Posts Tagged 'Harrogate Agenda'

It’s time to take on and defeat the pro-EU side

Under the section on ‘Progressing the Agenda’ on page 26 of the Harrogate Agenda pamphlet, it says:

One of those objectives, not explicitly stated, is the withdrawal of the UK from membership of the European Union. As it stands, the direct democracy embodied in THA is not compatible with membership of the EU.

The inception of the Harrogate Agenda was to campaign for a transformation in British democracy – namely bringing it about.  It just so happens that democracy, real people power, is utterly incompatible with membership of the EU and its model of governance beyond accountability, which is why THA says it is necessary for the UK to leave the EU.

However, given the significantly changing pace and indeed face of the EU referendum debate, the Harrogate Agenda committee and advisory panel will meet in May to discuss formalising and increasing the link between THA and the EU Referendum issue, in order to give more prominence to campaigning for withdrawing from the EU.

In other words, although THA was not brought into being to fight for withdrawal from the EU, it is looking to re-focus its activity to achieve that end.

This does not mean THA will abandon its aim of demoratic reform in the UK.  Far from it.  Rather it is a recognition that before that can happen the UK needs to be free of the EU and we have a part to play in that.

To achieve that goal of leaving the EU there is a clear need for the anti-EU side to get all the help it can.  Blogging supporters of THA have variously highlighted and lamented the shortcomings of the anti-EU side over months and years.  Therefore the proposal being put before THA supporters – who are currently engaged in building the foundation of the movement before presenting it to the public – is that we now actively get involved in the game, that we devote our attention and focus on EU withdrawal, while formally bringing to it whatever philosophical and technical tools we can.

There are too many things that the public is not being told.  There are too many Europhile lies going unchallenged.  The media is awash with FUD, spin, deliberately sown confusion and ignorant commentary.  Not enough is being done to provide voters with reassurance that leaving the EU can have positive benefits in addition to the UK governing itself and speaking with its own voice on the world stage.

It’s time to tackle and overcome those problems.

THA has something to contribute – not least Richard North’s outstanding, condensed FLexCit plan that provides a definitive roadmap for leaving the EU and dealing with expected stumbling blocks along the way. It’s time to get out of the stands, onto the field and energise the pro-independence side.

One of many reasons why the establishment must be taken on

If this story (shown in full below) from Christopher Booker (not an isolated case by any means) doesn’t make every reader of it simmer with anger and righteous indignation then there is more wrong in the world than we already realised.

The lunatics take over the
asylum in ‘caring’ Britain

This story, if accurately and truthfully recited to Booker, demonstrates the state – which is supposed to serve the public and be accountable to it – is now dangerously out of control, having already long since asserted itself as our master and dictator.  It no longer seeks to serve, it seeks to control.  For the state to behave in this way in response to lawful and appropriate challenge to its self-conferred authority and unscrutinised decision making, is an outrage in the proper sense of the word.

The only way the state will relinquish the power it has granted itself is for consent to be withdrawn by the people so as to make it impossible for the state to govern us how it chooses.  Then power can be taken back by the people, as per the strategy of The Harrogate Agenda.  Seeking change through the party political process is a forlorn hope that will not succeed.

The Harrogate Agenda Explained…

A number of readers have asked for The Harrogate Agenda and its aims to be explained in a little more detail.  The document below is a one-page explanation.

You can also download the document in PDF format and save to your computer by clicking on the PDF graphic below…

The Six Demands are detailed on The Harrogate Agenda website.

Tackling the web of delusion

Inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners Lee, is one of this country’s finest exports.  When one considers the huge contribution he has made to the ability of people to share information and knowledge around the globe in seconds, it seems a shame to find cause to criticise him.

But sadly that is the case today.  In fairness, Berners Lee has rightly articulated in the Telegraph a sound assessment that:

One of the most encouraging findings of this year’s Web Index is how the web and social media are increasingly spurring people to organise, take action and try to expose wrongdoing in every region of the world.

