Friday, November 06, 2009

On democracy in Britain

Following the Czech ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, there's excitement over the widened split in the Conservative Party and the possibility of forming a new party or coalition to wrest power from the professional political elite and restore democracy to the people.

I believe this is completely mistaken.

You will find:

(a) the tremendous power of apathy (look how Karl Denninger has gone from making a personal fortune in equities to crying uselessly on the blogwaves about politics);
(b) when (if) you have split a log, it can be split further, until there is nothing but kindling and splinters.

We do not have democracy in this country, as the ancient Athenians understood the term. We have "representative" democracy, which ultimately reduces the population to two classes:

(i) practitioners
(ii) petitioners

The most we can hope for is to influence one of the two great power factions that take turns to rule us. As David Cameron and co. now feel their vulnerability, our maximum influence lies in the threat to his potential vote. By looking as though we may indeed shatter his support into a hundred pieces and so end with a hung Parliament or even another Labour government, we can make him listen, instead of pretending to listen.

But it has to be a simple, single demand, with the promise that the fragments will gather around it. I would suggest simply, a referendum on EU membership per se, "in or out", and purely on the issue of democratic legitimisation.

The arguments pro and con can come later; in fact, must come later: if you hear bletherskites like Ken Clarke (he so reminds me of ex-Bishop David Jenkins), they're always trying to confuse the referendum with the benefits of EU membership, so as to prevent you from asking for the vote.

Going for the split now uses the weapon without uttering the threat, and will be uselessly destructive.


Nick Drew said...

wise post - & concise, too !

base political calculation: my gut feeling is that Cameron is secure, & that Hannan is just playing the traditional, careerist, 'ultra' card

(Denninger is a worry, isn't he ?)

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Sensible stuff, but I thought that was just what we are doing. There is one demand - we want the referendum we were promised.

The promise has been broken, so we won't vote for him.

Isn't that simple enough? I really do not see what the alternative is that you are proposing.

(Aside - there are no longer "two great power factions that take turns to rule us". From 1st December, there is only one - the EU commission. And we can't influence that at all. We didn't elect it (nobody did), and we can't remove it.)

Sackerson said...

Nick - what if the Labour Party committed itself to the full-blooded referendum, as THE key manifesto undertaking?

WY: I still say, THREATEN to work 100% for a split and maximise the damage. No point saying huffily "shan't vote for you now" - then there's nothing to bargain with.

Your last para - quite. But that's to consider when deciding which way to vote in the referendum. I think pro-democracy campaigners should bite their tongues on that issue and keep saying, with sweet reasonableness, "All we are asking for is the nation's right to decide, and when the decision is made, we will abide by the result and make it work as well as we can, whichever way it goes." Going into the pros and cons of EU membership at this stage plays into the hands of the obfuscators.

Sackerson said...

P.S. "we want the referendum we were promised" - I don't; I want the real thing, the big decision - biggest in centuries: "Are we getting married, or not?"

James Higham said...

There are a few of us actively looking at a coalition of the anti-totalitarian forces mooted here. It's live and it's happening in different places in the UK. Cameron's in trouble.

Sackerson said...

James: the thrust of my article is that you should exploit your nuisance value to put leverage on Cameron. Otherwise it'll be no more than Limehouse.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sackers and the French position.

We are in the worst possible position on the EU because we must simply decide if we want to be in or out. For the last 30 years we have been dragged along behind a European project where even the Irish have had more influence due to their more pro-EU stance.

Personally I want out, but if we do vote to be in then we must REALLY be in - get rid of the £, get rid of our borders, get the media to report on the EU, and get rid of the notion of "Britain". Getting dragged behind like this is pathetic.

hatfield girl said...

I thought we were supposed to be there wrecking Germany's recovery and wrecking the EU's aims in general as a US front - a la de Gaulle's fears. Only we haven't been very good at it.

America's reneging on the Opel deal looks a bit like a smack on Merkel's handy for not supporting the UK's Presidente though, so perhaps the General had a point.

Sackerson said...

Wheels within wheels, HG - I don't have your contacts or PPE background so don't feel qualified to take this further. Just hoping we can grab the end of the democratic ladder before it's out of reach.