with their own money and there is a non-existent relationship between long term success and failure and personal triumph or disgrace. Lastly success is seldom recognised. 

5. Peripheral parliament -  Summed up by the author’s comment that ‘parliament occasionally barks, frequently nips but seldom bites’. I must also add my own comment that the current Speaker of the House is a disgrace and brings the whole House into disrepute.
THA of course believes the people need a greater say in their governance and in the performance of their MPs.

6. Asymmetries of expertise – Put simply there is a lack of real expertise and knowledge in governments.

7. Deficit of deliberation – Governments hoard power and never have serious debates to discuss both sides of an argument. Further, the need to keep the governing party ‘popular’ means unpopular decisions are seldom dealt with, as contentious issues are avoided for fear of losing the argument.  As mentioned above grit is never allowed to enter the government oyster.
THA would allow the ‘grit’ of the people to have a greater say in their governance.  

Brings the book up to publishing date by covering the blunders of the Coalition Government. 

In summary, the book shows how blunders are not a sequence of unrelated episodes but follow a pattern. It would seem if blunders are to be reduced it is the British governing system and the ways in which officials function within that system that needs to change. Individuals should be held to account for incompetence but the most important factor is the radical reform of our system of governance.

The Harrogate Agenda, with its six demands, offers us the radical political change that is long overdue and for me the wisdom or folly of the ‘people’ is imminently favourable to the short supply of wisdom but abundance of folly from our governments. 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


While the mass movement of the Chartists, between 1838-1858, gave us some inspiration for the formation of THA it was the more recent work on 'Referism' by Dr Richard North that really helped lay the foundations and principles on which our six demands are constructed.

The link below starts by explaining :-

Referism is a political philosophy which states that, in the relationship between the British people and their governments, the people should be in control. The state is the servant not the master. Control is primarily achieved by submitting annual state budgets to the people for approval, via referendums. The catchphrase is: "it's our money and we decide". Governments are thereby forced to refer to the people for their funding, hence the term "referism".


At the end of the above post, written in May 2011, there are an additional 18 links to other related posts on the same subject.

14 months later, in July 2012, the inaugural meeting of what became The Harrogate Agenda took place at the Old Swan Hotel Harrogate.

I'm of the strong opinion that nothing much is going to change, politically in this country, until the 'people' make it happen. Exactly what the catalyst will be that wakes up the 'people' from their slumber is still an unknown but a botched Brexit, with damaging economic consequencies for the country as a whole, might well provide the spark? 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Constituency Boundary Changes

In February 2016 The Boundary Commission (TBC) was tasked to review our parliamentary constituency boundaries and to report their findings by September this year. This review was to achieve two things. First to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and second to even out the discrepancies that had developed over the years, from population movement, that some constituencies had a bigger electorate than others.

On the basis that ‘turkeys would never vote for Christmas’ I was not surprised to read in the ‘Times’ yesterday that MPs were not happy with the review and indeed you may recall Nick Clegg put pay to the idea back in the Coalition days. The paper reminded me of two high profile potential causalities namely Jeremy Corbyn’s seat in Islington which would likely disappear and Boris Johnson’s in Uxbridge which redrawn would be vulnerable to a Labour challenge.

As a result, of the rumblings in the House of Commons and the hostility from many MPs, the Commons Public Administrative & Constitutional Affairs Committee has called on the PM this week, who amazingly stills supports the reduction of MPs to 600 and TBC proposed boundary changes, to abandon these plans. Instead the Cross-party Committee suggests TBC is allowed to produce a new map, keeping the number of MPs at 650, which would more likely pass through the Commons this September and thus be in place before the election in 2022.

Now the glaring omission form this debate and proposed future legislation is any involvement from the electorate as to whether we want or need 650 MPs, which given their collective incompetence over planning a safe Brexit, is highly unlikely.

Just by way of comparison with the USA the figures for those governing and the governed are quite startling. I will round up or down all figures for simplicity.

America has a population 323 million and a House of Representatives of 435 and a Senate of just 100. This gives a ratio of a H of R member to electorate of 1:700,000.

On the other hand, the UK has a population of 66 million and a House of Commons of 650 and a House of Lords of 800. This gives a ration of MPs to electorate of 1:101,000 
THA’s second demand for ‘Real Local Democracy’ suggests we could probably manage with just 300 MPs with the numbers allocated to counties with the ebb and flow of populations being taken into account before every election thus defusing any discussion or debate. For example, my own county of Somerset has five constituencies with each MP averaging an electorate of just 82,000. This could easily be reduced to three if not two constituencies which could be increased or reduced depending on the overall population movement in the county.