But, while that is true to an extent, Berners Lee has fallen into that prison of the mind, a web of delusion, when it comes to understanding what constitutes democracy.  For perhaps understandable reasons, this otherwise extremely intelligent man thinks we actually have democracy, which leads him to argue that:

… a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy. Bold steps are needed now to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and association online.

Surveillance and censorship of the type we are increasingly seeing are not threats to democracy; they are symptoms of the absence of democracy.

The definition of democracy has been corrupted.  Its definition today as advanced by the political class, has been adulterated to mean nothing more than periodic elections taking place.  Small wonder people are ignorant about what democracy really is and continue to labour under the delusion that we have it.

All this sham ‘democracy’ permits is a change of the colours of the tribe that will execute agendas formulated by unelected and unaccountable people, without consultation with us, or our permission.  The political process is completely detached from the people.  Power has been removed ever further from the people and the only solution is for people to take that power for ourselves – it will not be willingly reliquished by the establishment.

There is a way of taking that power and commencing the journey to democracy, one that will take time and numbers.  The Harrogate Agenda has the sole and unswerving objective of having democracy implemented in this country and has a strategy to achieve it.  A one page (PDF format) explanation of The Harrogate Agenda can be downloaded and shared from the right hand side of this page or by clicking on the PDF graphic below:

The Harrogate Agenda explained

Taking power for the people can be done, peacefully, intelligently and by operating within the law.  Withdrawing our consent to be governed in the way we are can be achieved by frustrating the establishment through a mass refusal to abide by their rules and requirements when it comes to the source of their power – the control of money.

A “filthy, dirty, posh wanker” or just a deluded idiot?

David Cameron has dignified a foul-mouthed and abusive outburst by Russell Brand with a typically juvenile response, reported as a story by the Guardian.  No surprise there.

The real story however concerns the substantive issue Brand raised recently, concerning disengagement from the political system by increasing numbers of eligible voters.  While some of the disengaged understand clearly what the problems are, others are disengaged only because they have a sense that things are not right, that politicians and parties are to blame and that as nothing changes there is no point in voting.

The reason why nothing changes, as we have explained in the two posts on Hard Truths here and here, is because our politicians have given away the power to govern this country to the EU.  They could not change things even if they wanted to, unless they first made the UK independent again.  Politicians have continued with the transfer of power despite knowing for decades that the EU undermines and erodes sovereignty and democracy by design.  Democracy can lead to outcomes that don’t suit the political class, so they simply use power to prevent the wishes of the people being followed.  It is this that is fuelling disengagement and anti-political sentiment.

So while it is self evident that you cannot believe in democracy and support the EU or membership of it, we find Cameron making a comment of profound and deluded idiocy – or cynical deception – in response to Brand’s call for ‘revolution’:

I’m a democrat. If Russell Brand’s got a better idea, he can let us know.

I have a better idea, Dave, and I’ll tell you right now what it is, let’s have democracy!  Not the sham that describes dictatorship by an elite as ‘democracy’, but the real thing that reflects the meaning on the word, demos kratos – ‘people rule’.

Whatever Cameron is, he isn’t a democrat.  Cameron wants to continue with the fraudulent notion of democracy that merely collapses ‘democracy’ into periodic voting, while isolating the political process from any form of control by the people.

Brand’s desire is for revolution.  We do need a revolution, but not of the kind Brand has in mind.  We need a peaceful withdrawal of consent to bring about a change of the system.  Resorting to violence plays into the system’s hands, because they can put down violence with far greater and better equipped violence.  Brand doesn’t seem to get that.   No, we need a revolution that leaves the state’s hands tied by making their systems unworkable and their rules unenforceable.

It can be done.  But it needs to be done in a way that keeps structures and rules intact, only under the control of the people, in order to avert anarchy.  The Harrogate Agenda has a strategy that can achieve that .  A post on that later this weekend.

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:

It’s your money, but we want it and are taking it…

Here we go again.  The old chestnut of tax avoidance being equated with tax evasion is back in the papers today.

The paywall-free Mail reports about a number of BBC ‘stars’ who elect to be freelancers and paid as ‘personal service contractors’, rather than work on the BBC payroll.

