Monday, 30 January 2012

The Strange Death Of Democratic England

Whilst Cameron is poncing about at the latest European Council meeting, trying to pretend to his party that his non-veto was a veto and he isn't backtracking, Conservative Home has further evidence of the sharply declining Tory party membership.

Depressing reading I'm sure it is for most Tories (except Cameron), Adrian Hilton's article is a rather apt analogy for the political process as a whole, as he lays bare the extent of decline in party membership.

Referring to Beaconsfield " the Tory Premier League historic and prestigious seat of Disraeli", he  illustrates the decline of membership by the graph above and writes:
This pattern of decline is in evidence in just about every Conservative association the length and breadth of the country. Beaconsfield can still glory in having the second-highest number of members of any association, but the fact remains that this represents a loss of almost 5000 paid-up supporters (76%) over the period I’ve been a member, and the reduction continues at the rate of about 100 a year. But more pressing even than the likelihood of extinction within a decade is that, on present rates of fund-raising and income, the association is projected this year to record its first ever financial loss. 
The flight of members then is so acute that even the 'wealthy Beaconsfield Conservative Association' is unable to cover its costs (other than by mortgaging assets). This crisis in membership therefore, argues Hilton, really ought to be a priority concern as the threat is now existential.

So what is the cause of the 'alarming rate of decline'. Well Hilton has a theory which in my view not only applies to the Tories but the entire political system:
...there was a time when being a member of the Conservative Party was an active democratic pursuit – we could freely select parliamentary candidates, propose motions for conference and even participate in debates from the floor. It was a festival of genuine political participation: we didn’t all agree, and neither did we have to pretend to: democracy is messy...

Sadly, all of these processes are now controlled by the centralised oligarchy, and members are left with the façade of engagement. Candidates are imposed, selections are rigged, and the annual conference is no longer a vibrant celebration of democracy with halls packed to standing: it is a technocratic rally to demagoguery, and a poorly-attended one at that (at least by Party members). No contentious "big issues" are discussed or debated... It is little more than window-dressing and sophistry for mass media consumption....
Replace the words 'Conservative Party' with 'Labour' or 'Lib Dems' and you wouldn't have to re-write much, if any at all, and replace with words like 'MP's' or 'government' or 'local councils' etc and the sentiments still apply - in spades.

"Little more than window dressing and sophistry for mass media consumption" summed up the 2010 election perfectly, with contentious "big issues" not being discussed nor debated as demonstrated so clearly.

As the article makes clear 'on the ground' Tories are being treated with absolute contempt, yet that is a malaise which infiltrates everywhere.
Under Cameron, the Conservative Party has become increasingly centralised, top-down and anti-democratic... why would hard-working, intelligent and highly educated [sic] Conservative Party members put up with this?
Or indeed us voters in general. The article concludes that despite Cameron's empty rhetoric of returning power...
"...from the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities. From Brussels to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy".
  Precisely the opposite has happened:
Under Cameron, the Conservative Party has become increasingly centralised, top-down and anti-democratic.
 And, more sinisterly:
But, as sure as night follows day, this will lead to the state funding of political parties. As I say, it appears almost purposeful.
Cameron's party is the perfect analogy of our current political climate; centralised and contemptuous of those it supposedly represents. Interestingly the Tory grassroots' reaction to it's party's ever increasingly anti-democratic nature has been one of apathy (my emphasis):
The vast majority seem passively content to permit their memberships to lapse, often citing (if asked) some generalised disillusionment with the lack of Tory ‘robustness’ – whether in government or opposition.

We are contending more with incremental indifference than forthright objection, and no number of polite letters or coaxing phone calls seem to persuade them to reconsider.

...members are left with an apparently unbridgeable epistemic distance between themselves and the Party Chairman, and so they fade away.
A mood reflected by the ever lower turnouts in elections, the electorate like the Tory members are retreating from a system that no longer reflects their views nor cares. But the sad truth is we simply cannot sustain a political situation where political views can no longer be expressed, in a purposeful (and peaceful) manner, indefinitely.

We live in dangerous times.

