Tuesday 25 May 2021

Why is reform of our governance still not on the agenda?

I have encountered the above questions on a number of occasions, since our foundation in 2012, and while the simple answer is that ‘Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas’ there are three more serious considerations to make.

First, after reading ‘Chartism a New History’ by Malcolm Chase, I learnt that political change is a slow process and that five demands of the Chartists, relatively simple, six took between 20 and 73 years to become enacted. Their demand for annual general elections never materialised. These changes while taking time came about because the ‘People’ got behind them and wouldn’t give up until politicians adopted them as their own and made them law. One of the five was enacted by a Conservative government and the other four by the old Liberal party.   

Second, I’ve realised that the majority of the people are still too comfortable as they go about their daily lives earning a living and looking after their families. The reality is for the most part life in general improves for most of us every year. So, for the time being the last thing on peoples’ minds is the issue of reform of our governance, while accepting that many aren’t happy as they don’t even bother to vote anymore.

 There are of course, as there always have been, groups of minority activists but the majority of people still cannot be bothered. However, could all that be about to change as we face three potentially major disruptions to our lives. The first is the economic hit from the impacts of the Covid lockdowns. Second, is the fallout from our inadequate TCA with the EU 27 and third the anticipated world cyclical economic down turn?

 My third observation is that history shows us that our politicians never volunteer to give up their privileges or power. They don’t wake up one day and say :-

 ‘I’ve suddenly realised that the way I control and dominate others is wrong. I must change my ways. So, I’ll initiate a variety of changes to our governance to give the people more power over their lives.’

 That is NEVER going to happen and history is full of examples how power has to be wrestled from those who have it.

So, while we endeavour to keep the pilot light of The Harrogate Agenda alight, we await the people waking up and demanding the changes we have set out.

Our pamphlet had this to say in its conclusion:-

"Furthermore, we the people have the right to demand a Parliament which truly represents our interests and does what it is told. Parliamentary representation, we feel, is compatible with THA. But we do not see the function of Parliament as being to provide a distressingly shallow gene pool from which ministers are recruited. The antidote to the contempt with which politicians are regarded is for Parliament to do its job as the protector of the people, rather than the supporter of governments and the provider of its management personnel.

Its main task should be preparing legislation for public approval. the scrutiny of government, and then the representation of the people to government. For that to happen, the institution has to attract the right people and be properly structured. As long as its main function is to provide ambitious politicians with the means to enter government, it can never properly perform those duties." 

As I’ve ended my weekly posts before – ‘The future is in the Peoples’ hands and if they continue to sit on them things won’t change’.

Monday 17 May 2021

"Government of the people, by the people and for the people."

 One of the key issues, with our current political system, is that the views of the public at large are being ignored by our politicians, that is assuming they are even aware of what they are? 

We have all heard MPs say how they are kept in touch with the 'man in the street' by their constituency surgeries but in reality, they only get to meet a vocal minority with specific problems, while the views of the vast majority are seldom brought or get to their attention. It could not be clearer, over recent years, that our politicians seldom if ever speak for the ‘people’.

The problems start with the need, for anyone considering a career in politics, to join a party and become part of the ‘tribe’ and accept their mantras for without the support of a party machine the chances of getting elected as an independent are very slim. Adopting the ‘party-line’, from the start of a political career, means fresh ideas are not getting into the political arena which does of course presume that prospective candidates have any in the first place! 

However, even if a new politician does have strong opinion on say Climate Change, and is a climate realist against the current orthodoxy, he or she would have to suppress their views for fear of jeopardise their advance in their party. As Bernard Shaw said: ‘He knows nothing; he thinks he knows everything – that clearly points to a political career!’

At the moment our governments and politicians, in general, pander to the last minority pressure group to sit on them. For far too long the tail has been wagging the dog.

So, our current system of governance will only be reformed when our politicians have to seriously consider and act on the views of the majority which is what our six demands set out to do. Our first demand requires that the people's inherent sovereignty is recognised and from this the other demands flow. 

Demand two, ‘Real Local Democracy’, gets decision much closer to the people and would allow constituents to agree the level of pay of their MPs and set up a procedure for recall between elections if they so desired. Demand three, ‘Separation of Powers’, would enable the whole of Parliament to keep the executive in check as well as the position of Prime Minister being elected by the people.

Demands four and five giving the people real power to reject the government’s proposed legislation, and annual taxation requirements in the budget as well as recommend proposals for new legislation. Finally demand six pulls everything together in a new codified constitution.

So, when enacted, the six demands of The Harrogate Agenda would radically reform our current system of governance with the key being that the views of the majority can no longer be ignored. Our Agenda  allows the views of the people to puncture the Westminster bubble and bring fresh ideas into the system.

After THA reforms are in place it would be appropriate to quote Abraham Lincoln, from his Gettysbery Address:-

"The nation, shall have a new birth of freedom,and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

“ Let the people decide!”

There is a big difference between a referendum set by a government and one demanded by the people. The first, is usually to dig the government our of a hole or to benefit themselves as opposed to the people they serve. The second, has the people going over the heads of the government to get a decision to an issue that the government is failing to address.

The other day my attention was drawn to a paper on holding referendums produced in 2020 by ‘The European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission)’. This was a revised version of an earlier paper produced in 2006.