The benefits are clear.  The BBC doesn’t have to pay tax on the money it pays to the freelancer (other than VAT on the invoiced sum), as the freelancer is a ‘company’ entity and responsible for paying taxes due for the services they provide.  The freelancer can pay a lower effective tax rate than an employee, depending on how they organise their directorships, salary, costs and expenses and dividend arrangements.

But yet again we see the grubbing politicians, who are so preoccupied with hoovering up as much of our money as possible in order to control how money is spent, making moronic statements that demonstrate they are trying to con the public and demonise people who have done nothing wrong.  As the Mail puts it:

There is no suggestion that any of the individuals named have acted improperly but  MPs accused the BBC of having ‘staggeringly inappropriate’ arrangements in place for many employees and said it could be ‘complicit’ in tax avoidance.

Complicit in tax avoidance?  What the hell?  This is the equivalent of criticising drivers for going along a road at 30mph in a 30mph limit by claiming they are complicit in driving within the speed limit.  The argument is completely ludicrous.  The pressure that has been applied to lead to this unnecessary change is an example of excessively powerful government that is out of control.  Personal freedom is being infringed as a result of undue pressure being brought to bear by the over powerful state.

There is nothing wrong with tax avoidance, which is the arranging of your financial affairs so that you legitimately pay less tax.  It is legal and responsible.  Yet some politicians, whose only motivation is wanting more of our money to control and use to service their whims, have even gone as far as coining the expression ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ to describe the active effort to find legitimate ways of a person or company arranging their affairs to ensure they pay as little tax as necessary within the law.  In using this description they are deliberately attempting to mislead people into thinking these individuals and companies are engaging in tax evasion – the illegal and criminal act which is the deliberate failure to provide full and accurate information about income and assets to the tax authorities so tax liability can be correctly assessed and demands applied within the law.

Although it is our money the refrain of the politicians is, ‘but we want it and are taking it’.  We no longer have a Parliament.  We have an elected Court of Robber Barons.

Court of Robber Barons

Court of Robber Barons

And they are doing all they can to bully, threaten and demonise individuals and companies into handing over money they have no legal obligation to pay.  Starbucks being a case in point, having suffered so much reputational damage at the hands of politicians and blinkered campaign groups who believe government should control everything, they voluntarily offered to pay millions of pounds to the Exchequer they were not liable for in order to put an end to the blackmail they were subjected to.  You read that right, Starbucks were blackmailed into handing over money because politicians did all they could to turn people against the company, which was wrongly being painted as abusing tax law.  That should engender fear in everyone.

Taxation has long since ceased to be the process for raising funds to be spent on essential public services and infrastructure.  It is now a form of oppressive control to restrict the ability of individuals to use their money as they see fit.  The funds raised are squandered on whims and discretionary spending to bribe people into voting the politicians back into office, which is not dissimilar to the use of taxes in medieval times to fund the adventurism of monarchs and luxury of lords.

In a classic abuse of language, the politicians hark on about people having to pay their ‘fair share’, even though this invariably means people with larger incomes and who use public services far less than most other citizens, paying the same contribution as many other people combined.  There is no sense of proportion in all this.  They have the money and the government wants it, so it rigs the system to ensure it gets it.  But in their bubble this is supposedly fair.

The only way this country will ever see responsible taxation and use of our money by the government is when the people have the power to block spending plans that service the interests of the politicians rather than the interests of the population.  This road leads back to The Harrogate Agenda, and the fifth of the six demands:

5. No taxation or spending without consent: no tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express approval the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures

Only with such democratic control can anyone in this country ever talk about tax in terms of fairness.


Each time a provider has put up their prices, Labour has spun its smoke and mirrors on their ludicrous plan for a 20 month price freeze.  Meanwhile the Tories have said people need to change provider to get a cheaper deal.

Both are trying to convince the public they want to ‘do something’ even though both have laid the blame for the huge and continuing price rises at the door of the energy providers and have tried to ignore the government’s significant role in driving up energy costs – which are far greater than the 10% admitted to by DECC.

