Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Petitioning Government

"To make good citizens. And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.
H.L. Mencken
(For 'citizens' read 'MPs' and for 'schools' read 'Parliament'!)

So the Coalition has announced that the on-line petition plan for Parliament is to be introduced, although the actual details are, as yet, unclear. This idea is being hailed as a great step forward for democracy - that it brings the people closer to the decision-making process, which is utter rubbish of course.

Regular readers will be aware that I frequently refer to the state of 'democratised dictatorship' under which I maintain we now live - and this is confirmed by this statement in a post from John Redwood, writing about the EU Budget vote in the HoC:
"The last time this matter came up only 42 of us voted against the EU budget, on the grounds that it was too wasteful and expensive. All three main political parties advised their MPs to vote for it, and most did."
Do note the last sentence, because whilst MPs continue to act as their party wishes, rather than how their constituents wish, democracy per se is dead.

On the subject of 'democracy being dead' - and it is already - it will be the government-of-the-day which will decide those petitions worthy of debate, a matter which yet again illustrates the 'dictatorship' aspect of our present democratic system. This idea of petitioning Parliament is open to so much farcical abuse that it is unworkable. Consider a petition is presented with 2 million signatures for, as an example, restoration of the death penalty. Under the proposals this would then be presented to Parliament as a Bill - assuming of course that the decision had been taken to even 'allow' it to go forward. MPs then debate this and promptly vote as instructed by their Whips - and it is then defeated. And the purpose of the entire exercise was? In any event, such a bill as restoration of the death penalty could never be enacted whilst this country remains a member of the European Union.

Yet another example of this pointless exercise is the famous example where 1.8 million people voted against Tony Blair's suggestion for road pricing. With the idea 'abandoned' this was hailed as a victory for 'people power', but the important point was missed by, I suspect, the majority of those voting and the media - the latter being either unaware or, more likely, choosing not to mention it. Under Article 4.2(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), transport is a shared competence between the EU and Member States. If the EU wish to bring in road pricing - which they surely will as it is one of the funding streams for their Galileo Project - we, the people of this country, can petition and pass Acts of Parliament on road pricing to our hearts content, but to no avail.

In any event, it would appear the opinion that our elected representatives have of the people has been summed up by Paul Flynn, who is quoted in the BBC report stating:
"The blogosphere is not an area that is open to sensible debate; it is dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward."
That statement begs to be challenged. Which is the more crazy idea: 42 days detention or the smoking ban compared to a petition for Jeremy Clarkson to be made Prime Minister? At this point I am unable to resist a small 'digress': Parliament is presently filled with people of comedic characteristics, so why not some petitions of comedic nature? Returning to a more serious level, just why does Flynn despair that the blogosphere is dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical - who is he to say that the blogosphere is obsessed and fanatical when Parliament is also filled with the obsessed and fanatical, witness the zeal with which all three parties remain zealous to maintain our membership of the EU - might it not be due to the fact that our elected representatives are deaf to the demands of those that employ them? 

Ramifications of this 'petitions policy' have obviously not been 'thought through' because if governments-of-the-day continue to ignore the wishes of the people - either by dismissing' petitions considered 'unacceptable', or 'allowing' petitions with sufficient signatures to be debated as proposed Bills, during which MPs debate and then vote according to party lines thus defeating the proposal - eventually the people will take to the streets. And when 2/3 million (or more) take to the streets and coerce into a well organised force - starting a revolution - how will the police cope? They won't, so then the army gets called in - and are the army actually going to open fire on their own people? Some may say that that idea is far-fetched, to which I say: go read your history books!

With the Coalition policy - and that of Labour's, too - for further integration into the EU state, this 'petitions policy' is no more than a ploy to present a facade of democracy - as was the creation of the European Parliament. With hindsight, unfortunately the future foreseen in the preceding paragraph will probably never occur, neither will the people realise that this 'petitions policy' is meaningless, because the people are 'politically dead'. Their brains have been numbed by a diet of 'pap' provided by television and newspapers, thus diverting their attention from what are far more important topics.

Paraphrasing Mark Antony in Julius Ceasar, David Cameron - and the rest of our political elite - have indeed appeared on the scene to bury the people. What I can only hope is that the people may, eventually, come to their senses and decide:
"The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with the political elite

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