Tag Archives: sham democracy

Let’s Talk About: Philip Davies And, Er, Equality?

We’ve had moments like these before, dear reader.  You know the ones. Like the time when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,  prompting Tom Lehrer to wryly declare satire “obsolete”?  Well, today is one of those of days.  Now take a deep breath.  Are you ready? Philip ‘Dismal’ Davies, the Tory member for Shipley and flatmate of Esther McVey, has been elected unopposed (sic) to the Commons  Committee on Women and Equality.  No, you didn’t misread that. A man who is opposed to equality has been elected unopposed (sic) to a committee on equality.  Is that a postmodern turn or what?

So who is Philip Davies? Well, he’s on the  hard right of the Conservative Party but he’d call himself a ‘libertarian’.  He’s one of those libertarians who denies freedom to others.  A lot of them do it.   Since entering the Commons in 2005, Dismal Davies has  made it his mission to support the interests of the powerful over the weak.  In fact, when it comes to those most in need, you’ll always find Dismal in the Commons filibustering a bill that’s designed to protect them.

As a defender of personal freedoms (freedom from poverty or disease excepted), Dismal was once the Parliamentary spokesman for the equally dismal, but now thankfully defunct, Campaign Against Political Correctness. In this role, he bombarded the Equality and Human Rights Commission with a series of trolling letters asking silly questions on topics like blacking up (sic). The Guardian reported:

Davies regularly addresses Phillips as Sir Trevor, leading the EHRC chair to eventually add a handwritten note to one reply: “Thank you for the ‘knighthood’ but HM has – probably rightly – never extended that honour to me!!”

With an obvious track record in attacking feminism and spitting in the faces of the disadvantaged, The Cat wonders how Dismal’s presence on the committee can be anything but disruptive.  More importantly, how was he elected unopposed in the first place?  That says a lot about our democracy.  Doesn’t it?

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Occupy Democracy – The Battle of the Tarpaulin

Think we live in a democracy? Think we live in a ‘free country’? Think again. Protest is increasingly being criminalized by our imperial masters. For the last few days Occupy Democracy has been occupying Parliament Square. This excellent blog by indyrikki explains what happened last night when the Territorial Support Group moved in and tried to force the protesters to give up.

indyrikki

If a progressive movement can gauge the effect it’s having from the response of the State, then the Unions should be ashamed of themselves, and the Occupy movement should be cheering loudly.

08 occupy 18

Depending on whom you believe, the Unions roused between 50,000 and 100,000 people to march a tiring long course to Hyde Park to listen to the same old speeches from the same list of actors, demanding change but seldom challenging the system.

Policing was hands-off, relatively low key, and generally good-natured.

Meanwhile, globally there is a movement growing that recognises the present system of central banking and corporate power is so out of all public and democratic control, so corrupt, and so destructive that it can’t be ‘changed’ but must be replaced.

Although in the UK the movement appears to be small in numbers, it’s clear it has a growing resonance, and that more and more people are…

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The democracy sham

The Conservatives argue that directly elected mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC’s) will allow the British public to engage more with politics and democracy. But the evidence that I’ve seen suggests otherwise. People are turned off by politics, not because of the voting or anything associated with it, but because they realize that British politics, parliamentary politics in particular, is distant; they feel alienated from it. The reason for this is quite simple: British politics has long been the preserve of the aristocrats and landed gentry. The interlude between Kier Hardie’s election in 1892 and the end of the 1980s was the only time in this country’s history when working class people were elected to parliament in any great number. No more, it seems. The doors to the Commons have been shut in their faces – like what happens to Black Rod during the State Opening of Parliament. Except Black Rod isn’t elected, he’s appointed by the Crown.

If the main parties want people to engage more with politics, then politics needs to be more participatory.  Voting is only a small part of the democratic process and doesn’t form its totality. There’s more to democracy than voting but try telling mainstream politicians that and you’ll get no reply.

When the Tories took power in 2010, they talked movingly about “localism” and what it could do. Localism, in case anyone isn’t quite sure, is a way for the Tories to make cuts to public services under the rubric of devolved democratic power. The powers that the elected mayors will have will be minimal. All you’re doing is voting for a political hasbeen or a political wannabe who will take well over £100, 000 in salary and do practically nothing but spout a load of hot air and look good for the cameras.

Directly elected mayors have been a joke. Hartlepool elected someone dressed in a monkey costume, who called himself H’Angus and Middlesbrough elected a former chief constable as their mayor. It’s the latter that I would like to turn to. Ray Mallon has been elected three times and on each occasion his majority has been reduced and the turnout barely increases, if at all. In April 2011, Mallon was caught on tape allegedly slurring Asian taxi drivers and making sexually explicit comments about a member of staff.

Middlesbrough has a total population of 138, 400. In the referendum to establish whether Middlesbrough residents wanted a mayor, there was a measly 34% turnout. In last year’s election the turnout was 36.5% and Mallon was elected with 17,917 votes or a 50.4% share of the vote. It seems that directly elected mayors aren’t as popular as the Tories or Nu Labour would like us to think. Yet they persist with this nonsense.

Mallon has also indicated that he would like to stand for election to Parliament. Given his track record as mayor, I suspect he will lose his deposit should he decide to stand.

The PCC’s, who are to be elected this Thursday, have failed to fire people’s political imaginations. I expect the turnout will be less than 25%. Anyone who is elected on such a low turnout will not have a mandate. The current system of Police Authorities works, why change it? The reason is obvious: the Tories wanted to politicize policing and they sincerely believe that their candidates have the edge over the others on account of the myth that the Conservatives are seen as the “party of law and order”. They’re cutting police numbers and closing police stations. At this moment in time, they’re hardly the coppers’ best friend.

It seems for all the warm words of Nu Labour and Tory politicians, most of the British public has seen through the democracy sham and turned their backs on these pointless elections. Good.

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