Thus, the British Conservatives lost a midterm by-election. Big deal. Not so long ago, it seems that such a result outside of a general election was considered normal. This time the event was caused by the resignation of Owen Patterson amid his own financial scandals and others. In this light, the outcome of the elections is hardly surprising.
Is this the end of Boris Johnson’s mandate? Probably, but maybe it shouldn’t be.
So let me give the Prime Minister some advice, assuming he’s still in office at the start of the new year. It is this: take stock of the general social and political situation and announce publicly that you are in the process of setting up a multi-party study on the reform of the constitution.
I watch things from the Middle East and can hardly believe what I see from my home country. The same is true, I should add, for the European Union. Democracy is failing on a large scale.
As I read in British newspapers and hear on radio and television “…parliament is a joke”. Now I can’t agree with that because it’s not funny. It may be a black comedy for some but in my opinion a disaster in the making.
The UK has a prim “we are a democracy” attitude that is simply not the case. There are three key pillars of democracy: the monarchy and the Church, and Parliament, including the courts which carry out the decisions of Parliament. The media has also long been described as the fourth pillar.
The fact that Parliament has long since ceased to be truly effective has been clear for many decades. Corruption among its members, from all parties, is not new. I was personally involved in what became known as the “The Jeremy Thorpe Inquiry”. The fact that MPs were able to ignore or circumvent the principles of parliament should have been settled decades ago.
The monarchy has long been marginalized. The Church is no longer representative. The Queen, who is highly respected, is nominally represented by the House of Lords. The Lords are not a joke, they are a democratic scandal.
The enormous cost of the Lords is borne by taxpayers and is seen by most of us as a retirement bonus for the people politicians want to reward; something widely considered a form of corruption. The idea that someone who has excelled in a sport or other activity should be made a Lord and pontificate over legislation that affects us all has no essence of humor for most audiences.
Whether the Lords should become an elected senate involving all parts of the UK is largely public opinion.
The judicial system is hanging on but is largely not up to it. The failure of parliamentary democracy, to which the courts are technically and constitutionally subject, is a major factor. There are increasing reports of appalling activity from citizens who are not being dealt with effectively as they should be by the police and the courts. The judicial system is in an advanced phase of decline.
Then there is the media. If the effect of the media weren’t so bad for all of us, I could describe it as a joke, but it’s far from funny. Most people I know have stopped buying newspapers and many say they won’t watch the news on TV. How true that is, I have no way of knowing. Personally, I question everything I read and hear and basically don’t believe in it very much. The media are certainly no longer a pillar of democracy.
Social networks are a disaster for democracy. Headlines blame misinformed or malicious content for persuading people not to get a Covid shot. Few of the established media point out that torrents of lies are propagated under the guise of partisan politics.
The real joke, if there is one, is that the British Constitution was written on parchment in 1215. That a modern state should not have a properly up-to-date constitution, suitable for every citizen and readable, is simply shameful. .
That to establish whether someone is acting within the framework of the constitution requires a court order is rubbish. This has led to the abuse of people’s rights by corporations and allowed corporations to usurp the powers of government and enabled the exploitation of citizens’ rights.
On a topical note, at a time when the Home Secretary is asking EU citizens to continue to live in the UK, the media and all should note that citizens of the Republic of Ireland have automatically the right to live and vote in Britain. This has been declared discriminatory by the EU as it only applies to Irish EU citizens.
The agreement with the Republic of Ireland is a constitutional anomaly, dating back to the independence treaty. There is another way of looking at it: British citizens who do not have an Irish passport and cannot benefit from a reciprocity agreement are restricted when traveling in the EU because they do not have freedom of movement enjoyed by Irish passport holders living in the UK. It is surely discriminatory! Ireland is a member of the EU and is currently active in any situation that contributes to Irish unity.
Another disgrace is the lack of ID cards in the UK with name and ID number. A proper study might recommend copying other countries that require national passport holders to pay taxes in their home country, wherever they are in the world. Boris would understand this as he gave up his US passport for tax reasons. If you don’t want to pay UK tax, surrender your passport. The public would support this and the requirement that companies who charge them for products or services also pay tax in the UK.
A proper study should examine the outdated UK administration. The civil service has become politicized under previous governments and, whether or not that is the main factor, seems to have become incompetent in many respects.
What is needed, Boris, is a comprehensive reform of the British constitution. The common law is not enough in a modern society. Special interests, especially those running the established media, will oppose you, but you might as well come out on a high. On the other hand, it might save you. Either way, you might go down in history on a positive note.
Before signing up to enjoy the sun in peace until the end of the New Year holidays, I must say that all of the above applies to the European Union. So Twitter lunatics, please stop talking about Brexit. It’s finish.
The Real Deal will return on January 8 – next year.
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