British ‘democracy’ in action

What will Brexit mean, both short and long-term?  Could it lead to more countries’ rank and file voters deciding to take back control from the elitists who denigrate the hoi polloi?  Or will the elitist establishment continue trampling on democracy?

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Britain’s enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class, UN report confirms

Britain’s enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class, UN report confirms  By John Wight, RT, 20 November 2018

 As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity.

A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence that the enemy of the British people is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.

Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so investigating the impact of eight years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.

What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war unleashed by the country’s right-wing Tory establishment against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society – upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession but who have been forced to pay the price.

From the report’s introduction:

“It…seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in foodbanks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for Suicide Prevention and civil society to report in depth on unheard of levels of loneliness and isolation.”

Though as a citizen of the UK I respectfully beg to differ with the professor’s claim that such social and economic carnage seems“contrary to British values,”(on the contrary it is entirely in keeping with the values of the country’s Tory establishment, an establishment for whom the dehumanization of the poor and working class is central to its ideology), the point he makes about it being “obvious to anyone who opens their eyes,” is well made.

For it is now the case that in every town and city centre in Britain, it is impossible to walk in any direction for more than a minute before coming across homeless people begging in the street. And the fact that some 13,000 of them are former soldiers, casualties of the country’s various military adventures in recent years, undertaken in service to Washington, exposes the pious platitudes peddled by politicians and the government as reverence for the troops and their ‘sacrifice,’ as insincere garbage.

 

 

As inequality increases, the wealthy and powerful become more desperate to cling onto their gains and distract us with imagined threats and political sideshows. Jingoism, Russophobia and red-baiting…

 

Overall, 14 million people in the UK are now living in poverty, a figure which translates into an entire fifth of the population. Four million of them are children, while, according to Professor Alston, 1.5 million people are destitute – that is, unable to afford the basic necessities of life.

And this is what the ruling class of the fifth largest economy in the world, a country that parades itself on the world stage as a pillar of democracy and human rights, considers progress.

The values responsible for creating such a grim social landscape are compatible with the 18th not 21st century. They are proof positive that the network of elite private schools – Eton, Harrow, Fettes College et al. – where those responsible for this human carnage are inculcated with the sense of entitlement and born to rule ethos that defines them, are Britain’s hotbeds of extremism.

Professor Alston:“British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today’s world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society.”

Here, set out above in bold relief, is the barbarism that walks hand in hand with free market capitalism. It is the same barbarism that was responsible for pushing post-Soviet Russia into a decade-long economic and social abyss in the 1990s, and the values that have pushed 14 million people in the UK into the same economic and social abyss in our time.

Austerity, it bears emphasizing, is not and never has been a viable economic response to recession in a given economy.

Instead, it is an ideological club, wielded on behalf of the rich and big business to ensure that the price paid for said economic recession is borne exclusively by those least able to bear it – namely the poor and working people. It is class war by any other name, packaged and presented as legitimate government policy.

However, in Britain’s case in 2018, this is a war like no other because as Professor Philip Alston’s report lays bare, one side in this war has been throwing all the punches and one side has been taking them.

As the saying goes, wars take place when the government tells you who the enemy is; revolutions take place when you work it out for yourself.

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The War on Tommy Robinson

The War on Tommy Robinson By Stefan Molyneux, Quadrant Online, 4 July 2018

Explain why white men accused of pedophilia are allowed to be photographed and questioned by reporters on court steps, while Pakistani Muslims are not. Explain why a police force that took three decades to start dealing with Muslim rape gangs was able to arrest and incarcerate a journalist within a few scant hours. Explain why a man can be arrested for breaching the peace when no violence has taken place. To the British government: explain your actions, or open Tommy Robinson’s cell and let him walk free.

 

The rule of law is fragile, and relies on the self-restraint of the majority. In a just society, the majority obey the law because they believe it represents universal values – moral absolutes. They obey the law not for fear of punishment, but for fear of the self-contempt that comes from doing wrong.

 

As children, we are told that the law is objective, fair and moral. As we grow up, though, it becomes increasingly impossible to avoid the feeling that the actual law has little to do with the Platonic stories we were told as children. We begin to suspect that the law may in fact – or at least at times – be a coercive mechanism designed to protect the powerful, appease the aggressive, and bully the vulnerable.

