Tag Archives: democracy

Radical democracy

Democracy.

The word democracy comes from te Greek words ‘demos’ and ‘kratia’- rule by the people. Are we ruled by the people? Do we have a say in what our state does?

We are not a democracy, we are a country ran by the rich! A member of parliament gets £66,000 a year, a second home payed for, a grocery allowance- is this fair? This is capitalism: the rich rule, while the poor get to decide which rich man to vote in every four or five years.

So how do we fix this problem? What we require is a Workers state (my friend Leon will disagree with me here!) ran through real democracy, that will genuinely represent the interests of the people. Here is what I propose:

1) Local decisions decided through direct, participatory democracy.

2) Delegates to be elected to represent the area at a regional/national level.

3) Delegates to be revocable through majority vote and accountable.

4) No delegate to receive more than the average wage of a skilled worker, or receive any special privileges.

Since all delegates will be proletarian, not bourgeois like today, they will serve proletarian class interests. If a delegate does not do what he/she said they would do, they can be voted out.
Anyone could become a delegate with enough popular support, it wont be left for the Etonians and public schoolers like it is under capitalism.

The leadership has failed. Even so, the leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built.

Rosa Luxemburg

UK; Big business and democracy

By Leon J Williams

If you asked someone on any street in the UK ‘What is the City Remembrancer?’ What do you think they would say?

I may be underestimating my fellow countrymen but I reckon the vast majority wouldn’t have a clue.

The ‘City Remembrancer’ is a title given to the only unelected person allowed to sit in the House of Commons.

This person is a representative of the ‘Corporation of London’ (the City) whose interests are, of course, the interests of Banking and the financial sector.

The UK, who eternally criticise the European Union (EU) for a lack of democracy should first make sure that their House is in order first (pun intended).

Remove the City Remembrancer, The House of Lords, the monarchy and anything else that is not elected by the people, for the people!

The Greens had this to say:

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has written to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, asking him to consider removing the City Remembrancer from the floor of the House of Commons, and to end the Remembrancer’s special privileges in viewing legislation as it is being drafted.

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, said: “The fact that the City Remembrancer is the only non-MP allowed on the floor of the House of Commons is an historical anachronism*. The presence of the City Remembrancer on the floor of the House of Commons, gives the Corporation of the City of London and, by association, the financial industries, what seems to amount to an undue and undemocratic level of access and representation. No other industry or body has such special access to Parliament.”

The House of Commons library has advised that the rules on access to the Chamber are not a matter of legislation, but under the control of the Speaker.

Natalie noted that the London City elections took place last week, and the votes of the 9,000 were dwarfed, as always, by the 32,000-strong business vote, and that a survey by Bloomberg had shown how unrepresentative the business vote was of the workers, its alleged reason for existing. **

Natalie continued: I’d like to see the Remembrancer excluded from the Commons, as a highly symbolic act that would signal Parliament’s independence from the Corporation and all it represents.

Ms. Bennett added: “The Green Party has been leading the way on campaigning to rein-in the powers of the City of London. It was Labour Party policy until Tony Blair reversed it just before 1997, it has been Lib Dem policy in the past.

“The strength of the arguments for ending this feudal anachronism and bring the City of London within the framework of London – together with the large nestegg of the City Cash, which could be put to the benefit of the people of London rather than the global financial industries – have been clear for more than a century***.

“Removing the Remembrancer from Parliament would be a real start on this process.”

*This dates back to 1571.

** http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-25/sexism-in-the-city-of-london-as-men-rule-in-elections.html

*** Since a Royal Commission that reported in 1894.

Daily Headline – 11/04/13

Tory donors switching to Ukip

The Electoral Commission UKThe Guardian has an interesting article today about Tory donors giving large and small sums of money to UKIP for them to fight the upcoming local elections that takes place on the 2nd of May.

Elections will be held in 35 English councils, including all 27 non-metropolitan county councils and eight unitary authorities, and to a single Welsh unitary authority. Direct mayoral elections will take place in Doncaster and North Tyneside. A total of 2,362 seats will be contested.

From the Guardian:

Stuart Wheeler, the gambling tycoon in charge of Ukip’s funds, said former Tory backers had promised big donations for next year’s European elections. Some had already made smaller donations that would contribute towards the £200,000 to be spent on advertising in local elections over the next few weeks, he said

Wheeler, who himself gave more than £5.5m to the Conservatives before being expelled from the party three years ago, said Ukip was taking the local elections seriously while aiming for a bigger push in the 2014 European elections.

