Information for British constituents with an interest in establishing participatory democracy and freedom from corrupt representation, factional impositions and unjust settlements
|Introduction|Recent recent significant review and proposals for electoral reformIn 2006, the Power Commission, Chaired by Helena Kennedy, published its report, "Power - To the People". This laid out the reasons for the malaise in British politics and democracy marked by low election turnouts and a falling confidence in the effectiveness of political parties and democracy in general. This report also made a range of sound proposals for electoral reform.
In spite of the considerable amount of work and comprehensive range of people consulted in the production of this Report, the government (Labour) paid scant attention to it. Likewise, the opposition (Conservatives) made little comment and ignored it. As a result, the implicit hope that the political parties would rise to the occasion of considering and advocating for the changes proposed so that governments would introduce them was actively frustrated by the political parties themselves; no such change took place.
Parties are not the solution, they are the problem
The constitutional economist, Hector McNeill explained the dynamics of why neither political party acted on this outstanding report. The Power Commission, having carried out its deliberations within the existing framework dominated by political parties, seemed to misunderstand the significant difference in the motivations and objectives of political party members, on the one hand, and the "party machines", on the other. In terms of party machines, there is a dynamic of power interests whereby small factional interests control the agendas of political parties through the provision of funds. These same benefactors have a significant influence over the UK corporate media, therefore political parties are caught between serving the majority through participatory democracy or serving the interests of their factional benefactors so as to avoid election defeat at the hands of a hostile media.
The reason this corrupt system remains in operation is because of the inexpressive memberships of all British political parties. In total, the membership of all political parties does not surpass 1.25% of the electorate. The main benefactors, whose interests the parties uphold, constitute a voting power of probably less than 0.1% of the electorate. Without a full exposure and an understanding of how party machines operate, reports such as the Power Report are bound to have less effect than they deserve. However, the way to liberate the people of Britain from this severe constraint to secure policies in the interests of the majority is to by-pass these tiny private factional political parties and organize a non-party but a wider spread participation in constituent assemblies on an individual basis at constituency and national levels.
In 2007, Hector McNeill published the book, "The Briton's Quest for Freedom ... Our unfinished journey", where he explained that the current party-based system is an aberration of the original proposals for English written constitutions. He drew attention to the fact that the early written constitutional documents in England in the 17th Century sought to avoid groupings of politicians into political parties because of the danger of reduced freedoms imposed by powerful minority factions gaining control of parties.
This is, indeed, the system now operating in Britain.
This is why the political party machines would strongly resist the introduction of the necessary legislation advocated in the Power Report because this would reduce their ability to control the agenda in favour of their minority factional benefactors. The default position of the majority of Members of Parliament is to support the "party line" since their future prospects depend upon the degree to which they adhere to this. At the same time, this also means they were, and remain, incapable of prioritizing efforts to resolve the issues affecting the majority.
In the "The Briton's Quest for Freedom", McNeill listed 49 specific decisions supported by political parties which constrained the freedoms of British constituents. In the final nine chapters, he set out a proposal, based on a "Minority Principle", on how British democracy could operate without political parties.
The first attempt at "politics without parties"
In 2009, Sir Paul Judge launched the Jury Team as the first attempt to launch an independent movement not aligned to any political party but rather aligned to constituency interests. The Jury Team had three over-riding principles:
- Government should be run for the benefit of the people and not for the benefit of any political party.
- Elected representatives should vote according to their view of what is best for the country and their constituents and not at the direction of a political party.
- Politicians should fully comply with the Nolan Principles of Public Life and have externally decided and transparent remuneration.
Judge's analysis and proposals covered much of the Power Commission's recommendations as well as the proposals outlined by McNeill, however, the "language", the semantics and the notion of "politics without parties"
is somewhat alien to the British electorate and the Jury Team initiative was not successful. Many consider the initiative to have lacked funding and, although the logic of the justifications for this approach in the Jury Team documentation was sound, media coverage was inadequate and purposely luke warm. An odd fact was that in order to participate in elections (General Election and EU Parliament) the Jury Team was required to register as a political party.The unacceptable state of affairs
John Adams worried that"... a division of the republic into two great parties … is to be dreaded as the great political evil."