But today, against a backdrop of Tories and Socialists at least going through the motions of claiming they want to see the rapidly increasing burden of energy prices reduced, the Lib Dem energy minister, Ed Davey, has said he is pledging to turn the screw even harder.

I am not going to give up on renewable energy, they are not going to touch it, and I am not going to betray the fuel poor. That’s for me is a complete red line. I feel passionate about that.

The green taxes we have been pushing as Liberal Democrats in this government have been extraordinarily successful and point to an extremely green, clean energy future. They’re not being touched and they won’t be touched. It’s incredibly important for investors that they hear that.

His pledge to help the fuel poor just creates more fuel poor to pay for it.  But his real priority is renewables.  He wants to carpet bomb the country with wind turbines so he can rid the energy mix of coal fired energy – at a time when environmentalist Germany is building more competitive and reliable coal fired plants, to ensure its people and industry can afford to power homes and businesses.

While Germany thinks about its power needs and acts on them, Britain has the insipid Davey thinking about investors’ needs and crippling consumers.  These investors are the people and companies that coin in a fortune from our taxes and energy levies to put up wind turbines that earn them vast sums, even when the turbines deliver only around a 1/5th of their energy capacity – and they even make money when the turbines generate nothing!  It is ideology-driven insanity.

The sustainability agenda has a new figurehead in the UK.  Ed Davey, a man who is guilty of dogged determination to make things worse because he refuses to accept his direction is damaging.

He thinks he is a force for good.  He is merely a puppet of delusional environmentalists, with little concept of the real world and is in thrall to those who believe humans are a plague that should be controlled, by reversing industrial progress and undoing the humanitarian progress that has enabled many people of even meagre means to heat the property they live in.

Ed Davey is possibly the most dangerous extremist in this country today.  The damage he is capable of wreaking far exceeds that of armed terrorists.  His sustainability jihad should be of serious concern to everyone who does not have a parasitic interest in making money from underperforming novelties that attract ludicrously inflated feed in tariffs: and whose low output must be purchased by energy providers irrespective of the cost – the pain of which is then borne by all powerless energy consumers.

Davey is out of control and impervious to the wishes of the people.  He is aided in this by the fact we do not have democratic control that enables this idiot to be called to account.  More than any other politician today, he embodies the pressing need for structural reform of governance in this country to ensure people have the power, not dictatorial ideologues elected by around 28,000 voters in one corner of south west London.

And you still think this is a democracy?

The problem for someone who has initials that lend themselves to being nicknamed ‘GOD’ is that sooner or later, they start to believe that is exactly who they are.

For we hear that Lord Gus O’Donnell – an unelected and unaccountable civil servant who ascended the greasy pole to become Cabinet Secretary, a real life version of Sir Humphrey Appleby, enjoying and wielding immense power over the way this country has been run in recent years – has recommended that aspiring MPs should be forced to meet ‘pre-qualification criteria’ before being allowed to stand for election.

It doesn’t stop there.  O’Donnell also recommends in his piece, called ‘Better Government‘ that government policies should be vetted by former ministers, accountants and ex-civil servants, arguing that radical change is needed because the country is ‘in a bad place’.  In the article where he outlines his ideas, O’Donnell states that:

  • Politicians have a “ludicrous bias” in favour of older people
  • Health provision is “expensive and inefficient”
  • The education system does not produce the skills that businesses need

Yet his solution is to engage, among others, the very former ministers and ex-civil servants who presided over the creation of the mess in the first place.

Has anyone spotted the little flaw in all this?

Yes, that’s right.  It is the people who should decide who represents them (however badly), not some self selecting, establishment appointed cabal that is unelected and unaccountable.   As usual, there is no place whatsoever for ordinary people like you and me in determining who gets to hold this significant influence, and we will have as little influence over those people as we do over the current crop of politicians who do so badly by us in return for so much.

