Democracy must change

grass snake

snake in the grass

Let the battle commence. It will have a British feel, with a veneer of politeness but there’s a lot at stake. Hopefully social justice will take precedence although that too must adapt to changing circumstances.

It’s clear that the present political system is no longer satisfying the majority of people. We are embarrassed by the lack of vision displayed by our leaders. Too often they react to create headlines, finding short-term fixes to perceived challenges to their flimsy authority. Too often they posture about the world stage, still believing that Britain is Great, and able to exert influence.

The Scottish Referendum has opened a can of worms for the Westminster establishment. It will interesting to see them squirm. Unfortunately that wriggling could prove fatal for those that believe we could create a new social order.

The first challenge will come from Scotland. Fired up by the democratic process the majority believed the existing political elite, voted No, and failed to leap into an independent black hole. Given time that may be seen as beneficial. Now the emphasis must come from Westminster. Will our politicians produce a solution that will satisfy the Scottish people? If they do how will the rest of the United Kingdom react?

The Barnett Formula has been rejected by its creator. Its machinations gives England £7,121, Scotland £8,623, Wales £8,139, Northern Ireland £9,385. Worse still East Anglia (I do object to our history being thrown away as they call us Eastern England) gets £6,144 just 83% of the English sum. As Lord Barnett says it made life easier for the politicians. Those likely to make the most fuss were given the most money. The serfs of East Anglia may complain but they rarely take decisive action, so their assets were quietly plundered.

What now? A federal state sounds attractive but England is comparatively too big. That needs to be resolved. There’s long been a north-south divide. Whether that’s a legacy of Saxons taking the north, with Angles in the south of England is debatable. It is possible to create separate regions within England. Those old divisions of Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia, Wessex, Kent and the South, with major conurbations given some autonomy could work. Although splitting cities from their hinterland will always create friction.

Rather than thinking of a geographical patchwork we could be more radical. Increasingly we all have access to rapid communication systems. Perhaps representative government is no longer necessary.

These are not new problems. Tocqueville warned against majority decisions, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both warned of the tyranny of the legislature and of the executive. Such arguments need to be adapted to our circumstances. The oppression now comes from an elected body able to ride rampant, waving their mandate, telling us all that we can remove them at the next election. In the meantime, shut up, and let us make decisions.

The odious decision to invade Iraq, on a false premiss, while over one million citizens protested on the streets of London was an example of weakness of our democratic process. Such decisions are taken every day. In many cases the electorate no longer have the heart to protest. People don’t want to vote, and the political map rarely changes colour. Once blue or red then the area stays blue or red.

That could now change. Vacuums attract and the growth of UKIP is but one example.

One scenario could see the slow demise of the Labour Party, certainly in England. Their present leader is a nice bloke, but that’s as far as it goes. They need a colossus and it’s not going to be Gordon Brown. UKIP need to grow up, and quickly. Their original slogan must now adapt. Today 44% want to stay in Europe, 36% against. The real majority suggests we should stay but renegotiate – whatever that means. Failure to recognise that determination will ensure that UKIP remains a minority party. The real answer is to get more involved in Europe, to be change-makers, rather than insipid responders. There are danger signs already as neo-fascist parties start to fill the vacuum created by the lack of effective leadership. Britain should be in the forefront.

The real weakness may be in having political parties at all. They impose the will of the minority upon the rest of us. A decision once taken in a back room in Whitehall becomes mandatory. It must succeed, despite all opposition. That’s not good decision-making. Confrontational politics are for yesterday. We can create better systems. George Washington didn’t believe in political parties, but remains the only President not to have been elected with the support of a party.

Shades of the aristocracy still rule the UK, even though our present Prime Minister is a lineal descendant of King William IV with his mistress Dorothea Jordan showing that the wrong side of the blanket can work.

We could have an aristocracy of the wise, a geniocracy, but as few people take much notice of what I say that quickly fails. We see that seizing control by power of arms or deceit can work well. One of the advantages of our present House of Lords is that it contains a number of people who have excelled in their chosen fields. Rather than allow political parties to choose we should develop that system to encourage more people to get involved, both to serve and in the selection process.

