Wednesday 28 March 2018

The power of cooperation.

Having read Sapiens, a brief history of humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari I felt I should read the sequel Homo Deus, a brief history of tomorrow.

In chapter three of Homo Deus, titled ‘The human spark’, he recaps on the successes of Sapiens over other mammals pointing out how cooperation is our key to success and that it is only humans that are flexible enough to cooperate with countless numbers of strangers.

He then goes on to explain under the subheading ‘Long Live the Revolution’:-

“History provides ample evidence for the crucial importance of large scale cooperation. Victory almost invariably went to those who cooperated better – not only in struggles between Homo Sapiens and other animals, but also in conflicts between different human groups. Thus Rome conquered Greece not because the Romans had larger brains or better toolmaking techniques, but because they were able to cooperate more effectively.

Throughout history, disciplined armies easily routed disorganised hordes and unified elites dominated the disorderly masses. In 1914, for example, 3 million Russian noblemen, officials and business people lorded it over 180 million peasants and worker. The Russian elite knew how to cooperate in defence of its common interests, whereas the 180 million commoners were incapable of effective mobilization. Indeed, much of the elites’ efforts focused on ensuring that 180 million people at the bottom never learned to cooperate.

In order to mount a revolution, numbers are never enough. Revolutions are usually made by small networks of agitators rather than by the masses. If you want to launch a revolution, don’t ask yourself, ‘How many people support my ideas?’ Instead ask yourself, ‘How many of my supporters are capable of effective collaboration?’ The Russian Revolution finally erupted not when 180 million peasants rose against the tsar, but rather when a handful of communists placed themselves at the right place at the right time. In 1917, at a time when the Russian upper and middle classes numbered at least 3 million people, the Communist Party had only 23,000 members. The communists nevertheless gained control of the vast Russian Empire because they organised themselves well. When authority in Russia slipped from the decrepit hands of the tsar and equally shaky hands of Kerensky’s provisional government, the communists seized it with alacrity, gripping the reins of power like a bulldog locking its jaws on a bone.'

In his great little book ' From Dictatorship to Democracy' Gene Sharp describes the many ways to cooperate to bring down a dictator. However, bad as our system of governance has become we are not yet a dictatorship and so gulvanising the public to see the need to cooperate in order to improve our governance is still not at the forefront of their minds. As things get worse this will change. 

As far as the promotion of our Agenda is concerned there is no doubt we are progressing in the right direction, given we were only formed in 2012. However, our future success and ultimate triumph will be determined by the cooperation of a network of likeminded groups with the zeal and determination to force our politicians that they must adopt and support our six demands or lose their seats to those that do.    

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.