We also propose each county could set their own MPs pay and allowances and bring in a power of recall, between elections, if they choose to do so.

THA’s proposals offer us REAL democracy which at the moment, by any measure, we simply don’t have.


Monday, 12 February 2018

CHARTISM - by M. Chase.

CHARTISM - 'A New History' by Malcolm Chase is the first book I read on the subject of political reform back in 2012 after the THA's inaugural meeting in Harrogate and I recommend it as a sound base from which to grow an overall understanding of the historic roots to our cause.

This review is from the back page of the book:-

Chartism, the mass movement for democratic rights, dominated British domestic politics in the late 1830s and 1840s. Few modern European social movements, certainly in Britain, have captured the attention of posterity to quite the extent it has done. Encompassing moments of great drama, it is one of the very rare points in British history where it is legitimate to speculate how close the country came to revolution. It is also pivotal to debates around continutity and change in Victorian Britain,gender,language and identity.

Malcolm Chase deftly analyses the scope and character of Chartism and explores the aspirations and visions of those who called themselves Chartists. His analysis extends across the whole of Britian, also to Ireland, and to issues of race and gender as well as re-evaluating established themes in Chartists studies. Thoughout, the author relates the intimate and personal to the realm of the social and political, interspersing his chapters with short 'Chartist lives' that illuminate the experience of 'grassroots' Chartists.

This is the only book to offer in-depth coverage of the entire chronological spread (1838-1858) of this pivotal movement and to consider its rich and varied history in full. Based throughout on original research (including newly discovered material), this is a vivid and compelling narrative of a movement which mobilised three million people at its height. This book will become essential reading for anyone with an interest in early Victorian Britian:specialists, students and general readers alike.        

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Rome wasn't built in a day.

I believe there are two reasons why, since its conception in 2012, THA hasn’t yet progressed to become a mass movement. The first, is that the vast majority of people are still too comfortable in their double glazed, centrally heated houses with two cars outside. The second, is that from a historical perspective such radical political reforms, as contained in our six demands, were never likely to be realised quickly. It is this second reason that I want to enlarge on this week.

Big ideas take time to implement and history is littered with ideas that come and go because their founders are trying to run a marathon at a sprint.

 The Chartist movement (1838-1857), from whom we took inspiration, actually only lasted 19 years but in that time, they left an indelible mark on our politicians who over the next 20 -73 years enacted five of their six demands. However, what one must also factor into the time taken, for each demand to be realised, is that the general dissatisfaction with the system of governance started some 70 years before the Chartists officially started. The Reform Act of 1832, also before the Chartists formed, being a key component of the political reforms that were needed.

For the record let me list the Chartists demands and the year of enacted and the time taken, form 1838, for each to become law.

1. 1858 – No property qualification for MPs – 20 years
2. 1872 -  A secret ballot – 34 years
3. 1884 -  A vote for every man over 21 – 46 years
4. 1885 – Constituencies of equal size -  47 years
5. 1911 – Payment for MPs – 73 years
6. Annual General Elections – never enacted – thankfully!

Another topical example is the time taken for the formation of the Common Market and EU. Monet first thought of the idea in 1917 and as we know the European Economic Community came into being in 1957 some 40 years later and the EU some 36 years after that with the Maastricht Treaty.

As I said above those with a big idea, but in a hurry, never seem to last the pace and our own UKIP is testimony to that and the 5 Star Movement in Italy is, so I read this week, on the wane with their leader Beppe Grillo bailing out, and with disarming candour, saying the real need is to create a “new people” and not a new ruling class which was his initial aim. Two further points to make here is that new political parties, competing with the status quo, seldom if ever break through the existing system while mass people movements, pressurizing existing politicians of all colours, do seem to work over time.

In conclusion people with a clear vision set about laying firm foundations and then soldier on, regardless of the time needed, until they hopefully see their dreams realised. However, some don’t live to see their dreams fulfilled and one can wonder what would have happened to the 170 parks designed by Lancelot (Capability) Brown had he expected to see the finished results of his work in his life time.

As the saying goes Rome wasn't built in a day.