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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Brexit Spiked, and British Democracy RIP

Brexit Spiked, and British Democracy RIP  By Paul Craig Roberts, 25 September 2019

When the British people voted to exit the European Union I said in many interviews, and I suppose also in written columns, that I doubted it would ever happen.  It has been three years, and it has not.

Some hosts wondered why I doubted the British government’s willingness to comply with a majority vote, but it was obvious to me that pressures from special interests inside and outside the UK, especially the pressure from Washington, would prove to be more influential with the British government than a majority vote of the British people.

Washington expressed its view to the UK government that it was not in Washington’s interest for the UK to exit the EU.  Various special interest groups, including pro-immigrant organizations, began the propaganda campaign that the UK would end up a backwater excluded from European trade.  The same predictions of doom used when populations of countries rejected joining the EU were resurrected.  Instead of obeying the vote, the populations were subjected to propaganda that staying out of the EU is a death sentence.  After the populations were worn down and lost confidence, they are made to vote again, and were congratulated when “good sense” prevailed.

In other words, the elites prevailed over democracy.

This has been going on for three years in the UK while PM May “negotiated” an exit. The deal was a disaster.  It requires the British to pay 60 billion pounds sterling to buy its way out, to continue to accept third world immigrants, and to continue to accept the supremacy of EU law over UK law.  In other words, it was exit in name only.

To me it looked like a deal designed to block exit and to create a situation in which means could be employed to overturn Brexit.  That has now happened.  The 11 judges on the British Supreme Court have stepped in and blocked the temporary suspension of Parliament by Prime Minister Johnson and the Queen, a legal procedure used for centuries that the court ruled “unlawful.”

In other words, the court made a political intervention in favor of the opponents of Brexit.

The minority opposed to the UK exiting the EU are trying to use the court’s decision to force Johnson to resign.  Opponents are trying to conflate the court’s ruling that the 5-week suspension of Parliament is unlawful with the argument that Brexit itself is unlawful.

The British website, www.spiked-online.com, sees the ruling this way:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a vile assault on the democratic order. In finding that Boris Johnson’s proroguing of parliament was unlawful, and that parliament is not prorogued, the 11 justices have made an explicitly political decision in favour of the Remainer elite. They have taken sides. Ignore the utterly unconvincing pleas of the Remainer fanatics who brought this case, all of whom robotically insist that this is not a political decision, just a legal, constitutional one. No one is buying that. This was a decisively political act by 11 unelected judges who have taken sides against the government of the day, and this opens up a new, dark era in British political life.

“This judgement is a disaster for law and for politics. It’s bad for law because it will convince many more people that the law has become a political instrument, wielded by the wealthy to achieve openly political ends that they failed to achieve in the public, democratic sphere. And it is bad for politics because it points to the formation of a new politicised but untouchable elite which has power over the entire nation and everyone in it. That should terrify anyone who believes in real democracy. When the Daily Mail accused judges of behaving like enemies of the people, the Remainer elites went into meltdown. Our message to them today is clear: if you don’t want to be called an enemy of the people, stop behaving like one. https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/09/24/a-tyranny-of-judges/

A collection of BBC commentary can be found here: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49810261

Legal authorities will disagree as to whether the court saved democracy or destroyed it.

I would say the court destroyed democracy, because the court consciously ruled against the majority of the people who voted to exit the EU.  And most certainly, the court asserted its authority to be higher than that of Parliament.  I am not an expert on this matter, but from what I do know, however much or little it is, the function of the British Supreme Court is to rule on the constitutionality or lawfulness of laws that Parliament passes, not on the lawfulness of Parliamentary procedures.

I would not be surprised if former PM May was well paid by Washington to stall Brexit for three years, and I would not be surprised if Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was an orchestration designed to sink Brexit.  British prime ministers are well rewarded for serving Washington’s interest rather than the interest of the British people.  Consider Tony Blair who enabled Washington’s invasion of Iraq, for example, whose current net worth is $76 million.

Courts are unrepresentative and unaccountable. If Parliament allows the court’s ruling to stand, which is likely in view of the fight over Brexit, Parliament will have ceded the political domain to the court’s authority, just as the US Congress sacrificed the US Constitution to the “war on terror.”

Perhaps this was only to be expected.  When legislative bodies sacrifice the interests of the people to the interests of organized lobbies, they undermine their own authority and open themselves to the despoliation of their powers by other elements of government.

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The silencing of the people

The silencing of the people  By Brendan O’Neill, Editor, Spiked Online, 14 September 2019

This parliament feels increasingly illegitimate. It must go.

Last night, the House of Commons put on one of the most nauseating displays in its history. From the self-congratulation of the obsessively anti-Brexit, anti-democratic Speaker John Bercow to the last-minute pushing through of an archaic Humble Address motion to force government advisers to hand over their private WhatsApp messages, this was parliament at its worst. At its most aloof, its most decadent, and its most illiberal.

