The following was written by @mikeypie12
Welcome to the End…
I recently attended the TUC rally in Manchester, where I was interviewed twice. By both radio and the BBC. The BBC asked why I was protesting, to which I replied that, “I don’t support the criminalisation of workers.” This was followed subsequently by the interviewer asserting, “The (Tories) won the last election and we had our chance to vote them out.” I responded that, “76% didn’t vote for them… but that is the sytem. Also, to my knowledge (and please correct me if I’m wrong) there wasn’t anything in the Conservative manifesto which they campaigned on in the last election about anti trade-union bills, so they didn’t even get a mandate for it from the 24% who voted for them.” He looked at me unimpressed. Such was the implication that I should be perhaps questioning the legitimacy of a government and that I am not all too enamoured with the BBC’s interpretation of democracy that I didn’t make the cut and my TV debut must wait.
I have long-held a fascination with the absurdity of the British parliamentary and electoral system. Some of which I have already mentioned in previous articles on PoliticalSift. I maintain that it is somewhat bizarre that a party who 76% of the population dislike, judging by Manchester possibly a strong percentage, actively. Who are elected based on perhaps a couple of spurious issues – or even theoretically just because of a split in the vote between more popular parties who have campaigned on more popular yet strikingly similar platforms.
Such is the system.
That they should then be able to pass bills on anything they please, which in turn then move through an unelected legislature to be ultimately signed off by an unelected sovereign – a position which is not open to anyone else in the land that wasn’t born within the confines of one family with Royal prerogative is not something I can say is aspirational as far as having a healthy, democratic society goes.
A few days back, I read an article on the BBC website regarding the privy council and the cabinet. This was following Jeremy Corbyn’s latest outrageous snub of Queen Liz. There was a line that grabbed my attention. Mostly for how misleading and incorrect it was. I quote, “In legal terms, the Cabinet is a committee of the Privy Council.” A line that would likely not so much as raise an eyebrow amongst many of the most staunch republicans or detractors. For, we simply accept the cabinet, as do we most things in regards to our political system.
Infact, the cabinet has no legal jurisdiction to exist. The British Constitution is historically made up of laws, statutes, court judgements, treaties and the like. Then seperately, there are those things which are not not enshrined as law, and are infact unwritten. They are constitutional conventions. Cabinet falls into this category. This may come as a surprise given the cabinet’s preeminence and power they exist over the nation, that the cabinet who preside over our lives have no legal authority. Interestingly, a gentleman who I fear I may have been far too quickly dismissive of (apologies @Zulubus), stated amidst my pondering over this that, “(The) UK has no official Constitution, but a collection of documents referred to as the constitution.” Infact, I do believe he was referring to the UK constitution, not being an all encompassing document such as we associate with the US. In my haste, I didn’t really consider the implications of this, and what is likely greatly significant in how the British constitution has maintained longevity.
Unlike the US constitution which can be summoned in its entirety from a quick google search. The strength of British constitutionalism is in its arbitrariness. There can be quite easily obfuscation between a law and a convention when there should be a distinction. This is the least of it. Whilst a person so inclined could pick up the US constitution in its abiding form and rebuke it point by point, the same can not be said for the British. The arbitrary nature of it provides both enough flexibility that it should not be broken, and enough strength that it should not yield beyond firmly maintaining the interests of the status quo. This kind of robustness is what Lebanese-American writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb would describe as antifragile. “Simply, antifragility is defined as a convex response to a stressor or source of harm (for some range of variation), leading to a positive sensitivity to increase in volatility (or variability, stress, dispersion of outcomes, or uncertainty, what is grouped under the designation “disorder cluster”). Likewise fragility is defined as a concave sensitivity to stressors, leading a negative sensitivity to increase in volatility. ” Said he, not so simply.
We see the difficulties of achieving a healthy, equal and thriving democratic society and why so many progressive parliamentarians have failed at this hurdle. When the basic principles of what we consider to be our democracy seem open enough as to be compatible, yet are so closed as to be irreconcilable.
As long as the constitution exists in its long-held present form, which serves only the vested interests of those it is intended to serve, supported by a media that would make Stalin proud.
True democracy, and the ability of people to have a sovereignty over their own lives and affairs. With the ability for working people to aspire and reach their greatest potential and fulfilment within this nation, for both men and women, free of the petty differences of class created by those seeking to further their own interests at the expense of others. In full respect of their human rights, civil liberties, given full equal opportunities ensured for any race, creed, sexual preference, believer and non-believer alike, shall always remain out of reach as long as this centralised top-down abomination exists.
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