This is exactly what has become the norm in the United States and the United Kingdom, and yet both countries constantly proclaim their status as examples of democracy.The cynical build up of expectations destined for disappointment
In basic terms, the main Conservative party benefactors are physical and financial asset holders, large corporations and financial sector and a small number of media owners, within this network, whose media dominate the mass opinion shaping business. Today there is a transition with opinion-shaping under increasing influence of big tech social media and independent media. In this dynamic the ability of the large tech companies to escape tax is an indication of the new dynamic of an extension of parties in government purchasing a positive image on behalf of the same political parties and benefactors as before. In this changing dynamic the Labour party under Keir Starmer is attempting to repeat the same tactic applied by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This was to convince the same set of benefactors that they are not a threat to their interests so as to maintain a neutral or friendly press and to increase their chances at winning an election. However, the result is that neither party can serve the interests of increased participatory democracy by introducing the types of proposals in the Power Report since this would cause them to lose control of the agenda of supporting the interests of the said benefactors.
As a result, promises made in manifestos, designed to win votes and legitimize the election results, expressed in terms of political party membership of parliament, are seldom enacted since this would upset benefactors. With larger majorities political parties become quite cavalier in their ability to ignore manifesto promises and to introduce new legislation, which the public has never had the opportunity to vote on. As a result of a factional benefactor power-by-proxy political parties we have an ineffective democracy that resists genuine participation of the constituents in policy formulation. There remains a constant cycle of expectations arising from electoral promises followed by disappointments in government as a result of their inevitable failure to deliver on the promises to the majority that "justified
" their election.The extent of extremism
Extremism is defined as the state of maintaining actions or beliefs that the majority of people consider to be unreasonable and unacceptable. Therefore, the persistence of tiny political parties in imposing policies and conditions that do not address the needs of the majority, is an act of extremism. This creates a confusion between good constituency MPs, many of whom are dedicated to their function assisting constituents with different types of problems, on the one hand, and the result of government
The idea that the expression of radical beliefs is a predictor to future acts of political violence has been a central tenet of counter-extremism over the last two decades. Not only has this imposed a duty upon doctors, lecturers and teachers to inform on the radical beliefs of their patients and students but, as this book argues, it is also a fundamentally flawed concept.
Informed by his own experience with the UK’s Prevent programme while teaching in a Muslim community, Rob Faure Walker explores the linguistic emergence of ‘extremism’ in political discourse and the potentially damaging generative effect of this language. Taking a new approach which combines critical discourse analysis with critical realism, this book shows how the fear of being labelled as an ‘extremist’ has resulted in counter-terrorism strategies which actually undermine moderating mechanisms in a democracy. Analysing the generative mechanisms by which the language of counter-extremism might actually promote violence, Faure Walker explains how understanding the potentially oppressive properties of language can help us transcend them. The result is an imminent critique of the most pernicious aspects of the global War on Terror, those that are embedded in our everyday language and political discourse. Drawing on the author’s own successful lobbying activities against counter-extremism, this book presents a model for how discourse analysis and critical realism can and should engage with the political and how this will affect meaningful change.
imposed national policies over which the dedicated constituency MPs have no freedom to oppose, on the other. This can result in good local constituency MPs being perceived to be supporters of injurious policy outcomes imposed by their party in government. Currently there is an increasing irritation with the outcomes of government decisions which have had impacts on health services, care of the elderly and infirm, as well as mental health provisions, with conditions exacerbated by inappropriate economic policies. Accordingly, no matter how dedicated an MP might be to constituency affairs, there is a perilous rift building up between some constituents and their local politicians who are, because of their party affiliation, being considered to be of the same "brand" as the government that is considered to be causing harm. One of the most clear examples has been the recent frustration caused by the removal of a supplement to Universal Credit. Between the time it was granted and the time of its removal there has been a substantial rise in inflation, which continues to rise, leading to hardship.