The arrest of Tommy Robinson is a hammer-blow to the fragile base of people’s respect for British law. The reality that he could be grabbed off the street and thrown into a dangerous jail – in a matter of hours – is deeply shocking.

Tommy was under a suspended sentence for filming on courthouse property in the past. On May 25, 2018,  while live-streaming his thoughts about the sentencing of alleged Muslim child rapists, Tommy very consciously stayed away from the court steps, constantly used the word “alleged,” and checked with the police to ensure that he was not breaking the law.

Tommy yelled questions at the alleged criminals on their way into court – so what? How many times have you watched reporters shouting questions at people going in and out of courtrooms? You can find pictures of reporters pointing cameras and microphones at Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter, who were accused of similar crimes against children.

Tommy Robinson was arrested for “breaching the peace,” which is a civil proceeding that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Was imminent violence about to erupt from his reporting? How can Tommy Robinson have been “breaching the peace” while wandering around in the rain on a largely empty street sharing his thoughts on criminal proceedings? There were several police officers present during his broadcast, why did they allow him to break the law for so long?

Was Tommy wrong to broadcast the names of the alleged criminals? The mainstream media, including the state broadcaster, the BBC, had already named them. Why was he punished, but not them?

These are all questions that demand answers.

Even if everything done by the police or the court was perfectly legitimate and reasonable, the problem is that many people in England believe that Tommy Robinson is being unjustly persecuted by his government. The fact that he was arrested so shortly after his successful Day for Freedom event, where he gathered thousands of people in support of free speech, strikes many as a little bit more than a coincidence.

Is the law being applied fairly? Tommy Robinson has received countless death threats over the years, and has reported many of them. Did the police leap into action to track down and prosecute anyone sending those threats?

If the British government truly believes that incarcerating Tommy Robinson is legitimate, then they should call a press conference, and answer as many questions as people have, explaining their actions in detail.

As we all know, there has been no press conference. Instead of transparency, the government has imposed a publication ban – not just on the trial of the alleged child rapists, but on the arrest and incarceration of Tommy Robinson. Not only are reporters unable to ask questions, they are forbidden from even reporting the bare facts about Tommy Robinson’s incarceration.

Why? British law strains – perhaps too hard – to prevent publication of information that might influence a jury, but Tommy’s incarceration was on the order of a judge. He will not get a jury trial for 13 months imprisonment. Since there is no jury to influence, why ban reports on his arrest and punishment?

Click here for the video Britons aren’t allowed to see
by the man who has been disappeared

 

Do these actions strike you as the actions of a government with nothing to hide?

Free societies can only function with a general respect for the rule of law. If the application of the law appears selective, unjust, or political, people begin to believe that the law no longer represents universal moral values. If so, what is their relationship to unjust laws? Should all laws be blindly obeyed, independent of conscience or reason? The moral progress of mankind has always manifested as resistance to injustice. Those who ran the Underground Railroad that helped escaped slaves get from America to Canada were criminals according to the law of their day. We now think of them as heroes defying injustice, because the law was morally wrong.

The inescapable perception that various ethnic and religious groups are accorded different treatment under the Western law is one of the most dangerous outcomes of the cult of diversity.

Diversity of thought, opinion, arguments and culture can be beneficial – diversity of treatment under the law fragments societies.

The blind mantra that “diversity is a strength” is an attempt to ignore the most fundamental challenge of multiculturalism, which is: if diversity is a value, what is our relationship to belief systems which do not value diversity?

If tolerance of homosexuality is a virtue, what is our relationship to belief systems that are viciously hostile to homosexuality? If equality of opportunity for women is a virtue, what about cultures and religions which oppose such equality?

And if freedom of speech is a value, what is our relationship to those who violently oppose freedom of speech?

Diversity is a value only if moral values remain constant. We need freedom of speech in part because robust debate in a free arena of ideas is our best chance of approaching the truth.

You need a team with diverse skills to build a house, but everything must rest on a strong foundation. Diversity is only a strength if it rests on universal moral values.

Is Tommy Robinson being treated fairly? If gangs of white men had spent decades raping and torturing little  Muslim girls, and a justly outraged Muslim reporter was covering the legal proceedings, would he be arrested?

We all know the answer to that question. And we all know why.

Diversity of opinion is the path to truth – diversity of legal systems is the path to ruin.

