The Conservative Party and their allies in the press and the various think-tanks are anti-democratic. Since the 1980s, the Tories have embarked on measures designed to destroy democratic institutions that do not fit into their notion of democracy. These people believe that freedom can only be obtained through them.
Here are some notable examples:
- The abolition of the metropolitan counties in the 1980s. These democratically elected councils were abolished simply because they had the temerity to stand up to Thatcher’s anti-democratic policies which were designed to destroy local services. The metropolitan councils formed the single biggest opposition to Thatcher. When they were abolished, the people living in the metropolitan counties had no local voice or government.
- Draconian anti-union laws enacted by Thatcher are about to be strengthened by the current government. Trade unions are democratic bodies that act in the interest of their members. Leaders are democratically elected by their membership. The recent lies in the Tory press about how union leaders are being paid out of the state’s coffers shows just how anti-democratic the Tories are. They don’t like unions and they hate the idea of union members using their right to strike. In 1978, the Tory-supporting Freedom Association worked tirelessly to crush the Grunwick Strike.
- The Poll Tax or Community Charge was introduced to replace the rates. However, in order to vote, you had to pay the tax. Ian Lang, the government minister responsible for the Poll Tax, believed that the Scots would love the tax because it was all about ‘equality’ and wanted it introduced in Scotland first. You know what happened next.
- The government’s announcement that it was going to redraw the electoral boundaries and cut the number of MPs is fundamentally anti-democratic because it is a form of gerrymandering that will result in greater numbers of Tory MPs which will automatically lead to an elected one-party state with a weak opposition.
- The number of MPs required to force a no confidence vote is to be increased to 55%. Even some Tory backbenchers are questioning the wisdom of the government’s proposal. This will again lead to an elected one-party state with a weak opposition.
- The proposal to have elected sheriffs to oversee local law enforcement means that the application of some laws will vary from place to place. There is nothing to stop a BNP member from being elected sheriff in an area where the BNP (or UKIP) has strong support. This could lead to the law being used for purely racial purposes.
All of these examples have been exercised in the name of “freedom”. In other words, one group feels that in order to be more free, it has to limit the freedoms of others. That isn’t freedom. It’s a form of oppression.
The only way neoliberal economic policies can be implemented is by force. No one wants an NHS that is forced to behave as though it were a publicly limited company, nor do patients and other end users of public services want to be regarded as customers. All of this must be imposed on the public by the government.