WHO PUT THE DEMOS IN DEMOCRACY?

(That’s “demoss” not “demoes”. Just saying.)

Fear not – the Disaster Chronicles will be back, but for now – let’s consider democracy in 2019. Particularly in increasingly not-so-Great Britain. It is in meltdown, but – why? And now what?

Have to quote Winston again – a bit samey, but he’s the go-to guy when something is needed to hit the nail on the head. ‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time …”

The word has its origins in ancient Greek, as I am sure you know: “demos”, the people. But, at the time, not just any people, and certainly not all people. To be eligible to vote back then, you had to meet some minimal qualifications in terms of property, education, experience. Over time, this became a universal franchise as it is called, meaning that, with a few exceptions involving age, jailbirds, peers and the certified insane, modern democracy does mean all people and any people. Churchill knew this, and quietly despaired.

But I don’t think that even Churchill could have foreseen the extent to which this “worst form of government” could become even worse; abused, twisted, defaced in the hands of people whose only interest is in themselves, having banished any idea of service to … anyone. First, manipulate the people, then manipulate the results of that manipulation. Thus – referendums, first-past-the-post elections, bare majorities. And political parties, now the engines of un-democracy. All made so much easier for them in Britain with the almost invisible requirements of a constitution which has become not worth the paper it is not written on.

Too late now, to unscramble the rancid eggs which constitute the omelette of our system of so-called representative government. That now reeking omelette has to be binned, and a new one created – but there’s no getting away from having to use all and any eggs. The new arrangements will have to start with accepting, however reluctantly some of us may do so, that the universal voting principle is here to stay. But how the resulting votes are influenced, cast and counted; how the results can be made to reflect fairness, checks and balances; how self-serving charlatans can be kept at bay – that’s where a new start has to be made.

Can this happen? Or is the British system so cemented into the national psyche that we may as well just throw our hands in the air, and accept our third-rate system, accept that we are eternally to be governed by people never fit to do so; accept our abysmal standing in the world? I hope not. Which is why I have written “The Party’s Over” – not just a full-on attack on party politics (it is) but a heart-felt series of proposals that will give us a new system of trusted representation in a respected Parliament and government.

It will be available on Kindle any day now. Please read it.