If the arrest and incarceration of Tommy Robinson is just, then the government must throw open the doors and invite cross-examination from sceptics. Honestly explain what happened, and why.

Explain why elderly white men accused of pedophilia are allowed to be photographed and questioned by reporters on court steps, while Pakistani Muslims are not.

Explain why a police force that took three decades to start dealing with Muslim rape gangs was able to arrest and incarcerate a journalist within a few scant hours.

Explain why a man can be arrested for breaching the peace when no violence has taken place – or appears about to take place.

To the British government: explain your actions, or open Tommy Robinson’s cell and let him walk free.

Stefan Molyneux is the host of Freedomain Radio

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The British Lords and the Left unite to fight democracy

The British Lords and the Left unite to fight democracy  By Mike Hume, Spiked Online, 5 May 2018

‘Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.’ So, allegedly, wrote 18th century Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot. With the subsequent political tumult of the 1789 French Revolution, Diderot’s supposed words became popularised as ‘Hang the last aristocrat with the guts of the last priest!’. The people’s enemies were the tyrannical Ancien Régime and its apologists in the church hierarchy.

More than 200 years later, in the struggle over Brexit, we are faced with different enemies seeking to reverse the democratic revolt by 17.4million Leave voters. Members of the House of Lords leading the reactionary backlash against Brexit are not old-fashioned aristocrats, but an unelected club of former, failed and sometimes fraudulent politicians. And the Remainer elites’ loud cheerleaders are to be found, not among church traditionalists, but in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and on the left.

It seems we need a new version of that old revolutionary slogan. Perhaps something like ‘Hang the last Remainer Lord with the guts of the last Brexit-betraying leftie’! Though, in these more temperate times, we should only wish to see them throttled in a figurative, political sense, of course.

This week the House of Lords inflicted yet more defeats on the Tory government over its EU Withdrawal Bill. By 335 votes to 294, peers passed an amendment which would give parliament the power to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal, or force prime minister Theresa May (or her successor) to return to the negotiating table if they didn’t like the exit agreement.

If upheld by MPs in the House of Commons, this amendment would effectively tie the government’s hands. It could mean the UK only leaves the EU on terms acceptable to Brussels and the hardcore anti-Brexiteers back home. That would mean Remain by another name.

Of course, the lords insist they are only defending parliamentary democracy and sovereignty against government diktat. But this is a mockery of democracy. They never seemed concerned about UK parliamentary sovereignty while imposed EU rules rode roughshod over it for 40 years. Yet suddenly they want to defend it against the demand for popular democracy and sovereignty expressed in the EU referendum result. Those 335 unelected, unaccountable, ermined lords have appointed themselves as champions of democracy against the ‘tyranny’ of 17.4million Leave voters.

How times change. After the anti-Brexit votes, the lords came under fierce attack from the sort of conservative politicians and newspapers that might once have been expected to defend the traditions of parliament’s upper house. Tory trade secretary Liam Fox warned peers were trying to ‘thwart the will of the British people’; the Suncalled the Lords ‘a cancer eating away at our democracy’; the Daily Mail dubbed it ‘a house of unelected wreckers’; former UKIP leader Nigel Farage echoed spiked’s call for a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords.

Yet on the other side, the democracy-subverting Lords were praised by leaders of the Labour Party and the left who always claim to be supporters of radical change. Labour’s (anti-)Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said the vote marked a ‘hugely significant moment’ in the fight to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal acceptable to Remainers – more significant, apparently, than the small matter of the referendum vote to do just that.

Leading left-liberal voice the Guardian, a longstanding advocate of radical Lords’ reform, made space for an article by arch-Remainer Lord Bilimoria (no doubt we must ensure that such disenfranchised minorities as peers of the realm have a voice). Looking down from the moral high ground, his lordship informed us that, by trying to stop Brexit, the Lords is simply doing what’s best for the British people, whether we know/like it or not: ‘Rather than being at war with the nation, we are its very custodians.’ Or Guardians, perhaps.

Further left, a senior writer at New Statesman magazine, Labour’s house journal, praised the House of Lords as ‘the left’s new best friend’. Even fanatical Corbynista website the Canary suggested that Labour supporters ‘wishing to remain in the EU may find unlikely heroes in their unelected peers’. With ‘best friends’ and ‘heroes’ like the Lords, who needs enemies?