“Some of [our new donors] were Conservatives but many are unwilling to go public. Any donation of more than £7,500 has to go on the electoral commission website. Quite a few give us exactly £7,500 because they don’t want [their identities] to be known,” he said.

UKIP, by big business, for big business.

In the latest opinion polls:

YouGov: CON 33%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 10%
TNS-BMRB:  CON 25%, LAB 40%, LD 10%, UKIP 14%

Not sure who you can vote for? Click here to see the list and click details for who is standing. For example I chose the first available on the list Cambridgeshire County Council which has the following parties standing:

Conservative
Liberal Democrat
Labour
UKIP
Green
English Democrats
TUSC
Monster Raving Loony
Independent
Cambridge Socialists

Cambridgeshire County Council is divided into 60 ‘electoral divisions’ and not all parties listed above are standing in all of the electoral divisions.

Disappointing to see in the Romsey electoral division of Cambridgeshire that Cambridge Socialists are standing against the Greens but glad that TUSC is not standing against   Cambridge Socialists or the Greens in any of the divisions.

Good luck to the three of them, Greens, TUSC and Cambridge Socialists.

Daily Headline – 12/03/13

Falklands vote to remain British

Falkland Islands flagThe Falkland islanders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of remaining British, only 3 people voted otherwise.

The UK government has told Argentina to take note of the outcome and respect the wishes of the islanders.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has said that the referendum and its outcome has no legal validity.

Do governments ever respect the wishes of the people? And with the outcome of the vote already a sure thing for the UK it does make one wonder what the UK would have done had the residents voted to be Argentine, would the UK have just said ok, no problem?

Anger and Courage • Scottish Green Party

By Karine Polwart

Scottish Green Party

Thursday night. BBC Question Time is on telly. I’m venting a week’s worth of rage on Twitter, while nursing a tumbler of special offer white wine.

A panellist asks: “Do we want to be a self-governing, democratic nation that determines her own destiny?” I shudder. The questioner is UKIP leader, Nigel Farage.

It matters who asks this question, and why. For while self-governance is grand as a principle, what matters are the values, aspirations and concrete policies implied in the “destiny” bit, how the new “we” that political independence would create would do things differently.

Destiny begs questions about what any self-governing nation might look like, whether it’s UKIP’s increasingly (terrifying) popular vision of the UK or my version of Scotland. Would we fund free universal care for the elderly from progressive taxation or leave it to insurance companies? Do we want to spend £250 million from the annual Scottish economy on morally repugnant, illegal weapons of mass destruction; or might we imagine some more transformative use for this cash? Would we prosecute those responsible for the rigging of financial systems that have been mis-sold to us as impartial arbiters of what’s best for us?

The fashion within the broad Yes campaign alliance is to personify cheery well-educated niceness. In order to assuage the genuine fear of escalating hardship under Westminster-style austerity, Yes emphasises that we will be “better off” and achieve “success” and “growth” from our “human and environmental assets”.

This foregrounded Yes focuses on what would be continuous in a transition from devolution to independence: a sound Scottish parliamentary system (I’m reassured by what this has achieved in 14 years), elected by means of proportional representation (my Green vote counts), which determines policy relevant to front-room stuff – schools, hospitals, care for the vulnerable (a degree of distinctive vision thus far, in my opinion).

It’s backed up by Scotland the Brand, an all-in-one package of stability, stoutness and invention, starring entrepreneurs and creative businesses. And while there’s the questionable status of our North Sea oil and gas share, we have a vast reserve of wind, wave and water, coupled with an inventive engineering culture, which might underpin a future world-leading renewables industry.

Heck, there are official statistics about our impressive tax contribution to the UK and our less than average share of national UK debt. Weighty projections regarding Scottish economic resilience are available. And only this past week, the Fiscal Working Group, on behalf of the Scottish Government, suggested an independent Scotland should stick with sterling, reign in its tax and spend ambitions and create “a workable blend of autonomy, cohesion and continuity”.

Yet this proffering of safe, prudential hands has failed to impress the majority of us so far.

The Yes story here is “Dinnae Be Feart”. Scotland won’t be that different post-independence, just a mite more prosperous, and self-determinedly “Scottish”. The Yes Scotland website reassures that “on Day 1, an independent Scotland will look pretty much as it does today”.