There are other systems, most relying upon the proven skill or expertise of the candidates. Our present selection process for Members of Parliament is very unsatisfactory, and needs to be changed.

We are on the cusp of change. Let battle commence. Given the lassitude of the English I fear we shall not see much change.

Ombudsman refuses action

Bloor HomesYou can’t make it up. How much money officialdom will spend avoiding questions. I posed simple questions to the Information Commissioner about the housing development at Felixstowe South seafront.

It seems to me that the Council (that’s us) should have received about £30 million from the sale of 17.6 acres of prime coastal land. Where is the money?

The Information Commissioner told me I was asking the wrong people, that I should be contacting the Local Authority Ombudsman – so I did. His analysis was that as I had asked the Information Commissioner he was not able to answer my questions! Provisional view. He outlined his arguments in a document Explanation from LA Ombudsman

I was advised by Suffolk Coastal DC and my MP to go to the Information Commissioner. Her has taken six months to tell me he is looking at my questions, but hasn’t yet started. He said go to the LA Ombudsman because they will answer your questions.

They are trying not to.

Where shall I go to next?

The history so far is contained on these web pages:

England Expects

Royal Arms of England 1198-1340

Royal Arms of England 1198-1340

Scotland face an important decision next week. Whatever they decide it will change the United Kingdom. There is discontent in the land. Westminster’s political class are seen as a bunch of liars who are not representing the populace. The one vote representational government is not sufficient to appease the masses.

Thatcher did her best to destroy the unions and to dismantle the structures built up by the Labour Party, particularly the nationalised industries. Lots of money was made as ownership was spread around the globe. Land and property are no longer owned by the inherited chinless wonders. Russian manipulators, if not crooks, sit alongside the dressed from the Middle East. In itself this brings problems, for the bedazzled elite will not understand the relationship between the Lord and the folk of the Manor. There is now fear in the land as tenants are removed for speaking out of turn, or failing to pay higher rents. When the privileged few do arrive they bring their own entourage and contribute very little to the local economy.

Kevin Cahill’s book Who Owns Britain sets out the figures pretty starkly: the UK is 60m acres in extent, and two-thirds of it is owned by 0.36% of the population, or 158,000 families. A staggering 24 million families live on the 3 million acres of the nation’s “urban plot.” Yet we encourage 250,000 new immigrants to our crowded land every year.

It’s noticeable everywhere. Our transport systems creak. Get the Underground in London, drive up the M6, and be amazed that so many people can be squeezed into so small a space. Now they call for more houses, mostly built by profiteers whose bedrooms contain a bed; nothing else. As local Councils make profit from these developers they eschew the self-builders, who can’t buy land anyway as it has been snapped up by the big boys.

It could be helped if there was an effective tax on land. You cannot own land. Occupy and use it for a term perhaps, but never own. Such taxes could change our social structure.

The Office of Fair Trading promised a survey to reveal who owned what in the UK. That promise was made during the euphoria years, and seems now to have been forgotten. The rumours suggest that we no longer own very much. Most of the utility companies, the vehicle manufacturers, the distribution networks, and banks, are foreign-owned. We know that many of the multi-nationals avoid paying UK taxes. Who gains?

Let’s assume that Scotland say Yes. Wales and Northern Ireland have been very quiet during this campaign. Surely they will also be demanding more? What of England? Have you noticed where our State-controlled businesses are now located. The tax offices are now in Wales and Scotland, sops offered as our manufacturing and mining industries were torn apart. Shall we see these returned to a local office that I can visit, and talk through my affairs?

England is about 85% of the United Kingdom. East Anglia; Cambridge, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, has about the same population as Wales, and is not far off Scotland. We could create a number of small states, federated to form a United Kingdom. That’s what Westminster politicians are offering Scotland, although they ignore the elephant in the room. England wants something out of all this.

Here’s an option. Let’s return to the old Kingdoms of Wessex and Daneland. They make a convenient ying-yang shape across England. The West and London joining with the West Midlands, and the North and East Anglia linking together with the East Midlands. Two capitals: London and Manchester. One English Parliament for the major affairs of State, with regional assemblies to take most decisions. Using the wonders of the age we could ask the ‘people’ or their opinions. They’d need training but we could have democracy.

Come the English Revolution!