Part of the problem is that a government with a clear majority in parliament can, and does, ignore the opposition. In a somewhat cavalier manner, legislation is introduced and pushed through the legislative process with little reference to the electorate. There is no established requirement nor tradition for MPs to explain legislative proposals to their constituents or to gather opinions at the local level. This is because the party system, once of government is in place, considers such a participatory process to be unnecessary because the election result has provided them with a blank checkbook. Constituents are only important at the time of a general election. Therefore, no matter how dedicated an MP might be to resolving ad hoc individual constituent issues, the government backbenchers become associated with what, for many, can be perceived to be a dishonest process of stealth legislation. Stealth, because the full implications of the details and the cross relationships between bills remain hidden because they are not examined, explained or discussed in open forums. Lately, three such bills containing a range of provisions whose interpretation can be considered to be a potential threat to the freedoms of the electorate, include the Policing Bill which has passed through the House of Commons, the Elections Bill recently introduced, and the Home Secretary’s Nationality & Borders Bill published recently (see The assault on the demoncratic freedoms of the people of Britain
Although this manner of governance imposed by the party machine, with an eye on benefactor blessing, gains a fair press, at the same time it undermines the status and image of MPs who carry the government brand. The unfortunate reality is that MPs who recognise this problem and the dangers inherent in such a state of affairs, are in no position to do anything about this because they are not independent in relation to national policy decisions which affect the whole country. The dangers associated with this state of affairs is the impact of social media enabling misrepresentations and the build up of extreme frustration on the part of some and content that ends up with extreme actions, such as the murder of Jo Cox, the Labour Party MP for Batley and Spen, in 2016.
|The media misrepresentation business|
Besides the fact that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, this was the justification for a military invasion. The British media double down on maintaining their ability to feed misrepresentation and falsehoods concerning Middle Eastern conflicts to the constituency of the the United Kingdom and the world. This is largely designed to uphold government decisions linked to a policies of regime change or counter-terrorism, as being in the "right".
The most obvious example is the lack of admission by the media, including the BBC, that the so-called chemical weapons
attack in Douma in Syria was staged and yet used by the USA, UK and France to justify an attack on Syria "in response" (see The BBC’s road to Damascus…?
Following the invasion of Iraq supported by British MPs in parliament but based on misleading "evidence", the British political parties have been branded as having colluded on advancing violence in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria which has resulted in the murder to millions of citizens in the Middle East who were not guilty of any crime or acts of terrorism. Clearly those suffering under these campaigns see the government as responsible for such mass murder. The levels of destruction of infrastructure and normal provisions in these countries has resulted in massive increase in migration and asylum seekers to Europe and the UK as well as to acts of terrorism, directly linked to these past parliamentary decisions in favour of war, taking place in this country. When parties fail to exercise foresight and collude in supporting the solution to terrorism as lying soley in military action and consider "collateral damage", in the shape of the murder of millions of innocent men, women and children, as being an acceptable price to pay, there is an abandonment resonsible humane considerations and a demonstrative loss of rational control of the situation.Balancing constitutional and economic progressMuch of the analysis surrounding this topic of electoral reform and constituent representation concerns generalities about constitution while the discussion seldom dwells on specific policies. There is a general notion that political parties are useful because they establish the policy agendas and therefore they present the voter with a choice. The most important foundation to social progress and wellbeing is the management of the economy in terms of macroeconomics and the provision of an environment where all can pursue their objectives while not preventing others from pursuing theirs. Therefore, it is important to review to what extent the main political parties have in fact presented the electorate with genuine economic options.
The impacts of power-by-proxy
For many, the fact that our main political parties are proxies for minority factions is a confirmation that these tiny organizations are extremists. However, in order to evaluate the degree of this extremism, under the power-by-proxy political power regime , it is worth investigating to see if this is true. A test is to see if political parties impose the same policies no matter which party gains control of government. Such an analysis would establish if economic policies, and macroeconomic policy in particular, change with different party governments or whether they have remained the same.
A recent article by Hector McNeill, explains how the main political parties have resided over an increasing intensity of the very same macroeconomic policy for over 45 years leading to a hollowing out of the British economy. Both Labour and Conservative governments have contributed to the unacceptable level of income disparity which became very evident to the majority of constituents with the advent and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
|Healey's main policy changes|
In 1975 Healey introduced a budget that abandoned several Keynesian principles:
- Abandoned full employment as policy target
- Abandoned Keynesian fiscal stimulus of demand to target balance of payments
- Set cash limits on government programmes except social programmes
- Reduced public spending where deemed not to be unmeasurable beneficial
- Made income policy voluntary knowing the standard of living would fall
This all began in 1975 when the Labour Government, under the Chancellorship of Denis Healey, opted to abandon several Keynesian principles to embrace monetarism as a significant component of macroeconomic policy. This was in the face of slumpflation caused by the rapid rise in the international price of petroleum causing cost-push inflation. Seeking an IMF loan in 1976, Healey agreed to an intensification of the policies, which Labour had already introduced (see box on left), as a condition for the loan.