While a ‘source’ at the Cabinet Office has responded by saying that:

It is not clear who would oversee the pre-qualification of Parliamentary candidates, and for what purpose. At present they undergo rigorous scrutiny by the electorate. It’s called democracy.

the concern we should have is that this was dreamed up at all.  And now it has been mooted, you can be certain there will be politicians who will spot opportunity in all this and their voices will, over the years, add to O’Donnell’s call and seek to put his recommendations into practice.

O’Donnell wrote in his article that:

There are very few jobs that do not require individuals to undertake training and development before being promoted, so this would bring MPs into line with the reality of their constituents’ lives.

But this fails to recognise that the role of an MP is to represent their constituents, not serve their own interests by seeking advancement.

However, that said, we should recognise that the idea of training for MPs who have been elected does have some merit.  It might put an end to many of the nonsensical, ill informed and ignorant comments they make about lawmaking and fatuous assessments of where power resides, which demonstrate they do not understand the structures of governance, how laws are made or what processes bring them into being.

But it is insulting for O’Donnell to call for the creation of an Office for Taxpayer Responsibility to vet government policies and opposition manifestos, when such an office is not accountable to taxpayers.

As it is taxpayers are not consulted about how their money is used.  Such an entity would simply be the addition of an extra layer of bureaucracy and control, that only serves to move ordinary people further away from anything resembling democratic control over the actions of the political class, rather than improve governance.

It is small comfort that the aforementioned Cabinet Office source accepted that improvements were needed.  But to be of any impact they would need to be something of the magnitude of wholesale structural reform and, in particular, empowerment of voters, which is the central tenet of the Six Demands of The Harrogate Agenda.  And we can be certain that approach will most certainly not be something that is put on the table.

As always, this is another example of the establishment talking to itself and arranging the furniture in a way that suits its wishes, doing unto us what they will, without our consent or any reference to us.  Until that central problem is rectified, nothing that GOD or any of his establishment ilk suggest will improve our situation.

It is sometimes said the voice of the people is the voice of God.  Not in this case, evidently.

Harrogate Agenda takes another step forward

The Harrogate Agenda returned to its North Yorkshire spa town home today, to build upon the outputs from the last meeting in Leamington Spa.

As there were some new faces it was an ideal opportunity to explain what the Agenda is and what it is not.  With new readers to this blog all the time, this is an ideal opportunity to explain the same here:

  • It’s a movement, not a party
  • It seeks supporters, it is not a membership organisation
  • It is not issue based, save the implementation of truly democratic structures
  • It seeks to bring about change from outside the ‘system’, not get entangled within the system and its diversionary intrigues
  • It has revolutionary ambition, but in the classical sense of bringing about significant change from status quo
  • It is non-violent, its campaigning may necessitate civil disobedience at times but that’s all.
  • And finally it is uncompromising, it will hold true to the 6 Demands and not dilute them or be taken off at a tangent.

There we have it.  The Harrogate Agenda is not about remedying specific current issues, such as wind turbines, planning matters or taxation.  But what Agenda seeks to do is bring about structural change that empowers people, so issues such as those can be resolved or prevented from ever becoming an irritant in the first place.  The focus of the movement is empowerment, through a new and truly democratic framework, where nothing can come about or stand without the consent of the people.

As a concept it will be difficult for some people to come to terms with, as they are used to expressing their dissent through tightly targeted protest, which almost always burns out having failed to achieve its objectives after a comparatively few fleeting moments of media attention.

But experience shows that the ruling class, with its top-down approach to decision making and its laughably dictatorial system of ‘guided democracy’ can easily brush aside such complaint because the people don’t have structures that empower them and ensure bottom-up decision making.

It’s helpful to think, therefore, of the 6 Demands as ‘enablers’.  While some of the points may appear narrow in themselves because they do not tackle specific issues people rail against today, the scope of empowerment the demands would deliver would bring about the conditions that allow for wider and more complex issues to be tackled and overcome.  The people would decide how they wish to be governed and the executive would carry out instructions rather than give them.

