Monday, 23 April 2012

Because They Can...

With local elections looming, it's becoming clear that, rather than a temporary blip, the rise in Ukip's poll ratings is a little bit more concrete. Whether that turns into actual council seats in May is something we'll have to wait and see for. What's obvious though, as England Expects notes the rise in Ukip is enough to start rattling the TPTB:
This has brought forth a small deluge of mostly hostile commentary in the press, some from commentators, others from largely Conservative politicians. The insults have flown "Swivel eyed" etc, the condescension dripped. "'UKIP were relevant 15 years ago", said George Eustice MP on Newsnight, "But now we have a robust Eurosceptic as Prime Minister they are irrelevant".
The immediate default response to a perceived threat to the cosy consensus, is not to listen, but unsurprisingly to turn the guns on the little guy even if he represents largely majority views. England Expects darkly warns:
However I am certain that this will not be the last story of its sort. Birds have told me that an edict has gone out from the coalition headquarters to friendly editors that UKIP must be hit hard. So I expect that in the next couple of weeks we will see a few more stories like this, dredged up, polished and presented to the public.
Naturally the MSM will oblige albeit with an additional bizarre and contradictory mixture of hostility, bewilderment and belated 'chin-stroking-what-does-it-all-mean' commentary, such as this from Iain Martin in Standpoint (my emphasis):
This is not just a Conservative problem. All the large mainstream British parties are in trouble and do not know how to respond to deep unpopularity, public resentment and the erosion of traditional boundaries. The Conservative response seems to consist mainly of pointing out that Labour leader Ed Miliband and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg are more unpopular than David Cameron.
This seems to be more than just a blip. Those in the Westminster village who say that the British have long mistrusted their leaders are underestimating the scale of alienation and potential for further fragmentation in a system that is so widely mistrusted. Turnout at the last general election was only 65.1 per cent; until 2001, turnouts were above 70 per cent. Britons have long moaned that voting changes nothing, but a greater number believe it true enough to not bother taking part than did even 20 years ago.
Iain Martin gets it wrong. That the 'mainstream' British parties are in trouble is true, but they do know how to respond to the problem. They are perfectly aware of the public resentment and the causes for it. Opinion polls, canvassing, letters to MPs, focus groups all tell them the details, as do comments under MSM articles. Trevor Kavanagh in today's Sun notes regarding the threat to the Tories due to Ukip (my emphasis):
UKIP will do well in the 2014 European poll, but it would be bizarre if David Cameron allows it to pinch Tory votes in the General Election.

The PM could kill the threat stone dead.

All he needs is an IN-OUT referendum on Britain’s EU membership to be held at the same time as the General Election.
Cameron's 'phantom veto' last year lead to a dramatic poll rise for the Conservatives made it perfectly clear what it takes to respond to resentment. They know. So it's utterly revealing that Cameron et al don't kill the issue stone dead. The lack of response to public anger is not ignorance by the main parties, but through choice...and crucially it's a choice for them because they can. And therein lies all that is wrong with our system of government.

Democracy is often seen as a positive process, basically you vote for a party who is more likely to be on your side, whereas in my view it's a negative process - a power to vote them out to force them to listen. To paraphrase Lincoln;
"[the] government of the people, by the people, for the people...or else"
And it's the rapidly deteriorating power to prick the consensus means that sadly I'm coming to the conclusion that our system has gone beyond reform within. While I wish Ukip good luck in the local elections, in order to win they have to play the game - where the odds are very heavily stacked against them. Even if they managed to, eventually, form a coalition or even form a government they face a very hostile establishment which will hamper them all the way. Just leaving the Lisbon Treaty alone requires 2 years of negotiations - a daunting task for any party let alone one that is inexperienced in the process of government and dealing with a pro-EU civil service. Instead I increasingly feel we need a 'cold' reboot of the system.

And it's for this reason I will be an attendee at the meeting in July for the Old Swan Manifesto. Its outcomes or influence is not yet clear. But politics like nature abhors a vacuum, with rapid disengagement from the political process we have to somehow fill that vacuum with something workable and reasonable. The consequences of the failure to do so doesn't bear thinking about.


  1. "And it's for this reason I will be an attendee at the meeting in July for the Old Swan Manifesto. Its outcomes or influence is not yet clear. But politics like nature abhors a vacuum, with rapid disengagement from the political process we have to somehow fill that vacuum with something workable and reasonable. The consequences of the failure to do so doesn't bear thinking about."

    Nice post TBF and your fears expressed in the above extract is why I too am attending. Hopefully it will result in 'knee capping' our political elite!

  2. What is basically happening is very simple: the political parties started out as ways by which the public governed themselves, and importantly the political parties were funded by their members and run from the bottom upwards.

    It all went wrong when the Labour party discovered that unions were better funding sources than individual members and the Tories discovered that big businesses were better than lots of members too. Both big parties separately discovered that a few large donors are easier to work with than a lot of small ones. It is also easier to keep fewer committed politicians happy than a vast and diverse public membership.

    Thus the rot set in; political parties haemorrhaged ordinary members and came to be made up of a much lesser number of highly unusual individuals who had wanted to be politicians all their lives, and had been in training since their teens; such individuals are not representative of the general population and tend to further distance the parties from mainstream thought and opinion.