11 comments:

  1. Under Cameron, the Conservative Party has become increasingly centralised, top-down and anti-democratic... why would hard-working, intelligent and highly educated [sic] Conservative Party members put up with this?

    The instinct to obey.

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  2. Mike Spilligan30 January 2012 20:32

    I have written to my MP about such matters about twice a year for the last, say, 3 years. On the last occasion I asked him why he replied only in cliches and half-truths which were obviously straight out of the CCHQ book of standard answers - and the response was straight out of ditto ditto ditto.
    A man with no backbone who can't even think for himself.

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  3. Turnouts in elections drop off when there's perceived to be no difference between the parties or that the election can't change anything.


    The Labour Party pretty much admitted that its reason for being was invalid when they repealed Clause 4. Blair and Mandelson turned them into a marketing operation.

    What are the Tories about? It's hard to argue that they are the party of enterprise and self-reliance.

    The two main parties disagree about very little and won't discuss large areas, the EU, immigration, climate change.

    The EU sets the ground rules in which they operate and takes care of much of the work. They are completely happy with that.

    I'm sure that changes within the parties have had some effect but I'd say there are wider reasons we've seen the main parties degenerate into rival teams of managers, both happy to lie to us and both seeking to manage us in pretty much the same way.

    Who could be surprised that decreasing numbers see them as relevant or worth support? It's becoming something of a problem in that now talk of state support for political parties is being aired again. They have no genuine support so they are thinking of creating their own.

    There was something to the rival parties and elected dictatorship years ago, now things have reached stasis and we have to find a way of moving beyond it, maybe to something more like the Swiss model. I can't see how it's to be done.

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  4. Concur with Mike Spilligan. I tried exactly the same tactic with my MP (Damien Hinds). I took him to task over the Referendum vote in Parliament in October. What I got back was pure CCHQ "form of words".

    Hell, he didn't even answer my questions when I replied to him - all I got back was CCHQ gobledegook.

    If you can't even get an intelligent conversation out of one's own MP - what's the effing point!

    Right now the only party increasing its membership is UKIP

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  5. The Macaroon is an associate of the treasonous Common Purpose organisation ... hence, more of the same.
    He's a plant - put into position to destroy the Conservative Party from within.
    The Marxist Millipedes are waiting in the wings, rubbing their hands with pregnant anticipation of it all coming to plan.

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  6. People have started realising that there's no difference between left and right and that democracy is a con. The parties take turns at running the shop and following orders from Brussels.
    There's agreement amongst the political elite on the need for perpetual war, more centralisation of power, the global warming scam as a means of tax and control, more power to Brussels, more cctv/ surveillance and bailing out the banks who are the real power brokers.
    The shouting match at PMQ's and the fake animosity between the parties is for show and to make us think there's a difference.
    Don't you ever stop and think why the road is always going in the same direction irrespective of who is in power ?
    If voting made any difference it would be banned immediately.

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  7. 1-4, nice one TBF, second and smiling! Did you go?

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  8. This is just one of the results of the 'post-democratic age' we are now in (Mandelscum's words). It doesn't matter who you support or vote for, the EU governs.

    One Party which does believe in Democracy and believes we should leave the EU is UKIP. It also allows its members a voice and our membership grew by 11% in 2011.

    There's a lesson there if the CON elite were interested - but they're not.

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  9. @James Higham Indeed, vote for anything with a blue rosette on it.

    @Mike Spilligan I've had the same with my Tory MP on a number of subjects such as the EU and DLA. It just seems so pointless writing to him.

    @Cosmic You are spot on.

    @rapscallion 'What's the effing point' indeed. As you say UKIP is the only one increasing its membership, though I think it should be doing much better

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  10. @winston Yep , PMQs is a pantomime designed to try to fool us into thinking that the parties are different. Peter Oborne once wrote that it was consensus that bound the parties together not differences. In short it's 'Us and Them'

    @Anon Thanks, I did go yes - and glad I did. In truth it could have been more. Didn't get home until 2ish in the morning but it was worth it.

    @DeeDee99 Agreed

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  11. I'd say that attempting to explain most things in UK politics without bearing in mind that the EU sets the ground rules, is much like attempting to explain the actions of a marionette without considering the puppeteer.

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