Representative Democracy: The disengaged

Four in 10 people are “alienated” from  Britain’s political parties and say they will not consider voting for any of them, according to new research that is reported by the Independent.  It is an interesting article that is worth a couple of minutes of your time to read.

The problem with the article is that it drifts off into the realm of fantasy when it goes on to tell readers that, although the polling carried out by TNS-BRMB does not mean people are apathetic about politics,  the Committee on Standards in Public Life which commissioned it believes the findings pose worrying questions about the future of democracy in Britain, maintaining the illusion that we actually have democracy in this country.

Lord Bew, who chairs the committee, said the growth in the size of this group over the last 10 years represents a real challenge to politicians, parties, local organisations and community groups to provide the public with a sufficiently attractive and relevant set of options to choose from.

This is where the lack of understanding about how this country is governed, and by whom, is utterly exposed.  The politicians, parties, local organisations and community groups cannot provide the public with attractive and relevant options to choose from because they do not govern the country, the EU does. This is why we have meaningless posturing, endless broken promises that could never be kept, fights over narrow meaningless matters and soundbite politics, instead of genuine choices and real change when people want it.  This needs to be repeated over and over until people understand it.

British politicians do not run Britain.  This is why no matter who is elected in this country, on the substantive issues nothing changes because they do not have control over those issues.  This is not a sovereign country.  Our control over the laws in this country has been lost, our control over the taxes payable in this country has been lost.  Whether most stay-away voters realise this or not, they do at least see that voting changes nothing and is not a worthwhile exercise.  More people are joining their ranks.  The disengaged is a growing constituency.  The only solution is a wholesale change of the system where the people hold the power, not the political class.

Getting back to the democracy illusion, one of the comments in response to the article captures the essential point about our condition with ruthless efficiency. It is an excellent potted summary that deserves to be shared around, for it underlines the reality and helps to reinforce the necessity of challenging and changing the system to replace the cheap and nasty sham we have with real democracy:

5 Responses to “Representative Democracy: The disengaged”


  1. 1 1957chev 15/11/2013 at 1:24 am

    With access to computers being so widespread, it is not difficult for politicians to poll the opinions of their constituents. The arrogance, and sense of entitlement of today’s politicians needs to be reigned in. We need to have a method of holding politicians accountable for bad decisions, and we should not have to wait till election day. That is true democracy.

  2. 2 Pogle's Woodsman 15/11/2013 at 9:05 am

    I’m always fascinated when those immersed in the mythology – Peter Kellner being a good example – quote ‘representative democracy’ in fixed and absolute terms. To the mere voter – and to that person alone – it means that the candidate who represents you does so from their own mandate alone and the electorate has no place expecting a sincere debate with that candidate. To the political class and their supplicative hangers-on, it means what they wish it to mean at any particular time to suit contemporary circumstances. And solely for that period until it needs to mean something quite different. And still at the behest and sole benefit of that political class to the exclusion of the plebs.

    Other than the brief and contrived instance thirty months ago when the electorate were invited to give a tiny marginal alteration in the electoral fabric with the (utterly pointless) AV referendum, the electorate has no opportunity in any meaningful respect to engage in the redefinition of the word ‘representative’. Kellner, and his near rhetorical doppelganger Antony King will often snarl in a patrician warning that your individual MP is not there as a delegate but in fact has been wilfully and intentionally presented a grand blank cheque to do as they (via the Whips office….) might please. Such people habitually react to mention of the word ‘Switzerland’ as a certain Transylvanian Count might react to exposure of a crucifix.

    So it’s educational to see over the years that the specific mechanisms of public political debate is pre-guided as if fixed on rails, like a global Hornby train set. The debate can move forward or back on the pre-arranged track, according to the controller, even switch tracks at pre-arranged points – have a spin on the turntable if you want – but at no point are you permitted to lay down an independent track of your own which is subject to entirely contrary terms of reference. Any attempt to do so is quickly vetoed by the inhabitants of that bubbleworld. If it wasn’t so consistent, and the dialogue involved so predictably scripted, I’d be less cynical. But the more I hear the same tired phrases from the same old tired faces, the more certain do I become that democracy it ain’t.

  3. 3 wj (@wj557) 15/11/2013 at 11:10 am

    The battle rages on Huffington Post

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/15/voters-reject-political-parties_n_4279215.html

    I can’t believe how entrenched anti-democracy is embedded in some people’s psyche.

    One for the Harrogate Agenda

  4. 4 angela ellis-jones 15/11/2013 at 2:05 pm

    The one real achievement of our governing classes since the arrival of mass democracy -creating the illusion that we do indeed live in a democracy!

    The paradox of democracy is this – the more people are enfranchised,the more the iron grip of party (i.e. oligarchies) tightens. We can trace this process,beginning in the C19th.

    Plato described the process whereby ‘democracy’ eventually gives way to tyranny – his work is of continuing relevance!


  1. 1 Are you “Politically Disengaged ” ? | UKIP Hillingdon Trackback on 15/11/2013 at 9:09 am
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