In the battle over Brexit, the Lords and the Labour-supporting left have united to fight democracy. In this unholy alliance against the people, the Lords at least is only doing its job. But the left has betrayed all it claims to stand for.

The role of the upper house in Britain’s modern political history has been to restrain democratic reform and guard the state against the danger of ‘too much’ democracy.

Over the past two centuries of political struggle, the balance of power has shifted away from the Lords towards a House of Commons, elected by an increasingly wide franchise; universal adult suffrage was finally achieved in 1929. Seventy years later, when Tony Blair’s New Labour government removed almost all hereditary peers from parliament, it surely should have sounded the death knell for the unaccountable power of peers.

Yet today, the Lords, leftover rubbish of the Middle Ages, is back at the forefront of the battle over democracy and sovereignty. With more than 800 unelected members (200 more than before the hereditaries were ousted), the House of Lords is now the largest chamber in any democracy – albeit one without a shred of democratic legitimacy. The fact that the misnamed Liberal Democrats, reduced to a rump of a dozen elected MPs, now has more than a hundred appointed peers swanning about in the Lords captures the unaccountable essence of that den of cronies.

Abolishing the House of Lords remains the unfinished business of Britain’s democratic revolution. That was why the left, from the Levellers of the 17th century to the Chartists of the 19th, always despised the anti-democratic institution that Thomas Paine described as the ‘remains of aristocratic tyranny’. As late as the early 1980s, under left-wing leader Michael Foot, the Labour Party backed abolition. Even in 2007, when the House of Commons debated various options for Lords reform, a sizeable minority of 163 MPs voted to do away with it altogether.

Yet now, Labour praises the Remainer elites in the Lords as champions of democracy, while the left hails the revolting peers as its ‘new best friends’ and ‘unlikely heroes’. There could hardly be a more telling illustration of the left’s historic shift away from the demos, the people, towards the unaccountable institutions of the state and the EU. Or of Labour’s abandonment of traditional working-class Leave voters in the rush of the ‘People’s Party’ to become the party of the metropolitan Remainer middle classes.

The Lords and its radical fan club might claim to be acting in defence of parliamentary sovereignty. Yet what does representative democracy really mean when no national political party represents the 52 per cent who voted Leave, and every party in parliament – bar Northern Ireland’s small and much-maligned Democratic Unionists – is led by Remainers?

Those who think of ourselves as left democrats have always defended parliamentary democracy against infringement by unaccountable powers, be that a king, the courts or the European Commission. But allow a distorted version of parliamentary sovereignty to be used as an elitist garrotte, to throttle the popular democratic demand for Brexit? Hang that.

 

Mick Hume is spiked’s editor-at-large. His new book, Revolting! How the Establishment is Undermining Democracy – and What They’re Afraid of, is published by William Collins. Buy it here.

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More articles concerning British ‘democracy’

About Peter Senior

I'm a very experienced and pragmatic management consultant. I've reviewed and led the restructuring of many organisations - large and small corporations and Government Departments, much of the time as President of the New Zealand Institute of Management Consultants. Before that I was General Manager of a major NZ newspaper; earlier, an analyst for IBM UK. I gained an honours degree in engineering at London University, and studied management at Cambridge University. This wide range of experience has left me frustrated: I continue to see too many examples of really bad management. Sometimes small easily fixed issues; sometimes fundamental faults; and sometimes really tricky problems. Mostly these issues can be fixed using a mixture of common sense, 'management 101' and applying lessons from years of management experience. Unfortunately, all too often, politics, bureaucracy and daft government regulations get in the way; internal factors such as poor culture and out-of-date strategies are often evident. So what's gone wrong, and why, and most importantly, how to fix 'it'? I hope there are like-minded people 'out there' who will share their thoughts enabling 'us' to improve some significant management failures that affect the general public. If you just accept bad management, you don't have the right to complain! If you'd like to share thoughts on any aspects of management, send me an email to petersenior42@gmail.com . My latest project has the interim title 'You’ve been conned. Much of what you were taught and read is largely irrelevant, misleading or plain wrong – this is the REAL story of life: past, present and our possible future.' The working paper so far comprises 105 pages, many listing references and interim conclusions. The main problem is finding sufficient credible evidence, and realising the more Iearn, the more I realise I don't know!
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