Monday, July 23, 2007

State of the nation

Young Wayne over on Central News does a sterling job keeping tabs on the various nonsense from our various councils up and down the country as well as on the slightly more sinister aspects of our own government.

One of his recent posts about the ongoing dismantling of our parliamentary democracy got me commenting - and as comments go, I was pretty pleased with it, so I thought I'd inflict the gist of it on the readers of Ranting Stan!

Basically, it comes back to the House of Lords and the plans to make this an all elected chamber - something which I am hugely opposed to. There are a few reasons for this - not least because I have little trust in people who are involved in mainstream party politics to put the needs of the country above the wants of their party.

I know a lot of people like to think of the Lords as a bunch of freeloading posh gits who've never done a days work in their lives. I don't doubt that this may apply to some - or even many - of them, but to me they strike me as remarkably able and dedicated people who have a genuine love and interest in this nation of ours, it's history, tradition and values. Something which I do not believe can be said of the MP's who strike me as being mostly guided by self-interest and ideology.

Even so, most people seem to think having a directly elected House of Lords (or whatever name they call it) would be a good thing. This is because they equate "elected" with "democracy".

What so many fail to realise is that the only thing that prevents a democratic government becoming totalitarian is the rule of law. The single most important aspect of which is the prevention of government - however it came to power - from exercising arbitrary power.

We've already seen this government introduce measures which undermine that - such as indiscriminate use of the Parliament Act to force through unimportant and largely token legislation and the outrageously undemocratic Civil Contingencies Bill.

Their "reform" of the Lords to make it more "democratic" will only ensure that the Lords will become nothing more than a rubber stamp and the last bulwark FOR democracy against a plebiscitarian dictatorship will be gone.

Now some will argue that even though the USA has an elected second chamber, it does not show any signs of becoming totalitarian (some would say it already is, but they are mad people). This is because the USA has a written constitution which prevents that from happening - although, in theory, that Constitution could be amended and the checks and balances removed. Britain does not have a formal constitution and little consideration is given to that which is written anyway.

What can not be denied about the US system though, is that it can leave the government either too powerful if both houses are dominated by one party or becoming moribund when one party dominates the Senate and the other Congress. Neither is a good situation to have.

This is the most serious constitutional discussion we've had in Britain since the Civil War and our idiot press ignore it - preferring to witter on about Jade Goody's tits or David Beckham's tattoos.

What a state!


Henry North London said...

Britain is merely following the already fascist states of Australia and New Zealand. Big tip for today Do not think that civil liberties there are any better than here it is a big misconception that could land you in a lot of trouble.

Stan said...

I'm not particularly familiar with the parliamentary workings of Australia or New Zealand, Henry - I understand they operate bicameral parliaments which are based on ours (as most of the Anglosphere is), but I don't really take much notice of what they do.

I'm really more concerned about ours. It's apparent to me that Britain has become less democratic since I first voted in 1979 - and there are a number of reasons for this in my opinion.

If anything, Britain is following the route that Hayek tried to warn us about in his book - The Road To Serfdom. A good example of that can be found on Central News where Wayne points out that a restaurant owner who wanted to call his Chinese restaurant "Fat Buddha" was told by a local council official that this was not allowed.

When council workers can dictate what you can and can not call your own business then you know you're well on the way to totalitarianism.

As Hayek said "Who can seriously doubt that the power which a millionaire has over me is very much less than that which the smallest bureaucrat possesses on whose discretion it depends how I am allowed to live and work?”

Henry North London said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly Stan and I am not far from emigrating in the very near future.

Stan said...

Where are you off to then, Henry?

Henry North London said...

Scandinavia or France all depending on what I could take with me.

At the present moment I would say that Scandinavia is the best bet as France operates roman law and you are guilty until proven innocent there.

You only have to look at what Australia has done to someone who mistakenly left their sim card with someone in the UK instead of cutting it up to see that I would not touch that country with a bargepole.

Indeed Stan they have double jeopardy days when they add 6 points to your driving licence if they catch you without using your safety belt in your car on a weekend.

Any kind of government that tries to catch its people out in that way is no democracy.