Sunday, 17 March 2019

What we can learn from Gene Sharp.

I have mentioned recently, on more than one occasion, that to get our six demands enacted will take a mass movement employing some of the strategy and tactics and methods of Gene Sharp from his book ‘ From dictatorship to democracy’ - I therefore decided to re-read his 135 page book this weekend and write this post. A key point to make is that his book is dealing with getting rid of a dictator ( I know the likes of Blair acted as if they were!)  where as THA’s aim is revolutionary reform of our democracy. Even so there are important lessons form his book we can learn and I list below his main points and my own observations applicable to THA:-

  1. In his Preface he makes two points very clearly. First, his publication is far from perfect. Second, that nowhere does he suggest the struggle will be quick, easy or cost free. There will be casualties. I believe if our strategy and tactics are ‘Smart’ and peaceful and given we are not facing a real dictator we should avoid the loss of life so long as no individual goes off on his own initiative and attempts to take the law into their own hands.    

  1. Protests must be coordinated and planned which requires leadership and one must develop a Grand Strategy, Strategy, Tactics and Methods which should then be broadcast far and wide. Our plans should not be kept as a secret

  1. The authorities will always beat violent protests as they play to their strengths as they control the police and army. Protest should play to the dictators weaknesses. This is a very important point.

  1. If people want change the solutions are in THEIR hands. If they sit on them nowt will happen!

  1. Non-violent struggle is a much more complex and varied means of struggle than using violence. We should take note.

  1. In his Appendix he lists 198 methods of non-violent struggle. Only some of these will apply to THA after careful analysis and debate.

  1. Large demonstrations while dramatic usually lead to trouble which could be caused my ill disciplined protesters or even agent provocateurs.  Non-violent protest will be safer,  

  1. Non-violent action works in four ways – conversion, accommodation, non-violent coercion and disintegration – for details read his book!

  1. Stick to the ‘Plan’ and never expect instant results – THA’s demands will take at least a generation to come about.

  1. Peaceful actions avoid conflict like withdrawal of support and non-cooperation  - always fight smart.

  1. One must know one’s goal – we have our six demands.

  1. The changes sought will require a new constitution which will take time and require the participation of the public to form it and monitor it – Our six demands cover all this.

He concludes ‘Freedom is not Free’ and we will ALL have to do our bit or nothing will happen.

Finally when reading the book, which I recommend, you need to register that our fight is not with a dictator but with our politicians to accept, approve and enact our six demands to reform our system of governance.    

Saturday, 16 March 2019

People power.

It has occurred to to me today as I sat munching my bowl of cereal that if THA's type democracy was in place as set out in our six demands there would be no need for the likes of Tommy Robinson or populists in general as the voice of the majority could not be ignored and they would have the power to demand action from their goverment and politicians. 

Friday, 15 March 2019

The arrogance of our politcal class.

Every day there are examples, especially with the chaos over Brexit, of how out of touch,arrogant, incompetent and untouchable our politicians are.

Yesterday provided a CLASSIC example when Lord David Steel admitted that he knew about the crimes of Cyril Smith but did nothing and then added that, under similar circumstances, he would do exactly the same again.

Only our six demands can give us the power to hold such contemptible politicans to account.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

The British Constitution - Part Two

I have now finished Martin Loughin's very good little book from the 'A very short introduction' series, on The British Constitution.

In summary he concludes that our constitution and government are like an old building that has constantly been adapted, repaired and renovated over the centuries in different styles and that we are now left, IMO, in the unsatisfactory position of increasing having the judiciary interpreting what our constitution means and how it should work. He also believes that renovating it to make it fit for contemporary use requires architects possessed with real vision but he offers no ideas as to how this might happen or look.

 So let me summaries in my own way getting back to basics.

At the beginning of time man was sovereign in his own cave but gradually individuals became communities that grew into regions that eventually became countries like Britain that were ruled by a sovereign monarch with absolute power. However from 1215 on parliament gradually increased its powers leading the Earl of Shaftesbury to declare in 1689, "The Parliament of England is that supreme and absolute power, which gives life and motion to the English government".  Then the Act of Settlement of 1700 removed royal power over the judiciary and defined a vote of both houses as the sole method of removing a judge.

Then as the years advanced parliament’s powers grew and in 1771 Delolme, who wrote ‘The Constitution of England’, made a ‘grotesque’ expression which became proverbial "parliament can do everything but make a woman a man and a man a woman".

Coming right up to date it would appear, with the increasing attention being paid by parliament to trans-gender issues, that Delome’s observations may no longer be true and as we have seen over the whole Brexit debacle parliament is a law unto itself in which the opinion of the people hardly matter.

Therefore over the last 800 years we have moved from the absolute power of a monarch to the absolute power of our parliament and it is us the people that are being short changed. They only brief power we have is at General Elections but as we know that changes very little and, whichever party gets in, it’s a case of ‘same meat different gravy’!

In conclusion we need to reverse things and go back to our roots where sovereignty returns to the people. Currently there is no better plan that I've seen than our six demands and in particular the introduction of a codified constitution to set out the new relationship between the people and parliament. This relationship needs to be based on the basic principle that we the people are sovereign and encompassing many aspects of Direct Democracy albeit tailor made to suit own our unique history and traditions.