But perhaps the most grotesque sight of all, the sight that confirmed that this parliament is truly and irreparably exhausted, was Remainer MPs holding up signs declaring that they have been ‘silenced’ by Boris Johnson’s prorogation. This takes gall and arrogance to dizzying new heights.

Parliament is prorogued as of last night. It will not sit until 14 October. Whatever one thinks of this prorogation – spiked sees it as a cynical and unnecessary step – for Remainer MPs to complain about it is just too much to stomach. As prorogation began, with the arrival of Black Rod late in the evening, Remainer MPs booed, chanted ‘shame’, tried to prevent Bercow – the hero of their anti-Brexit, anti-democratic efforts – from leaving his chair, and held up signs saying ‘SILENCED’.

Silenced? Is this some kind of joke? Just a couple of hours before this ridiculous orgy of self-pity these same MPs had actually, legally silenced us, the people, by once again voting against the holding of a General Election. They pose as victims of ‘silencing’ when in truth they are the silencers. They are silencing the public voice, the very source of their democratic authority, and in the process bringing about a constitutional crisis unprecedented in modern times.

It is perverse for MPs to claim to be silenced. They have had more than three years to enact Brexit. They have been part of the longest parliamentary session since the English Civil War of 1642-1651. It reached that landmark on 7 May this year. By that point, the current parliamentary session had been running for 298 sitting days, or 2,657 hours and 56 minutes.

And what did they do for these hours and hours and days and days? They gabbed and blathered. They delayed and blocked and stalled Brexit. They made excuse after excuse for their failure to deliver Brexit. They preened and posed and made pseudo-fiery speeches about the evils of Brexit that impressed the Twitterati but literally no one else in the country. They filled the Commons with excuses and noise and bluster, all designed to distract attention from their staggering failure to respect the will of the people.

For these people now to present themselves as ‘silenced’, as being gagged on the Brexit issue, is mad. Indeed, their claim that ‘Brexit chaos’ is destroying parliament is utterly unconvincing. If Brexit has become chaotic, it is because of them. It is because of MPs’ backtracking on their own manifesto promise to respect the result of the EU referendum and because of their post-manifesto, post-democratic determination to destroy Brexit instead. We shouldn’t let them get away with blaming Brexit for the alleged chaos enveloping the political realm, because in truth it is their cynicism and lies and continual blocking of Brexit that has withered democracy in this country and reduced politics to a joke.

Even worse, they now prevent us, the public, from having a say on their behaviour and, in particular, on their legal block against a No Deal Brexit and their determination to secure yet another extension to the Article 50 process. Last night, MPs voted for a second time against holding a General Election. They do not want an election until they have effectively banned No Deal and kept us in the EU until at least January next year. They are going against the express will of the people and, at the same time, insulating themselves from the people’s judgement. They are usurping our democratic wishes while preventing us from having any say about this whatsoever. It is an outrage against democracy. They are silencing the masses.

This parliament doesn’t only feel morally and politically exhausted – it feels increasingly illegitimate. It feels like the least representative parliament in living memory. This is a parliament in which the vast majority of members were elected on manifestos that promised to deliver Brexit and yet it has spent much of the past three years trying to thwart Brexit. This is a parliament in which numerous MPs are now representatives of different parties to the ones they were elected for in 2017. This is a parliament that voted in favour of the EU referendum, voted in favour of triggering Article 50, and which continually said the people’s voice must be respected, and yet it now flat-out refuses to make Brexit a reality and in fact has essentially outlawed it via the Benn Bill.

They have to go. They have no idea how much contempt the public feels for them. Or perhaps they do, which would explain why they are so desperate to put off a General Election until they have completed their latest anti-Brexit, anti-democratic machinations. The public is biting at the bit to pass judgement – stinging, unforgiving judgement – on these political unrepresentatives. Parliament derives its authority entirely from the people, and yet right now it stands in opposition to the people. The people will not forget this when, finally, these charlatans and elitists allow us to exercise our democratic right to vote.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Brexiteers fighting for liberty and the people’s will

Brexiteers fighting for liberty and the people’s will  By Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 12 September 2019

The whole Brexit imbroglio is much more important than just its immediate consequences for Britain, epic as these will be. For Brexit in key ways represents a version of the clash of forces playing out in some measure in every main Western democracy.

Brexit is first about national sovereignty, but it is also about a profound clash of philosophies of society. It embodies a deep, instinctual, irreconcilable opposition about how societies should run, what is the source of democratic legitimacy and what are the ends of civic purpose. The clash is between two conflicting world views. One is a postmodern, undemocratic, technocrat state in the service of what a German author calls the Therapeutic Caliphate, or what we might less exaltedly call the left-liberal crack-up, a la the EU, which has as its purpose the eradication of national identity and the transformation of human nature. The other is a civic vision that recognises the universal quality of humanity but puts the nation-state at the heart of democratic and civic loyalty, and which honours traditional sources of wisdom and authority, and traditional forms of democracy.

