My previous post concerning my loathing for Halifax ads had a little post script on recent developments at Cornwall Council which seems to have attracted some attention. In particular people are asking the question do we live in a Democracy ?
About 15 years ago a general trend started to emerge in the way we run our public services. The leaders of Britain begun to believe that the best way to make people happy is by setting targets for their well being. For example if they increase the level of hip operations, kids reading, criminals locked up etc etc then we on the whole will be happier. Faith in the ability for ordinary people to make decisions about these targets evaporated, the general feeling that people were too stupid to make decisions that made them better became entrenched. They are cleverer and more capable than us at least they think so.
Very slowly local authorities lost their democratic powers which were replaced with "governance" powers which work like this. The government decides what all local Councils must do to the very letter of the law and in 90% of all council decisions Councillors are managing these targets on behalf of the central controllers, the experts that set the targets and a very small circle of politicians. Councillors are now "trained" to make decisions and are unable to make independent decisions on behalf of the community. To ensure that "key opinion formers" continue to believe that they have some control they are herded into talking shops, forums, consultation groups, local area networks etc where they largely moan about their own neighbourhood, the fast food shop on the corner, the dog poop, and the late bin collection etc. The accepted name for these people among the powerful is "useful idiots" the very same phrase once used by the Soviets to describe their supporters in the West in the cold war. The phrase "post democratic society" is used openly in philosophical discussions about public services.
Meanwhile national democracy is fundamentally flawed. Not since the 1940's has a majority party governed in Britain, even in the 1997 election 45% voted for Labour, a minority. Our election system with or without AV is broken (even though I will vote yes in May). In Britain we rarely notice that unlike other Western nations the people are not sovereign, Parliament is. Parliament of course is now so out of touch that we have MP's that do not even comprehend the outside world they run.
The biggest scandal though is that we are now governed by 2 major groups that exert influence way beyond national boundaries. Those with the theories and those with the cash. Those with the theories set the trend that ALL parties follow regardless of their history. When the current economic expert says we need to cut public services, all parties do. The big companies especially the banks influence way beyond national boundaries interfering through with as many decisions as they can to ensure they can continue to trade at privileged levels, those who create the theories often come from similarly privileged backgrounds who benefit from money created from these practices.
So in summary. A small super rich elite "know" our needs and "know" we are too stupid to make our own decisions, they "kindly" set targets for our happiness. Even the moderately well off are excluded from decisions. Central democracy is flawed, under influence from business and governed by those with the current theories.
Funny enough I do believe in Democracy, a Liberal Democracy as it is described in the constitution of Liberal Democrats "a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity"
(I think my next post will be the death of British liberalism)
So do we live in a Democracy . Do we arse.