Moving on, the attendees saw the premieres of two short films.  The first deals with the anti-democratic nature of governance in this country and underlines the need for the type of change The Harrogate Agenda is seeking, including the devolution of power to the local level.  The second examines how Norway thrives outside the European Union, underlining the global nature of rules and directives and demonstrating the UK’s membership of the EU, which while incompatible with the concept of democracy and civil empowerment in any case, prevents this country from being at the top table, wielding influence and formulating decisions.

Both films will soon be available to buy (to cover the costs of making them, which was significant), with trailers soon appearing on YouTube.

The next workshops will focus on each of the demands in more detail, helping supporters to understand the concepts and be able to articulate them to new people effectively, something that is essential if the movement is to grow and the message is to take hold.  This is a vital ‘level set’ to ensure supporters all have the same depth of knowledge and can engage with people in a confident manner.

The movements of the past that have been most effective in advancing their revolutionary thinking have all taken time to develop.  They have ensured they have an intellectual base and forms of revenue that fund further development and campaigning.  That is why the ‘placard protest’ model is unsuitable.  That is why Harrogate may seem to be taking time to make a difference.  But once the ducks are in a row and there is an informed and engaged supporter base carrying the message to more and more people, Harrogate will show itself to be a movement that has longevity and the capacity to drive a real transformation in the way the British people are governed, and most crucially, by whom.

Of independence, protections and democracy

Where’s the benefit in striving to have a new boss, when he’s actually the old boss, and mostly just as bad if not much worse than the new old boss he would be replacing?

Put differently, what is the point of British people seeking independence from the EU, when putting British politicians back in charge to govern us from Westminster results in outcomes that are every bit as bad, if not worse, than what is forced on us by the crowd in Brussels?

Today’s earlier blog post about the squeeze on legal aid forcing some law firms to close down or restructure, focused on the consequences of long term abuse of a system designed to provide protections under the law for this country’s citizens and visitors.  The passing reference to cuts to the legal aid budget having ramifications for the ability of less well off people to have access to justice, really didn’t do justice to the magnitude of the changes being made by the coalition.

So this follow up seeks to put things into greater context.

What the cuts to the legal aid budget will result in was made clear in 2011.  As part of the cost saving plan, the UK informed the EU that it would not opt-in to the proposal for a Directive on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and on the right to communicate upon arrest.  The reason was clear.  Clause 12 of what was then the Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, contained provisions that restrict access to legal advice for criminal suspects, with cost saving one of the reasons given for it.

Ostensibly the provision was to pave the way for means testing of defendants to determine if they should get legal aid, as a step change on the route to removing the automatic right of those arrested and in police custody to have access to a lawyer at the police station.  A director of legal aid would decide which detainees should get legal aid in the ‘interest of justice’ without any right to appeal – leaving the way open for the state to persecute individuals who, if of limited means, would be denied access to counsel.

Note the ‘interest of justice’ element of the clause.  It suggests this is not merely a financial consideration, but the state giving itself the ability to determine whether it’s in justice’s interest to have a defendant assisted by a lawyer if he can’t afford one.  It’s a wide open swinging door to abuse and miscarriage of justice.

By any measure, using the cost savings yardstick, it would be wrong to equate the entitlement to legal counsel upon arrest with the kind of abuses of legal aid that have seen millionaires defended at public cost.  But that was the excuse being used to push through a pernicious and worrying bill.

Now fast forward to two weeks ago in Brussels.  There we find the European Parliament plenary adopting a proposal from the European Commission to make a new law, to guarantee the rights of all citizens to be advised by a lawyer when facing criminal proceedings.  This is what the UK opted out of.

So what we see are protections being afforded to EU citizens that are not available to UK citizens.  Being in a signatory EU member state, ironically, would ensure the interests of defendants are protected far more than here in the UK.

This goes back to a long standing question.  Why bother pushing for independence when that still leaves us at the mercy of politicians and civil servants who are every bit as bad, if not worse, than those we seek to escape from in Brussels?  Out of the frying pan and into the fire.  It’s all well and good arguing for independence, but it is ultimately meaningless unless the UK becomes democratic.  Truly democratic.