The role of monetarism and financialization has been intensified with each successive government no matter whether Labour or Conservative. This is because monetarism and financialization have become basic tenets of macroeconomic policy which benefit physical and financial asset holders, the main party beneficiaries and those who control corporate media.
The impact of this 45 year policy imposition has seen industries and their employment destroyed. This was accelerated as a result of investment flowing overseas, all in the name of "free trade" and "globalization" associated with falling investment in national supply side production and declining productivity. It is these policies which created the "rust belt" in the USA and the depressed regions of the previous industrial zones in the United Kingdom. Real wages have declined over the same period as a share of GDP while corporate profits have increased as a share of GDP. The economy has become highly dependent on imported produce as a negative balance of payments increases year on year. The ability of wage-earners to pay taxes as well as afford essentials is declining. On the other hand those who earn their income from transactions or the holding of physical and financial assets have seen their incomes rise significantly during this period.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, a testament to the removal of effective financial regulations by these same political parties, the Labour government, under the leadership of Gordon Brown, intensified the impact of financialization by introducing quantitative easing as a "temporary measure" plainly favouring the financial sector. The subsequent Conservative coalition and the Conservative governments to date, did not terminate quantitative easing but rather intensified its application as the driver of austerity. Here the process of slashing public services under the guise of repaying debt was made impossible by the rising debt generated by quantitative easing under a regime of close-to-zero interest rates.
In 1997, Gordon Brown's first Act as Chancellor, was to make the Bank of England "independent". He clearly failed to comprehend the constitutional consequences of such a reckless decision. By making the Bank of England independent he effectively privatized it, placing the balance of decisions in favour of the financial services sector and asset holders the main stakeholders, or constituency if you will, of the Bank of England. This resulted in a further intensification of quantitative easing on a permanent basis.
Bank of England independence also removed the Bank and monetary policy from oversight by the voters and Parliament and restricted decisions to a tiny committee.
Recent evidence at a Lords Economic Affairs review of quantitative easing resulted in a report questioning if quantitative easing had become a addiction by the Bank of England. Evidence presented included statements that quantitative easing is a policy with no theory, and therefore we can add, with no logic. This was confirmed, in part, by the Bank of England's own evidence admitting that they are still "learning" what the effects of quantitative easing are.
In an article on the Real Incomes Approach website and in a Charter House Essays in Political Economy document, Hector McNeill has set out why the theory of monetarism, encapsulated in the Quantity Theory of Money, is bereft of logic and, indeed, the formula is wrong. McNeill demonstrated that many critical variables that determine the impact of money volume rises are in fact missing from the QTM formula. As a result decisions based on the QTM activate mechanisms which drain funds from supply side production investment and into multiple speculative asset markets.
There is an undeniable bias in the structure of macroeconomic policies in their creation of a small number of winners, a majority of losers and those who, somehow, remain in an neutral policy impact state. However, the main beneficiaries are a very small number of voters while the majority are prejudiced by the same policies.
No matter which party has assumed control of government they have not offered alternative economic policies. The main reason is that political parties act to introduce policies that support the interests of their benefactors who constitute a factional minority while governments do not act in the interests of the majority of constituents.
The dynamics of participatory economic policy delivery
If the spirit of participatory policy formulation is extended to macroeconomic policy, there are difficulties associated with the fact that there is insufficient knowledge of the wide range of conditions of and facing companies and constituents. This so-called "knowledge and calculation problem" first raised by the economist Ludwig von Mises in 1920. This signifies that governments are unable to optimize their setting of interest rates, money supplies or tax rates. By setting centralized values they generate winners, losers and those who remain unaffected. On balance there are more losers than winners. As in the case of constituents being provided with the opportunity to identify and take decisions to resolve problems, so in the case for companies. There is a need for policies that help companies adapt to circumstances so as to maximize their chances of being successful in terms of survival, growth, achieving a competitive position, earn profits and paying compensatory wages.
