Friday, 10 June 2011

Democracy - what Democracy? ... The Government is pushing through reforms that no-one voted for

In an article in the New Statesman the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that the public is gripped by “fear” over the Government’s reforms to education, the NHS and the benefits system and accuses David Cameron and Nick Clegg of forcing through “radical policies for which no one voted”.

Openly questioning the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition, the Archbishop dismisses the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” as a “painfully stale” slogan, and claims that it is “not enough” for ministers to blame Britain’s economic and social problems on the last Labour government.

His two-page critique, titled “The government needs to know how afraid people are”, is the most forthright political criticism by such a senior cleric since Robert Runcie enraged Margaret Thatcher with a series of attacks in the 1980s. Lambeth Palace is braced for an angry response but Dr Williams, who became Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, is understood to believe that the moment is right for him to enter the political debate.

The Archbishop warns that Westminster politics “feels pretty stuck”, adding that his aim is to stimulate “a livelier debate” and to challenge the Left to develop its own “big idea” as an alternative to the Tory-Lib Dem alliance.

He said the Coalition is facing “bafflement and indignation” over its plans to reform the health service and education, he writes. “With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” the Archbishop says.

“At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.” 

He also went on to say that the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” is viewed with “widespread suspicion” as an “opportunistic” cover for spending cuts, as previous champions resign in protest and given the Government Big Society Tsar has now also stepped down.

Yet arguably the biggest con of all is when Politicians stand up and criticize the lack of democracy in other countries around the world ... and site western democracies as an examplar to follow! Yet in reality, in British democracy, only around 2% of votes in marginal constituencies really count, and even these votes count only once every five years! As a result, Politicians, in-between elections, do what they want in their own self-interest, regardless of what they may have previously promised the electorate (which is arguably both immoral and unethical) ... which is why the Archbishop Canterbury has decided to 'shine a light' on it.

Until ignorance reduces and people stand-up to be counted (i.e. apathy reduces) such misuse of power will continue. Let's see how much longer they'll be able get away with it ... as things continue to get worse, and honest, hard-working people continue to face the harsh reality of paying the price of bailing out the banks and continuing to fund their lavish multi-million pound bonuses. Corrupt bankers and politicians have a lot to answer for ... and the day draws ever closer when they are called to account. 

Aristotle himself said: 

"Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers" 

"In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme" 

"No notice is taken of a little evil, but when it increases it strikes the eye"

"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" 

and ... "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance".

Wise words indeed ... and just as revelant today.