Let me declare that this endlessly reiterated sameness scares me. For while my hoped-for Day 1 independent Scotland might look the same as it does now and should utilise, sensibly, existing infrastructure, I’m horrified by a Scottish version of business-as-usual. It’s the opportunity for, and the realistic possibility of, something radically and ethically different to the UK political status quo that gets me ranting at the TV.

Every time I witness Nigel Farage, or a member of our elected Westminster government, on TV, I sense not just that my core values and priorities don’t count at UK level, but that they’re in imminent danger of evisceration. If I thought that Arbroath, Hawick and Ballachulish were filled with Farages and Camerons then, to be honest, I’d stick with things as they are. What would be the point in change?

Without purpose (what’s prosperity for? whose prosperity is it?), we swallow the myth, perfected in the culture of Westminster and the City of London, that more cash in our pockets alone will nudge us off the couch. That, right there, is the core of my growing everyday anger at our UK-wide economic and political system.

What sparks me is the “fairer, greener” bit of the Yes campaign, the possibility of reconfiguring our connection with Scotland as a place in ways that go beyond a new era of profitable industrial exploitation of human or environmental resources. Right now, core values-based thinking is buried in a media mire of legalistic debate that makes all but the most politically hardcore of us want to make a cup of tea during the evening news.

What interests me, is not whether Scotland will be automatically, certainly, admitted to various trans-national alliances. It’s that we appear, as a nation, to place the utmost value on inter-dependence and international community, not just tactically, or in pursuit of trade, but existentially, and as a matter of principle. UKIP’s independence vision doesn’t have the same ring.

We are “better together”, dammit. Togetherness rules my life – in the back of tour transit vans, in feminist collectives, volleyball teams, malt-soaked singing in the Royal Oak, communities of philosophical inquiry and village toddler group lunches.

I am quietly enraged that the campaign to maintain this extant model of political union between nations, the United Kingdom, is cornering the market in perceived togetherness. I won’t have it. I won’t have it, specifically, because it’s a belief in the possibility, integrity and global urgency of more well-founded and clearly articulated togetherness, more “us” and less “me”, care and compassion and ecological stewardship, that drives me towards a Yes vote for Scottish independence. The spurious togetherness that the UK has become is rooted in the normalisation, and institutionalisation, of selfishness, greed, corruption and disregard (Libor, RBS, Staffordshire Hospital Trust).

Scottish self-determination alone does not preclude this horrific stuff. There is too much here which reeks of human despair and indignity. I heed Gerry Hassan’s warning to be wary of a smug, uncritical belief in “the story of Scotland’s ‘Good Society’”. But our repeated overwhelming collective vote for broadly communitarian parties and policies is not without ethical ground.

Telling stories is my life. Stories are not mere mirrors. They are not necessarily true in equal measure to their accuracy in reflecting how things are. They speak to hope too. And they have power in their ability to activate, to move, to inspire us towards what might, should, or must be. That is, also, their truth.

The story of Scotland’s good society hooks me in at a fundamental level. That’s why I’m forgiving about the institutional minutiae. If I felt the institution of the UK shared my core values then self-determination in that context would be enough. If I thought a People’s Republic of Pathhead was necessary I’d be there on Main Street with a placard. An independent Scotland seems, simply, like a reasonable prospect to me. And Scotland already exists.

St Augustine is said to have written: “Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are Anger and Courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be.”

Let the Yes campaign be positive and hopeful, yes. But let’s allow it to be, where it needs to be, angry and bold too, please. And let’s harness more imagination to the urgent transformative telling of better stories about how we want to live.

Blogs • Scottish Green Party.

Daily Headline – 31/01/13

“Should Scotland be an independent country: yes/no?”

EU British Scottish flagThat is the question that will be put to the people of Scotland next year when they have their referendum on independence.

The Scottish people have democratically elected a leader (Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party) though he is limited in what he can do as the majority or laws (and all the major ones) come from London by a party elected by the English.

Scotland’s population: 5.5 million
England’s population: 53 million
Wales’ population: 3 million

So really it doesn’t matter who Scotland and Wales vote for because they will never be in a position to have the leaders they want while ‘Britain’ remains. No real democracy.

Ironically this situation is uncannily like Britain’s unhappy relationship with the European Union (EU), Britain wants out because it can’t have a loud enough say it what goes on and has to implement EU laws, just like Scotland has to implement England’s laws (mostly anyway, Scotland, like England have opt-out options with Britain and the EU respectively).

The English people want independence from the EU but they don’t want Scotland to have independence from them. In typical English style they want to have their cake and eat it.