Saturday, 9 August 2008

Democracies fickle friends

. I am currently involved in something of a debate on Liberal Democrat Voice. It was all started by Norman Baker's proposals to scrap the oath of allegiance. Let's be perfectly clear; MP's allegiance is and always should be to the people that elect them, to represent them and their interests. It should never be to an unelected head of state who only represents the interests of one tawdry, over-mighty and over-endowed with wealth and power, family.

It is a total misconception to see the monarchy as 'purely ceremonial'. Powers undemocratically reserved to the monarch are either held in reserve in case of the establishment needing to protect itself or are undemocratically exercised by the government of the day through the privy council. What is more it is the source from which the entire form of government flows; including things like the electoral system which we as a party are committed to the radical overhaul of; so supporting this form of state and our stance on other questions are totally incompatible and a model of inconsistent democracy.

Jennie Rigg contends that "democracy is a means to an end". This is a fundamentally flawed approach. The question that begs itself is what end?? I am happy to say democracy is an end in itself; the end being the empowerment and liberation of the people. She raises the canard of the majority being in favour of the restriction of civil liberties. Because the House of Lords have a better stance on the Commons majority (not a big majority) this is seen as proof positive that the current system needs to be in place. It can only be said that these kinds of arguments are made by people who feel that their argument is so weak that the people can never be won around. As such it is a counsel of utter despair and desperation.

Historically speaking liberalism springs from that radical milieu that pushed the frontiers of democracy forward. This should always be it's guiding spirit. We need to challenge not just the trappings of a fundamentally flawed democracy but it's entire structure. Such an approach would have many positive spin-offs not least the beginnings of a reinvigoration of peoples interest and participation in politics as a whole. It would challenge a culture in which people are prepared to accept the erosion of civil liberties and roll back those restrictions. In short what we need is a programme that rediscovers that radical spirit and once again pushes democracy and Britain forward.

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