Income disparity and the rising resistance to change
One of the most marked outcomes of 45 years of
monetarism and financialization has been the rising levels of income disparity. In particular the lower income segments have been pushed info poverty and essentially pauperism because they cannot survive without state support. State support is funded by taxation or government loans. Because of the high income disparity there is an increasing proportion of the population who cannot afford to pay any tax. This means the tax burden falls on middle income individuals. As this burden has increased there has been a natural trend of resistance to higher taxation. However the macroeconomic policies inevitably drive the pressure for taxation for the middle income segments upwards as a direct result of inappropriate macroeconomic policies in the shape of monetarism, financialization and quantitative easing.
As a result there is an increasing resistance to any changes involving rises in taxation.
Some basic steps in reversing this trend
The only way this trend can be reversed is to embark on a process of changes in macroeconomic policies that raise the average levels of wages or incomes while at the same time reducing disparity. To be clear, the objective here is to reduce the tax burden not by cutting back of public services, but rather by raising incomes so the requirement for specific public services, including those associated with income compensation, are reduced because of a decline in the need for such support.
In basic economic process terms this means that there needs to be a major transformation in the sector balance of the economy to emphasize supply side production of goods and services and a reduction in the weight of financial services. The way to grow supply side production of goods and services requires a transformation in the processes used in these sectors related to technologies, techniques and the development of human resources capabilities supported by training and a more relevant system of general education. General school education is the foundation of subsequent professional training. However, the country's educational system is far too academic at the expense of a more balanced mix of practical, technical and the associated logic linked to how to transform concepts and ideas into realities such as better decisions linked to every day life as well as the design and production of goods. This process can be aided by a reintroduction of a broader technical school system which combines the types of subjects taught in grammar, public schools and academies with better equipped schools possessing laboratories and workshops covering all of the common materials and basic processes applied in the economy. This could not only broaden the exposure of children and youth to a wider range of possible future interests it also equips them better for the world of work and life-long learning.
How political parties are preparing their strategy to counter politics without parties
|Increasing controls, increasing instability|
As political parties, who are imagined to be in opposition, collude in the imposition of harsh economic policies which cause hardship and frustration leading to protests. The typical government reaction is to bear down on possible social disturbances through harsher legislative controls. It is notable that both parties collude on such "solutions
" in the name of "law and order
This action only intensifies reactions on both sides and is not a solution to stability but rather creates a state of affairs of "the law provoking an increased likelihood of economic and social disorder
The ability of Jeremy Corbyn to transform the prospects of a Labour party on the basis of his campaigning style in 2017 and his ability to transform the budget of the party through small contributions as well as to attract members so as to make the party the largest socialist party in Europe, confirmed three important constitutional issues. One is that it is possible to generate mass support for positions and policies the majority desire and, the second, is that there is a desire for young people to participate and become more actively involved in the politics of change. Thirdly, if enough people participate, even modest financial contributions per head can result in very significant volumes of financial support. Notably and paradoxically, the Power Report had noted these facts.
However, this ability to motivate large numbers of people to become involved in politics within such a short period, has become a matter of concern for those wishing to uphold the corrupt power-by-proxy political party system. As a result the Conservative government, with Labour support, has been bringing forwards a series of legislative proposals that point to a view that mass movements threaten to give rise to extremism. These Acts include, the Policing Bill, the Elections Bill and the Nationality & Borders Bill. There is a confusion of mass movements wishing to agitate with mass participation on politics wishing to improve the system as a realization of the full potential of universal suffrage. One of the false logics being considered is to classify the preparatory work in establishing mass participation, as election campaigning as a way to limit the time periods over which such activities can take place. It is evident that any more obvious organizing groups risk becoming the object of surveillance, justified on the basis of countering extremism or even terrorism.
For the politicians involved in managing the factional power-by-proxy political parties, the world is a hostile environment which needs to managed through deceit rather than through the enactment of policies that help the population become freer of policy-induced constraints or being misled and disappointed by repetitive failure to deliver election promises. Their corrupt representation, factional impositions and unjust settlements only spread and intensify, over time, a state of frustration, rising discontentment and justified cynicism and misery. This builds up a self-imposed paranoia on the part of the administrators of party machines as a result of their own unjust actions. They deny any such fault and they become increasingly suspicious of what is good intent of those seeking a more representative democracy and as a result they intensify their plans to impose harsh treatment, even on those who seek change by peaceful means. We are at the threshold in time of increasing extremism, emanating from our main political parties who wish to guarantee their survival and the power-by-proxy system.
It is time for a politics without parties!!
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