The finest essay written on Brexit anywhere is Christopher Caldwell’s Why Hasn’t Brexit Happened?, in the August Claremont Review of Books. Caldwell is one of the most brilliant political analysts writing today. His decade-old book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (riffing off Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France), remains the most piercing analysis of the crisis of identity and purpose in contemporary Europe.

In his Claremont essay, Cald­well argues that Remainers faithfully represent the modern European constitutional tradition. This is a tradition that empowers a technocratic elite, built on documents with plenty of abstract nouns that inevitably give great legislative power to judges. The pincer movement of bureaucracy, ruling-class ideological uniformity and judicial activism restricts the space for normal democratic decision-making.

He writes: “These shift power from electorates and parliaments to managers of information, inside government and out. From thousand-year-old constitutional ideas to five-year-old ones, from habeas corpus to gender identity. Because it was Britain that did most to construct the ideal of liberty which is now being challenged, Brexit clarifies the constitutional stakes for the world as nothing else.”

Caldwell lays a brilliant sociological insight across his political analysis. In the old British constitutional system, which Brexiteers want to uphold and restore, courts had very little role in reviewing British legislation. In the EU system everything is ultimately decided by courts. All EU member nations must submit to European law and the European human rights court. But judicial and technocratic activism combined mean the courts can determine almost anything. A written right to home privacy and security, provided for in one of the European charters, for example, can enable a court to disallow more or less any measure at all it doesn’t like. As Caldwell shrewdly observes, once politics is “judicialised” all politicians become “mere talkers”.

However, he also makes the devastating observation that judicialising politics actually represents an enormous transfer of power from the poor to the rich. The judiciary is drawn from an extremely narrow band of society, typically from successful lawyers who are generally by birth and education, and then professionally, among the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest people in the society, and generally hold all the approved opinions. Parliaments, on the other hand, represent all kinds of people and have all kinds of people in them — rich and poor, smart and dumb, traditional and iconoclastic, conservative and radical.

Similarly, as Caldwell shows, removing the hereditary peers from the House of Lords but keeping it undemocratic has made it arguably less representative than when it was just composed of hereditary lords. These always contained among their number eccentrics and cranks, the relatively impoverished as well as the relatively rich. The Lords, he argues, is now less diverse and more class-bound than in its old incarnation. Now it is appointed. And it comprises “activist foundation heads, rights barristers, think-tank directors, in-the-tank journalists, and political henchmen”. Caldwell doesn’t make this point but it might have more diverse racial backgrounds than before but it has narrower ideological constraints and, as he says, a possibly narrower class range.

For Caldwell argues that Remain is essentially synonymous with ruling class and that Brexit represented an assault on the prerogatives of this ruling class. This class has infinitely more weapons, and almost infinitely more skilled information managers and bureaucratic insiders, to mount its battles than the amiable but unfocused democratic majority that voted for Brexit.

So, Caldwell says, the British establishment’s reaction to Brexit has been “all-out administrative, judicial, economic, media, political and parliamentary war. The battle against Brexit is being fought, Europe-wide, with all the weaponry a cornered elite has at its disposal. It has proved sufficient so far.”

EU insider elites are extremely good at what they do: augment their own power and administer their own policy directives. Indeed in some ways the EU is a peculiarly efficient administrative state because it developed before any society existed that it was supposed to rule or even serve; that is to say, before a political entity named Europe existed. Therefore it could develop seamless bureaucratic mechanisms and defences of its power without any of the normal interference a real society would give it, without having to make any concessions for a real society’s traditions or even to deal with one pragmatically. Then it could impose this technocratic state on the different nations of Europe.

Of course, beyond the insider elite, this hasn’t been very good for those who live in Europe. Caldwell argues: “In most member countries the EU was being blamed for stagnating economies, dizzying inequality and out-of-control immigration.” It’s important to note Boris Johnson, like Donald Trump, explicitly wants an Australian-style immigration system, where the government controls who comes into the country and can choose skilled immigrants, while also of course, certainly in Johnson’s case, having a humanitarian intake.

But the EU being blamed for rising inequality is one of Cald­well’s most enthralling insights. The fact so many working-class and poorer areas voted for Brexit is used by Remainers, with fabulous class condescension, to show what an ill-judged, foolish decision it was, for the great unwashed could not possibly know what is actually in their best interests.

Yet, as Caldwell demonstrates, the type and model of governance the EU promotes pervasively diminishes all the traditional and real measures of democratic input and accountability. It privileges the affluent technocratic elite with all its neurotic virtue signalling and tells the common man his life embodies no wisdom and not much value.

This Brexit revolution is a liberty-seeking missile. Will it find its target?

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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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