Thursday, 17 June 2021

Where does power actually lie?

 Professional lobbying organisations are in no doubt ‘Power’ resides in Westminster which is why they concentrate all their effort, time and money there. People who lobby parliament include businesses, charities, pressure groups, trade unions and representatives of various sectors of industry. What lobby groups also know is that courting the public is not necessary to influence politicians.

The reason for this is that the Westminster parliament is sovereign with all power emanating from it. As a result, the UK is almost unique in not having a codified constitution with entrenched provisions. Parliament can enact legislation on any subject matter it likes, but it cannot bind its successors.  

We, the people, are left out of the decision-making process except at election time when we get to decide and vote on the party we want. Apart from our past allegiances we only have the party manifestos to help us decide who to support. But increasingly they are not worth the paper they are written on as governments produce policies and laws mostly by reacting to events as they occur. Our current Covid situation being a classic example.

On the other hand, political movements campaigning for political change know only too well that to be effective they need to get the support of the public at large. There are a number of political organisations and movements that over the years have grown up to fight for specific causes like those associated with leaving the EU being a prime example. These include groups like the Campaign for an Independent Britain, the Bruges Group, The Freedom Association and the Democracy Movement.

They certainly all played their part in keeping our membership of the EU near the top of the political agenda and of course UKIP, as a political party, was also born. The combination of Eurosceptic movements and a political party certainly forced Cameron into offering us a referendum. The point though to stress is that it was the support of millions of ordinary ‘People’ that forced our politicians to listen and act as they proved in a number of UK and Euro elections that they were a force to be reckoned with.

As Brexit has happened the issue that needs to be addressed is how do the people continue to exercise control over our politicians and parliament and indeed even stop them from reversing the 2016 referendum result should they decide to do so? There is no simple answer apart from the long-term reform to our system of governance that would ensure the people have to be consulted before such a decision could be made.  What this means in practice is that sovereignty has to be returned to the people making our politicians our servants instead of our masters.

Sovereignty belongs to the people and while they still elect governments to govern it is their inherent right that ultimate power resides with them and not parliament. However, be under no illusion that our politicians are not going to give up power without a fight.   

So, this issue should now be at the forefront of all individuals and movements, that campaigned for us to leave the EU, as there was little point in freeing us from the dictates of Brussels to still find yourselves beholden to our own politicians.

The millions of individuals involved, over the years, in fighting to leave the EU should be natural bedfellows to support our six demands which clearly sets out the mechanisms that would prevent us being bypassed should we wish to have our say.

The reform of our system of governance, in line with our six demands, should appeal to all true democrats because without our reforms we will remain at the mercy of our politicians in Westminster who regularly display just how out of touch they are with majority opinion. 

Whatever else your political ambitions if you believe in ‘real’ democracy you should support our agenda and help promote its value in achieving government ‘Of the People, By the People, For the People’.

 

 

 

  

Thursday, 10 June 2021

The dog and his tail.

The other day I posted a comment on the blog ‘Turbulent Times’ co-authored by Dr Richard North (who drafted THA pamphlet) and his son Pete, about why we needed the radical reforms to our governance as offered by our six demands. One respondent wrote that he could not support THA as it would lead to the ‘Tyranny of the Majority’ to which I replied the ‘Tyranny of the Minority’ is worse and in the long run unstainable.

 For too long, as I’m in the habit of saying, the minority tail has been wagging the majority dog and the time is long overdue for the dog to reclaim his tail and wag it as and when he chooses!

For democracy to be sustainable and true to its origins, coming from the Greek demos “people” and Kratos “power”, it has to see power invested in the people with the views of the majority taking precedent but with due consideration for minorities. Let me be quite clear about that last point in that minorities need to be protected as necessary, as any civilized society would do, but the general views and opinions and demands of the majority are what should set the direction of travel for our country.

Every day there are examples of utterances from public figures which clearly indicate to me that they are completely out of touch with majority thinking and I wonder for how much longer the ‘People’ are going to tolerate this?

To take just three examples over the last couple of days. First, the Bishop of St Davids, Dr Joanna Penberthy, tweeted derogatory comments about the Conservative party saying in one how she was appalled and ashamed of any one who support them. I wonder what the Conservatives in her congregation, if she still has one, think about that?

Second, is the continuing saga of the ‘sacking’ of the cricketer Ollie Robinson for some ‘sexist’ tweets he sent when he was 18 which raises the question as to how many cricket fans, both male and female, share the view that what he said, eight years ago, should lead to his dismissal?

Third, are the stories behind the English football team taking the knee before matches. Some fans have already booed their opinion of this action and I wonder what the public at large feel about this but of course they don’t get to have a say.

Neither of those three examples are incidences where the public is likely to raise a referendum under our fourth demand ‘The People’s Consent’ but they are indicative of how far removed the views of our ‘Establishment’ are from the ‘People’.

Finally let’s consider an example where the public might well want to have their say. This concerns Colin Pitchfork, who raped and murdered two young girls and admitted other sex attacks, who could be released shortly after serving 33 years of his life sentence.

On this I would remind you that the debate in the 1960’s to end capital punishment was not clear cut and many judges, prosecutors and police opposed the abolition as they believed it acted as a strong deterrent. To allay the public’s fear, it was readily understood that a life sentence would mean life.

The public, whenever asked, still favours the reintroduction of the death penalty, for certain crimes, and I’m convinced that there would be certainly be an overwhelming majority supporting the position that life imprisonment should mean life. That the current parole system can ignore public opinion in their deliberations clearly shows the contempt they have for us and worst of all there is no accountability when their decisions go radically wrong as they did over Usman Khan the 28 year old British national, a convicted terrorist, who killed two people after his release from prison.

 In conclusion I believe the time is long overdue to give the general public the mechanisms to be heard which is of course the primary aim of our six demands especially the fourth ‘The People’s Consent’. After all the current official system of raising 'Petitions', is just a sop, which the government can ignore as they have recently done over the petition to 'Leave the 1951 Refugee Conventionand 1967 Protocol & revoke the Immigration Act'.

I strongly believe that it is essential for our democracy that the inherent sovereignty of the people is fully recognised and their views have a formal outlet so that the government is unable to ignore. In this way the dog once again will be able to wag its own tail.