Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeDemocracy in DecayPrecious democracy? No, cynical autocracy

Precious democracy? No, cynical autocracy


A GENERATION ago, almost none of us would have balked at the phrase ‘our precious democracy’. The differing approaches from Labour in the 1970s through Thatcher, Blair and Brown proved that those in power had levers to pull and enact change. We might not have liked some of the results, but to say there was not the opportunity to kick out the bad was plainly absurd.

Today politicians constantly parrot ‘our precious democracy’ but I’ll wager fewer and fewer believe the words. For example Ben Wallace MP, in the context of the war in Ukraine, argued that ‘our precious democracy is under threat like never before’. I wonder where the threat to that precious democracy really comes from? Is the threat largely home-grown or from abroad?  Let’s examine the evidence.

Highlighting the major issues of the last 15 years or so is of course subjective, and no doubt readers will find other examples, but perhaps the key policy decisions since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 have been money printing, Net Zero, the equality agenda, woke and all, migration, Brexit, lockdown and now, if the German leak is to believed, British troops close to the button in Ukraine. How strong has the democratic process been in each instance? Have politicians followed manifesto pledges and how much debate has there been?

On money printing there was almost no debate at all. The decision was notionally outsourced to the Bank of England which came up with the Orwellian name of ‘quantitative easing’ to hide the Argentinian principle of debasing the currency. More, they kept the policy going for over a decade doing immense damage to the fabric of the nation by distorting asset prices and enabling Government to largely spend as they pleased without cost, until it all went wrong. So almost no debate in Parliament (the House of Lords did write an important critical note on the subject in 2021 more than ten years after the event) with the BBC either cheering or saying ‘not enough’.

We know the answer on Net Zero. Boris Johnson was upfront about his intentions here. The Conservative manifesto of 2019 did mention the environment on page 56 (out of 66). It had nice warm words about ‘our stewardship of the natural environment’ but zero detail of what the party had in store. On the contrary they proclaimed they believed in ‘free markets’ and by implication that was the approach.  If only. Instead the UK has taken Net Zero to the levels of zealotry that even the EU could not dream of. Was there any debate in Parliament? Almost no opposition and the brave few who did object were labelled deniers. Is there debate outside Parliament? Sure there is, but it is in pages such as these. The BBC studiously ignore any criticism as they are ‘following the science’.

On the equality agenda, woke and all, again hardly a peep from Parliament. A torrent of regulation, largely via the civil service and quangos, has swarmed over society without democratic debate. Who gave the universities the right to bias offers to certain ‘protected groups’, or force company boards to accept similar quotas, or debar parents from taking their children out of PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic) classes? Did Parliament debate any of this? Did the BBC offer a platform for the sceptics? Woke is no bottom-up revolution from the grass roots: it is entirely enforced from the top and with very little mainstream debate at all.

On migration the case is clear – 1.4million times clear. Manifestos have consistently been broken, and so spectacularly that there is no defence. Again, in Parliament the debate has been tepid, focusing on the tip and Rwanda, not legal migration which accounts for some 95 per cent of all cases. Some might say this is deliberate, while the BBC celebrates our diversity without any balance at all.

On Brexit, it eventually happened, sort of. The reality is that every obstruction was put in its path, and the blob’s reluctance to do anything with it is quite extraordinary. So yes, some debate in the land, but in terms of power, ossification, delay and every trick in the book were used to neuter it.

On lockdown the full apparatus of the State was clearly employed. Any dissent was crushed, ignored or harassed. Crushed as those with a legitimate alternative view, such as the Great Barrington Declaration, became near invisible. Harassed as any anti-lockdown rallies were policed as if they were a terrorist threat while the BBC and others ignored them almost totally in their coverage. The implications of this policy, forced on us without debate, have perhaps done more to break the nation than anything else.

On the possibility of outright war, with British troops in Ukraine, sensible debate is near impossible. Any caution, however justified as Nato and Russia square up, is ignored or shouted down as appeasement or apology. But is Nato’s record of honesty so strong? Weapons of Mass Destruction? The position is far more nuanced than the official narrative pretends.

Of course in ‘our precious democracy’ there is some debate, but it’s increasingly at the margin. The scope of what the permanent establishment and their cheerleaders in the mass media deem acceptable is narrowing all the time and if we are honest, as readers of this site generally are, on almost no major issue has there been any substantive debate at all.

No wonder we are constantly coming up with the wrong answer as this Government and its permanent establishment continually do. Only by shining a light and through competition of ideas do we stand a chance of coming to the right answer.

But no, the powers that be do not wish this in their vision of ‘liberal democracy’. When Wallace talks of our precious democracy in the context of the Russian bear he should examine the crisis, for crisis it is, at home first. He should ask exactly what real debate there is either in Parliament or in the mainstream. The answer is not very much.

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Humphrey Anderson
Humphrey Anderson
Humphrey Anderson is a pseudonym.

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