Monday, 4 March 2019

The British Constitution - Part One.

I'm reading 'The British Constitution' by Martin Loughlin which is one of the books from the  ' A Very Short Introduction' series.

In the introduction I was struck by the fact that constitutional reform has been on the agenda for many years but apart from some tinkering at the edges nothing significant has changed.

Indeed Lord Halisham's celebrated 1976 Dimbleby Lecture was on Elective Dictatorship. In it he noted the paradox that government had never before possessed so much power and commanded so little respect, he noted that there was scarcely an institution of government nowadays that does not come in for serious criticism - that was then so what about now!  

Hailsham believed this was because these institutions were no longer performing their constitutional role of providing an implicit balancing mechanism. The monarchy had been reduced to an entirely ceremonial function, the H of Ls no longer acted as a restraining influence, and political conduct in general seemed to be dictate by party political interests rather than any sense of appropriate behaviour on the part of officeholder - Amen to that last point!

He went on that customary constitutional restraints were no longer working, leading to a loss of trust. More broadly, the traditions of civility from which these constitutional values grew were losing authority. The only solution, as Hailsham concluded, was to devise an entirely new constitution. Like all new constitutions, this would be written down and defined in law.

And all this delivered by a man that was as far removed from being a radical as one might find and as I've already said above 'that was then so what about now!'

What then happened was that with Thatcher gaining power, in 1979, the Conservatives lost interest in constitutional reform as they tackled the many other issues they faced. However the SDP did pick up the baton of constitutional reform which was then developed by 'New' Labour with their introduction of devolved governments, H of Ls reform and the introduction of the Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information. Loughlin points out that New Labour promoted a more radical set of constitutional reforms than any other government since the First WW.

Even Cameron's coalition government offered constitutional reform by holding the referendum on our voting system, which was, as far as I'm concerned, fortunately rejected.  

Loughlin concludes his introduction by pointing out these reforms were all rather makeshift but by tinkering with the rules they helped present our politicians as 'modern'. Yet incremental modernisation has merely blurred the issue. We have in some haphazard way codified many of the rules and in that sense are closer than ever to having a written constitution, but at the same time we no longer have a clear sense of the values of the public realm that this rule-system is supposed to protect and address.

When I have finished the book I will write another post commenting further and on any conclusions Martin Loughlin comes to. However, for my money the time has never been so ripe for the introduction of our six demands and in particular our sixth demand for a codified constitution, which is needed, to ensure our politicians are left in no doubt that they are our servants and not our masters. 

Monday, 25 February 2019

Being a nuisance.

I am taken by this quote, attributed to Dame Freya Stark, in connection with seeing our demands enacted:-

“One has to resign oneself to being a nuisance if one is to get anything done.”

There is no doubt in my mind that if enough people want to achieve the political reforms we are proposing, in our six demands, then they will happened especially if the ‘People’ become a nuisance! Fortunately the various and numerous levels of active peaceful protest have been well covered in Gene Sharp’s excellent little book ‘From dictatorship to democracy’ which I recommend you to read.

I also picked up on these two statistics this week which should have ramifications for our agenda and help it to progress. 68% of Britons feel there is currently no political party that represents them which is up from 61% from six months ago and less than 10% of people closely identify with any leading political figure.

Both statistics support last week’s post and prove how disconnected our politicians are from the people they serve.

However the main point about these statistics is that when the ‘People’ are recognised as sovereign the importance of political parties will become less as at any given time the ‘People’ will have the ‘Power’ to hold the government and politicians to account. The impact of this would be that exposed directly to the people they serve the Westminster bubble would be permanently pricked with parties and politicians being more responsive to our basic needs and concerns thus preventing them indulging in in their own naval gazing illiberal elitists fantasies.

The need for our Agenda has never been so relevant to the situation we face with the collective incompetence at Westminster and all we have to do is to get organised and unite and tell our politicians what we want. There is of course one major hurdle to overcome and that is to get the word out there that “ There is a better way.”

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Government disconnect.

I've just finished reading an interesting book called ‘Politics’ by David Runciman which has introduced me to the thoughts and works of Thomas Hobbes whose most famous work, Leviathan, was written in 1651. This book is probably the greatest work of political philosophy in the English language, according to the author.

Amongst other things Hobbes believed in three things. First, politics had to prove its usefulness to us the people. Second, personal fulfilment required political protection but not political interference and third, politics has to be founded on an agreement between individuals and their representatives or put another way decision makers won’t carry the people with them if they don’t speak for them.

Remember this was written in 1651 but is as true today as we can clearly see over Brexit, and much more besides, as our elected representatives have clearly lost sight of the views and opinions of those they serve. This has slowly developed over time as, apart from General Elections, our MPs have little to fear from the electorate and have increasingly become more and more distant and disconnected form the people they serve and the rot is now so ingrained that things will only change with fundamental political reform as advocated by our agenda. The most important ingredient is of course that the 'People' are recognised as sovereign instead of Parliament giving them the ultimate POWER over their elected representatives given certain conditions and critera are met. 

I could wax lyrical about our preening  celebrity minded politicians who increasingly, in both parties, come from the same draw and those who don’t soon adopted the same high handed elitist attitude. However, suffice to say it is increasingly obvious that they are disconnected from the concerns, wishes and desires of us ordinary folk.