Monday, 16 May 2022

Local democracy is a sham.

This article is by the Editorial  Chairman and co-founder of 'The Week' Jeremy O'Grady.

Rumour has it that the local elections were held across much of the country last week, but if so I missed them. 

I knew there were elections of course they just didn't feel like local ones: they were everywhere treated as a verdict on Westminster politics.

Would Johnson be punished for Partygate?

Would Starmer make headway?

No talk of the distinctive policies made by this or that council; no focus on Aspires remarkable triumph in Tower Hamlets. Yet how else could it be?

So nationalised, so beholden to decisions  made in Westminster/Whitehall has our politics grown, that local goernment is now a cipher.  And does that matter?

In all sorts of ways I think it does, though one example will have to suffice: the selection of academy trusts to run local schools. The Department for Education  is currently pushing for one such trust to take over the school my child attends (Holland Park in London).That could involve it forming a trust with a highly regarded school nearby, the option desired by the local council and many parents.

The other option, favoured by the DfE, is for it to join a big national trust: far easier to deal with. So the DfE has quietly appointed to the school a clutch of compliant governors (none from the locality) who've duly rubber- stamped its wishes. And as local government has no say in the matter, and there's no other legitimised way of registering local preference, anyone protesting their decision is easily dismissed as vexatious. The idea of local representation was once seen as a fundamental plank of democracy, In Britain, that plank has rotted.

Our second demand 'Real Local Democracy' addresses this issue and makes local democracy count again by decentralising power down to the counties and districts and thus reducing the size of central government.


Saturday, 7 May 2022

The People's Way.

 The break in weekly posts has been caused by having to deal with my ailing 96 year old mother and some preparatory work on a THA event, to be held towards the end of the year in London to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. An announcement will be made next week on Turbulent Times. 

In the meantime with the local elections at the forefront of my mind I had this thought as to why we need our six demands:-

"There should not be a Left or a Right way in politics only the 'People's Way."

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Democracy is dead - long live democracy!

This article by Iain Davis is long but really worth a read and gives his thoughs on the use of sortition to give us the real democracy we have never had.

I highly recommend it.


Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Recently on Dr North’s blog ‘Turbulent Times’, on which his coverage of the Ukraine war has been second to none, I have often posted the comment, over the last few weeks, that Putin’s mind and soul have been corrupted by 20 years in power.

Then yesterday I replied to a Tweet, on the corruption at the heart of the SNP in Scotland, as it occurred to me that after 15 years in power the same could be said for the SNP government.

It is with very good reason that American Presidents only serve a maximum of two four-year terms. This precedent was set by George Washington who feared that if he died in office America would view the presidency as a life time appointment. So instead, he stood down from power, after eight years, setting the standard. It wasn’t until 1951 that the Constitution was actually amended to make this official.

There is no technical reason why our own PM cannot serve for as long as their party and the House of Commons gives them their confidence. Even though that is the case no PM since 1902 has served for more than 11 years, which Mrs Thatcher did, and many would argue power had gone to her head towards the end.

There is that classic line in a Spitting Image show when Mrs Thatcher is dinning out with her cabinet and is asked by the waitress, after ordering her main course, ‘What about the vegetables’ to which she replies ‘Oh they’ll have the same as me’!

Currently the PMs we get are chosen in the main by their parties so at the last election in 2019 Johnson became PM by virtue of 25,351 votes that were cast in his constituency of Uxbridge and Ruislip with a total electorate of 70,369.

However, only 48,189 of his electors voted and Johnson’s majority of 7,210 was only marginally better than his 5,034 in 2017 which was the smallest majority of any sitting PM since 1902.

Turning to the bigger picture the Conservatives won in 2019 with 13,968,565 votes which only represented 43.6% of the 32,014,110 who voted and was even worse at only 29.34% of the total electorate of 47,587,254.

Johnson also faced little serious competition from Corbyn but the fact remains it cannot be said that he became our PM based on a majority of popular support.

In conclusion, at the time of an election, as covered in our third demand ‘A Separation of Power’ it would be far more democratic to have our PMs elected by popular vote and for a maximum of two terms thus ensuring power doesn’t go to their heads.