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Dan Ehrlich

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UK Democracy: A Semantic Ambiguity on Bad Government

Posted: 17/10/2013 13:37

Gradually the British people are wising up to the reality that the democracy here is an illusion, one created by the political establishment to maintain the status quo, that being the rich get richer and the poor become poorer... except now, economic upturn or no, there are a lot more poor people.

They now realize no matter which party they elect it's a long-odds gamble that their desires will be met. And it's a certainty that the opposition will make similar promises if they are returned to power.

The long promised European Union referendum is a good example of this betrayal...of a failure of democracy. Labour first hinted at a referendum on this issue.

Opinion polls since show a majority of Brits want to leave the EU and an even greater majority want at least a re negotiation of the UK's membership.http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3667906.ece

Democracy means power in the hands of the people. In large societies this power is handled by elected representatives. Now, however, these representatives are not doing what the people want. They're deathly worried that leaving the EU would leave the UK in economic ruins. This could be...but I doubt it. Still, not doing the public's will is undemocratic.

Sink or swim, in a democracy it's the people who decide. That's why democracy, in itself, it not synonymous with good government or freedom and human rights.

Here the politicians' rationale usually revolves around the view that the voters aren't intelligent enough to have their wishes taken seriously.

Well, PM David Cameron has promised to make good on the referendum, but only after his government is re-elected, a cynical carrot and stick ploy given the years the issue has been on the table. And many voters don't trust him to keep his word.

What makes democracy here a farce is that Labour, which initially brought up the Europe vote, now isn't in favour of the poll. And the sinking Liberal Democrats, who have always been strong EU membership advocates, say democracy be damned, we want to stay in the Union no matter what the people say.

Now the talking point has moved to the cost of living, of which the UK has one of the highest. Labour wants to put a cap on utility bills while the Tories say they want to cap train fares.

The problems here are two-fold. Train and utility bills are already way too high for many people to afford. This is largely due to the Tory privatization of public transport and utilities in the 70's and 80's, which replaced the inefficiency of government control with the unbridled greed of capitalism. Now some key privatized industries have been sold to foreign interests.

In the end, the voters have no real choice which is needed for a true democracy. On the other hand this isn't a dictatorship because no one party or person has an unelected permanent lock on power. Then what is it? Some people have forgotten, first and foremost this is a kingdom, or in the present case a "queendom." As a friend told me, "People here are too laid back about all this stuff. They aren't moved to do anything." That's not exactly true everything from mass demonstrations to riots prove.

What can the voters legally do? Enter UKIP stage right...the party feared by all others because it could restore a measure of democracy to the nation. That's right, whether you think it's a party of nutters, right wing racists or just old school Tories, UKIP could restore a semblance of genuine democracy here.

UKIP, pledged to get the UK out of the EU, could knock the effete Lib/Dems out of third place and in a close election could form a coalition with either the Tories or Labour on grounds of holding an immediate EU referendum.

This means the Big Two would have to make an even bigger choice, to either give in to UKIP demands or lose power. The very real possibility of a minority government could evolve if a either the Labour or Tory coalition partner reneged on the agreement. Of course, since UK politics can be so duplicitous, there could be a scenario where UKIP double crosses the voters by stalling the referendum to remain in power.

If the UKIP challenge falls short and peters-out, I can see an uncertain hand-to-mouth future for the UK with a growing population and welfare bill, yet without all the jobs needed to get people off of welfare. The laid-back population may once again take to the streets as they did during the Thatcher poll tax riots. But, such action will only play into the hands of authoritarian politicians claiming only draconian powers can save the democracy.

As the rich-poor gap increases so does the gap increase between government and the governed.

 

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