Although containing nothing one would not expect in a document associated with any Western democracy, its benefit is that it does set down what are ‘good practices’ for holding a referendum.  Thus, it provides a good measure from which the public can gauge whether any referendum has been fair and of course provides the basis for any legal challenge if the standards set out have not been met.

THA’s fourth demand ‘The People’s Consent’ lays out three possible uses for referenda which the people can use. The reason these powers don’t exist now is because our governments, who may ‘talk a good talk’ about democracy are actually more inclined to the principles of ‘Epistocracy’. In simple language this means that our political master know best what is good for us and the last thing they want is for us to hold and exert too much power.

All governments have to hold periodic elections but after campaigns, usually built on exaggeration and far too often actual promises they cannot keep, or lies, they then pay lip service to our views and desires once they have won.  Nothing displays the governments contempt for our views more that the elections this month of various Mayors around the country a position overwhelmingly rejected by the people when asked in a referenda if they wanted one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_English_mayoral_referendums . This affront to our democracy is that much worse because these positions are constitutional changes and to impose them on us without consent is completely unacceptable.

The other day on Dr North’s blog ‘Turbulent Times’ I was debating the issue of the people’s input into policy areas, under a sub-thread about rights or wrongs about giving 16 year-olds the vote, and the point was made, by another commentator, that issues are often too complex for the public to be able to give an informed opinion.  

This is a view with which I fundamentally disagree as I believe, on all the basic policy issues that governments deal with, the views of the people are every bit as valid as those of politicians or indeed experts. This is not to say that the people would be able to answer for all the detail behind a piece of legislation but that is why we elect governments. However, I cannot think of any general policy issue involving any of the Departments of State where the public’s views would not be valid.

Our referendum on our membership of the EU is a case in point. The question was simply whether we wanted to stay or leave the EU and on that the public’s view is as valid as anyone else’s. However, what sort of trade deal we then expected to have with the EU 27, after we had left, would clearly be a decision the people would expect the government of the day to negotiate. This is largely the reason why Johnson has broken the ‘Red Wall’, despite being a lair, lazy, incompetent and corrupt, because he said he would ‘Get Brexit Done’ and he did. That the TCA he is responsible for will adversely impact on trade for years to come has yet to register with the voters and thus as yet harm the PM.

In conclusion, a key point about giving more power to the people, by restoring their inherent sovereignty, is that they will have to face the consequences of their decisions. At the moment our politicians make endless decisions, often bad and ill-thought-out or designed to benefit themselves, and seldom if ever have to suffer the consequences of their incompetence.

In 1997 the Referendum Party slogan was “Let the People Decide” and that was as apt then as it is now on all government’s policy issues that impact on our lives.             

Thursday 6 May 2021

Who are the ‘Bed Blockers’ to political reform?

The answer is the liberal elite, who have infected and now dominate our politics, civil service, police, military, show business and the rest of the ‘Establishment’. They have held sway for some time and are assisted and supported by the likes of the corrupt and bias BBC and other media sources. The common denominator they all share is the belief in the virtues of ‘Liberalism’.

Let me be very clear, before I go any further, that I accept some liberal initiatives have been good for society but the consequences of far too many have been damaging and the irony is that in continuing to support and promote a liberal agenda these elites are increasingly Liberal In Name Only (LINO).

The word ‘liberal’ comes from the Latin word ‘liber’ meaning free. Freedom lies at the heart of liberalism: freedom to do as you want based on the belief, now proven false, that we are born good and corrupted by society hence the increasingly soft nature of our justice and penal system due to the belief that criminals are corrupted by society.

Another key aspect which LINOs push is to be free of the past and our traditions which can stand in the way of their relentless drive for ‘progress’. This is now self-evident in the campaigns against historic figures and their statues.

The trouble is LINOs extend freedom to their own advantage but their general ‘free for all’ seriously disadvantages the rest of us and especially the poor. LINOs seldom if ever have to face the consequences of their liberal policies.  

These LINOs are also the type who support the principles of Epistocracy over Democracy and are totally against allowing the people to have any more say in the way they are governed. Brexit of course was a total shock to LINOs, as they had expected to win, so I would think they would now be more determined than ever to ignore any political reform, that curbed their influence and power, by giving greater power to the people by a recognition of their inherent sovereignty.

Another strange but revealing aspect of LINOs, over the years and especially in the past, is their reluctance to condemn communism, which has been responsible for over 100 million deaths, yet always turn their fire on Hitler’s Fascism and are all too ready to label anyone that disagrees with their liberal point of view as Right-Wing Fascists. Again, the irony is that while most if not all LINOs would be opposed to capital punishment, they generally have not condemned the endless purges and executions in the USSR. Likewise, they were critical and publicised the Bengal famine in India that killed 3 million while ignoring or concealing a similar number of deaths due to a famine, 10 years earlier, in Ukraine. 

So, these brief examples typify the thinking of LINOs who hold so much influence and power over us and are not readily going to give up either. If you want to find out more as to how and why Liberalism has impacted on our lives, I highly recommend the book by John Marsh called ‘The Liberal Delusion’.

In conclusion there is only one solution to this predicament which is to go over the heads of the LINOs and appeal directly to the people even though we have to accept that currently they are understandably preoccupied with keeping their jobs and their families safe.

The people, when given a chance, spoke over Brexit and they will do so again and when they do the damaging impact of LINO’s liberal convictions and philosophy will be challenged.

As I’ve said before the future is in the people’s hands.