    In America, this didn't happen because over there (unlike here) political parties are not limited in the funds they can use to campaign with. The American parties spend mindboggling sums on advertising and to raise such sums both need enormous memberships and rich donors both to raise the money needed. The downside is that the Americans have the best politicians money can buy and when one of their parties goes insane (as the Republicans seem to have done) you get a defacto one party state.

    Removing the spending limit is thus not a smart idea, so how about the idea Labour are currently proposing, to limit the amount individual donors may give?

    Despite this being suggested as a spoiling move by one of the dimmest politicians in UK politics, it is actually a sparkling gem of an idea. Implementing this would force Labour to shuck the shackles of the unions, and the Tories to cease being so beholden to big business. Both parties would face an immediate funding crisis and the important thing at this point is to deny any State funding to them.

    State funding political parties would merely perpetuate the current problem indefinitely. No, they must be permitted to land themselves in trouble for only then will they have the incentive to dig themselves out of trouble. Political parties in the UK must be forced to fund themselves through a myriad of small individual donations.

    Getting such donations will require lots of new members. New members will effectively steer the political leadership into growing a prosthetic brain and using it, whether they like it or not. It may even cull a lot of party membership and give us a large number of independent or only partially affiliated MPs, which can once again only be good for politics as these people will vote as their constituents demand.

  3. @WfW Thanks for your kind comments and agree...

  4. Neutering the bbc should, I believe, be one of the first actions of any non-liblabcon government. With them out of the way, it would be less troublesome to make the necessary changes, including a quick withdrawal from the EU, sacking of many senior civil servants, abolishing virtually all the quangoes, repealing all human rights legislation and setting in motion the expulsion of millions of unwanted and unneeded third world immigrants.

  5. BF, I agree that it's gone beyond reformation from within. I've thought for a while now that so much has their grip on power become entrenched over the past few decades, that they now truly believe that it is theirs to hang to for ever. And yet it's funny how they scream blue murder at the thought of the nobility doing the same - to the extent that they are determined to be rid of the HoL.

    It occurred to me this morning listening to R4 about Clogg's 'reform' of the HoL (i.e. marxist destruction), that what has been happening is a Republic by stealth. What these bastards want is for themselves to wear the crown - metaphorically or otherwise.

    They simply will not listen to us - the people they promised to represent. The social contract was broken a long time ago, but it's only now - as their stranglehold tightens around our throats - that we feel the danger; the gut feeling that something is deeply, horribly wrong. We simply have no option now other than to fight them.

    I can't articulate how angry I am at the corner they have forced the native English into. I want to weep for my country and my fellow countrymen; instead I will do whatever has to be done to restore order to what is still a great nation underneath the poisonous swamp TPTB have created.


  6. @JiC It's my view that the neutering of the BBC by any party is increasingly irrelevant because it's happening anyway because of technology - but I completely agree that it is a necessary act "to make the necessary changes"

    @Anon agree...

  7. @Dan Thank you - your extensive comments make very good points which I agree with. Would only add that it largely went wrong when the 'main' parties realised that they could continue to get what they wanted - and bypassing the electorate - by universally supporting the bureaucratic EU.

  8. @Dan

    I sort of agree with you that the system is broken and funding probably needs to be looked at but I don't understand why you think the republican party has "gone insane".

    It is also worth remembering that donations in US elections are to individual candidates and not the party, which brings me to the point I wanted to make.

    I think the parliamentary system became broken before the main party allegiance to unions and 'big business'.

    In fact, just referring to this as an issue relating to political parties seems to illustrate the true root of the problem. The strengthening of the party system, leading to the evil of the whipping system leading to parliament (in the sense of government, commons and Lords) being neutered by for example the parliament act (plus amendments) and the UN act, etc. rendering the government the only part of parliament with any real power. This of course leads to zero checks and balances with the subsequent disenfranchisement of the citizen.

  9. Dan said "how about the idea that Labour is now proposing ?

    Good idea, But Ah,

    Fred Smith
    F. Smith
    Smith F.
    F. A. Smith
    F. B. Smith
    F. C. Smith

    In 2012 technology should be better than Labour dimwits.

  10. @ntb

    Also, don't forget that this has been proposed by a politician.

    No politician these days would suggest something that was:-

    a. Good for the average person or
    b. reduces their power

    Ipso fatso (as they would say in the perishers)

  11. I would offer a slightly different and more optimistic perspective. Many of our democratic problems are to do with mass media. The good news is that we are now in an age of blogs, YouTube and Twitter.

    Our party system evolved before the age of mass media, when a local MP had the same power to influence his constituents as the party leader (consider that Gladstone won elections by getting out on the hustings and addressing thousands of people directly). The age of mass media made people more familiar with the guy on telly than their own local MP, so the power of the whips became absolute. If voters are going to vote blue, red or yellow, then assigning candidacy in a particular borough becomes a matter of patronage.

    Constitutionally, the position of an MP should belong to the person who wins the most votes in that borough. But in practice, most positions belong to the three main parties. E.g. in Brentwood, Eric Pickles was flown in against the wishes of many local Conservative voters, who even campaigned against him (unsuccessfully) at the next general election. Central Office knew very well that a bit local canvassing would never beat national press, radio and TV. And they were right.

    Today, perhaps, mass media is losing its power. Even television itself is becoming diffused throughout growing number of channels. If we are going to create a revolution then at least we have the tools to do it. Hopefully, we will be able to force the change we need though old fashioned campaigning using new media.