Bit of a ‘rogues gallery’?

Tusks, including those of elephants, are used to produce ivory and are highly valued – if only the same could be said about the tusk of the ‘elephant in the room’.

Donald Tusk has published his response to the letter sent to him by David Cameron in which the latter set out the areas in which he wanted reform. Tusk’s letter has been disected by Richard North in this article, which handily saves me the job of so doing.

One of the areas in which Cameron wants reform is that of sovereignty, included in which is the annulment of ‘ever closer union’ coupled with an enhanced role for national parliaments which allows them to ‘club together’ in order to stop unwanted measures. It is ironic that Cameron (and other politicians), who prattle on about the ‘sovereignty of parliament’, understand not the meaning of the word ‘sovereignty’. Whilst the UK is part of the political aspect of the European Union it can never be in the position of having the full right and power of a governing body to govern itself without any interference from outside sources or bodies. Likewise while the UK parliament is based on representative democracy (as is the EU) the people of the UK will always be subservient to their politicians.

On the subject of democracy, Chris Bryant (Labour: Rhondda) has an article in the New Statesman headlined: Sorry, the role of an MP is to be a representative, not a delegate; and in which he quotes Edmund Burke. Bryant laments what he terms the onset of ‘on-line democracy’ within social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, in which every vote in the House of Commons be subjected to a form of instant online constituency referendum. If Bryant can lament, then so can I because it is idiotic for anyone to argue the case for something, only to condemn himself by, in his words, failing to (and I quote) see an issue against the wider context. Witness Bryant writing: …..I still think parliamentary democracy is worth fighting for because it is the best way of managing our affairs as a nation so that that which touches all is agreed by all. Since when, under representative democracy, has any issue which has touched all been agreed by all?

Bryant, in his article, quotes Burke in defence of his argument;  so perhaps I may quote AV Dicey to Bryant. Quoting from this article (from my WfW days – and for those who haven’t read it, please do):

Yet A.V. Dicey held that there was an inherent weakness in the British system of representative democracy and its government. In a letter to James Bryce on 23rd March 1891 (source: Bryce Papers, Bodleian Library MS 3 fo.83.) he writes:

“the possibility….which no-one can dispute of a fundamental change passing into law which the mass of the nation do not desire.”

In effect what Dicey was alluding to was the fact that the foundation of representational democracy was, to use the vernacular, shot to hell; and by inference that it was not Parliament, but the people, who were sovereign.

That attempts by those of us who wish to change our democracy to one of direct democracy face a fight with our political elite, one which we readily recognize, is again illustrated by A.V. Dicey. In 1915, in the Introduction to Law of the Constitution, 8th ed  (London: Macmillan 1915 p.c.), he wrote:

“It is certain that no man who is really satisfied with the working of our party system will ever look with favour on an institution which aims at correcting the vices of party government.”

These three men, along with innumerable others, all believe in the continuance of the subugation of those who elect them. In respect of the UK’s prime ministers, it is worth recalling not one of those pictured in the photographs adorning the staircase wall in Number 10 truly believed in the sovereignty of the people. Bit of a ‘rogues gallery’?

There is an alternative; and one day the people of the United Kingdom will awake and realise just what is being done to them and in their name. When that day does come a word of warning to any politician who believes in representative democracy: don’t be one of them.