Friday, 4 September 2015

Democracy's Future

The BBC have recently run a 'democracy day' series of posts .... I don't know whether this is coincidental to the recent events in Paris, where decidedly non-democratic voices have been heard post the jihadist attacks, or just coincidence, but the latest of these posts highlighted that Europe faces a "crisis of democracy", as a trust gap has emerged between political elite's, and the voters, this according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report commissioned by the broadcaster.

Democracy ~ The Best Of Some Bad Options.

Now I would read this argument as being that popular democracy is perceived to be failing, because the cosy elite heading each political party, are effectively the same peoples with much the same policies, and who ignore real voters wishes by singularly not carrying out those wishes on issues such as Immigration or Crime etc. If you have any doubt as to how cloned the elite have become in the UK by the way, just look at the education, background and work records of all the current Conservative government ministers, and those in the shadow posts in the Labour party. Virtually identikit 'professional politicians'.

However that's for another post (maybe) .... No, what I found interesting about all this, is the underlying assumption or idea in the articles, which is that if you don't vote 'mainstream', then your vote somehow represents a threat to 'democracy'. That the rising appeal of populist anti-establishment parties is somehow a threat to democracy, and not a reinvigoration of the stale post 1960's business as usual politics, which has had its dead hand on much of European politics (for the UK, post read Thatcher), for decades.

The term 'populist' is the one you have to watch out for. Its used almost as a smear, and certainly as a marker for parties who the authors don't 'approve' of. Certainly most non mainstream parties are described as populist. .... and similarly being populist makes you non-mainstream, having an appeal to the common man and woman makes you non-mainstream, espousing policies that the majority might want makes you non-mainstream .... and its that which makes you 'populist' and a threat to 'democracy' somehow. A circular logic I admit but you soon get the hang of this particular Catch 22.

Now when I was being taught at school - anti democratic forms of government were where one party, or one ideological rule was in force, typically in the USSR | Eastern Europe | The Arab World etc. Not 'voting' for someone who wasn't in the mainstream of politics. Perhaps it was best covered by the description 'as being those opposed or hostile to democracy as a form of government, or to certain of its features, such as majority rule or political equality' ... which still equated to the one party states covering most of the globe.

There was even a strange idea at the time, that no new political thought would be allowed in the West ... we just assumed that the Left and Centre Right would battle it out, with a gradual drift to the left .... but that this was democratic and represented what people wanted ~ well until Mrs Thatcher shook events up in the UK. However, even then in the UK, there were parties allowed to freely operate, who espoused anti-democratic systems, but who nevertheless could march, demonstrate, organise and disrupt because we were/are a democracy.

Muscular Democracy Building Has Been Popular In Recent Decades

Even now, parties from the far left ~ the hijackers of, or occasionally organisers of, every 'rent-a-mob' violent protest we have seen in the UK ~ are of course traditionally allowed to freely operate within our democracy .... after all its where middle-class warriors cut their left-wing teeth before moving into the mainstream Labour party. This despite the fact that these parties are normally hard line Marxist or Trotskyist parties, and usually hide themselves under instant umbrella groups, that they set up as cover (typically describing themselves as 'anti-racist', 'anti-fascist' or 'anti-Tory' groups), and would not be democratic if in power. Typically they use street violence to attack anyone whose views they don't like ~ free speech and opinion is only for them ~ democratic free speech is to be crushed when its opinions differ from theirs ... but it wasn't always so.

There are of course those other parties in the UK, who while they may not be mainstream, but for whom voting for is classed as 'OK', and not anti-democratic, no matter how radical or outré their policies are, mainly because they are soft liberal left .... the 'Greens' for example. Despite the fact that if they got into power, the UK would be bankrupt (or I should say more bankrupt), or facing mass unemployment within months, they are still classed as a 'good' non mainstream vote, by the liberal left elite, because they are democratic (you just can't envisage a green dictatorship, could you? ... or maybe you could?).

The others: Then there are those in the UK, usually from the far right, who are considered as beyond the pale, and voting for whom is obviously very undemocratic ~ in the old days this would be some party such as the British National Party (BNP), or more latterly the English Defence League (EDL) ..... but now, much to the horror of the liberal left, the non centre right has found a popular voice in  UKIP, and its this latter party that is really the target of the 'threat to democracy' jibes.

The White Working Class Once Backed Enoch Powell ...

If we hold democracy to be a good thing, then it has to allow free voice to all who want to stand up and be counted in a popular pluralist poll. It should enforce (with courts if necessary), the right of all legitimate political parties to march and campaign freely, and without the threat of violence from others in "Counter Demonstrations" (aka rent a mob attacks), with the final determination on how they do decided only by the voters decisions in a free ballot.

Everyone Should Be Able To Campaign Freely In A True Democracy

The idea should never hold sway, that there are parties whom the elite can castigate simply for expressing a legitimate opinion that the elite don't espouse, or who can be silenced by violence.... if for example your a Greek, and don't agree with the far left 'Syriza' party, or in the UK and don't agree with the UKIP party, then simply don't vote for them, but let them speak and have their say, without the threat of violence ...

After all, we do live in a democracy ... or so they say.

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