Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeDemocracy in DecayDemocracy in decay: A Tale of Two Elections

Democracy in decay: A Tale of Two Elections


THIS has been a strange campaigning season, a tale of two elections. First, we had the campaign that was supposed to be but wasn’t, the campaign between the major parties, the statesmen, the grown-ups, the ‘adults in the room’ as they pompously like to style themselves.

Well, the adults may have been in the room but they have certainly not been out in the streets, at least if my neck of the woods has been any guide. Admittedly I live in leafy London Remainerville, a place that until quite recently returned Tory MPs but with an ever-growing Liberal Democratic threat as demographics changed and younger millennials inexorably replaced the boomers and the wartime generation. Brexit, unsurprisingly, was the tipping point, turning the seat bright orange as the Rage of Remoan howled across the land in those febrile post-referendum days. It is not surprising that the Tories judge the seat now a lost cause: there has been no canvassing apart from a single leaflet dropped through the door; the once-mighty Tory legions have plainly been withdrawn to defend the party’s Blue Wall heartlands, once impregnable but now deeply threatened. Meanwhile, the resurgent Lib Dems have scarcely been more active: they obviously regard the seat as being in the bag.

Across much of the nation it seems to be the same picture, and the ghostliness of this campaign reflects its non-serious nature as far as both the voters and some of the protagonists are concerned: the elites have long considered politics their own personal game, so much so that some treat it as a sporting fixture to place potentially illegal bets on. The change from the metro-liberal globalist technocrat Sunak to the metro-liberal globalist technocrat Starmer is of little import to many within Westminster’s magic circle, or for that matter to the wider electorate.

Then there is the other campaign: the one that wasn’t supposed to be worthy of serious consideration. The campaign of the minor parties, the cranks, the ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ as David Cameron once called Ukip activists (that one worked out well for you, didn’t it, Dave?) the supposed wackos and fanatics who were thought to be little more than noises off in the sensible world of the Centrist Dads. Now, with the electrifying return of Farage and the Reform UK insurgency seriously alarming the political and media elites, suddenly who gets to be Caesar this week matters even less as the rough and uncivilised Goths get closer and closer to the gates of Rome. 

Beyond it all, though, is an even bigger picture. The apathy towards the major parties is but a proxy for a system of government that is already all but dead. Legalistically, the incoming Starmer government will no doubt further embed the quango state and ensnare us further in technocracy, but in a far deeper cultural context it is has been plain for a considerable time that we are not living in a democracy at all. The indignation, shock and contempt that Brexit generated amongst the elites was not just at the result itself but also the suggestion that they had to abide by the will of the people, the great unwashed, in implementing it. Even when it was finally realised, Brexit was done only in law but utterly violated in spirit.

The elites, in short, still refuse to listen, plainly having forgotten Newton’s third law that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction: Reform UK is merely the crystallised tip of a much larger and (currently) more amorphous revolt now condensing from the political ether. Both Farage and the ever more influential thinker and commentator Professor Matt Goodwin have spoken in favour of Direct Democracy and about building a much wider movement based on what might be called the Substack revolution. It is plain that what they have in mind will some kind of amalgam of party and pressure group, a movement with that combines the necessity of vertical hierarchies and disciplines of a traditional political party with the flexibility of horizontal networks of campaigning activists, a movement in short designed either to govern when in office or to drive debate when outside it, all within a Swiss-style hybrid representative and direct democratic model.

The near future therefore promises to be as every bit as tumultuous and significant for our country as any of the great democratic movements in our past: the Chartists, the Glorious Revolution, the English Civil War, even perhaps the signing of Magna Carta. The 800-year-old ‘shamocratic’ institution of Parliament will, in the next decade, finally cede meaningful power to the people in a way that will likely prove as benign as it is irreversible.

So, dear readers, my advice to you all today is to go out and vote for hope, vote for Direct Democracy and vote for Reform. Once day you can proudly tell your grandchildren . . .

‘I was there at the dawn.’

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Andrew Cadman
Andrew Cadman
IT Consultant who works and lives in the UK. He is @Andrewccadman on Parler.

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