That does not mean merely voting every 4-5 years then having no influence or control over the people we send to Parliament.  It means the people holding the power, and politicians not being able to impose on us restrictions and laws, like the eroding right to legal counsel paid for by the taxpayer, without our consent.

This is brings us to the intersection of independence and democracy, where there is a crossroads between the campaign to leave the EU and the embryonic campaign to realise the Six Demands of the Harrogate Agenda.

This post is just food for thought, and a reminder of the complexity that faces us as we seek to define the future of this country and our people.  Things aren’t always as black and white as they seem.  Getting out of the EU isn’t the end in itself, only the means to enable us to formulate the end for ourselves in the future.

(With more time I would probably do a better job of connecting the dots, with far better writing than the jumble above which was banged out in a few minutes of downtime. So this post may be revised slightly over the next day or so, to complete thoughts, add emphasis or generally improve it.)

John Kerry’s u-turn – what has changed?

Spotter’s badge for Jeremy Poynton in the comments who links to a powerful blog post over on SayAnythingBlog.

The post shares with readers John Kerry’s 1971 testimony before Congress, where he argued America’s involvement in Vietnam was never about national security, that America lost its sense of morality by bombing villages in Vietnam and most striking of all that America should stay out of internal civil wars in other nations – no matter how bad they might be – because history shows that is the right thing to do.

The post compares these comments with his comments this week vindicating military intervention in Syria.  It lays bare the complete and utter u-turn Kerry has executed since becoming Secretary of State in the Obama administration and part of an establishment that is determined to undertake exactly the same actions Kerry railed against 42 years ago.

What has changed?

It can be argued that as Kerry’s immersion into the establishment has resulted in this change to his worldview.  It is a consequence of iving in the unhealthy political bubble that exists, separated from the realities of life and the views of ordinary people outside the ring of steel that protects the elite.  As such he and his ilk are cut off from all sources of information bar that provided by political advisers and government apparatchiks – who themselves live in the bubble and are therefore susceptible to bias confirmation and reinforcement by other narrowly focused minds.  This structure exacerbates the widening disconnect between the electorate and the political class and is perhaps the reason why the interests of the establishment always seem to be so very different from our interests.

The only way this problem can be recognised, challenged by the people and ultimately corrected is to adopt properly democratic structures.  Increasing frustration among voters suggests people are becoming more receptive to the idea of discussion about this otherwise dry topic. Make no mistake, being asked to vote for MPs, Mayors and councillors every 4-5 years is not the be-all and end-all of democracy.  A measure of a democratic society is the degree to which voters have control and influence over their representatives after they have assumed their seat in a political chamber.

Too many people believe that the act of voting delegates authority to the elected to do what they see fit in our interest.  The fatal flaw in that belief is demonstrated by the existance of the echo chamber described above and the way our interests are consistently trumped by party political interests and the wishes of highly influential individuals and groups who finance those parties.

Increasingly and even more disturbingly, we are seeing governments claim citizen involvement in the governance process because of their inclusion of membership body Non-Governmental Organisations, such as WWF and other environmental and sustainability pressure groups, as equals sitting around the table with elected politicians.

This nefarious state of affairs is highly sinister as the governments choose which NGOs they will embrace and award a seat at the table, give them funding from our pockets and allow them to dictate the rules the rest of us live under.  We have no control over the leadership of these organisations and no control over which organisations are selected to be part of the establishment club.  One member of Greenpeace cannot overturn a campaign direction of travel to ensure the NGO does not push government (such as the EU) to impose highly damaging and hugely costly policies on the rest of us.  This is a theme that will get more prominence soon.

Closing the loop, the issue of John Kerry’s re-programming therefore is symptomatic of a much wider, much bigger and much more dangerous problem with democratic structures, one that need to be addressed if the people are to again be the masters and our representatives and public officials are to be the servants.  We owe it to ourselves to bring about the necessary change.  An excellent starting point are the demands of the fledgling Harrogate Agenda.

Different day, same old handwringing

It has become so common that people on the taxpayer funded gravy train public payroll abuse the system to enrich themselves financially, the stories reaching mainstream media about the grubbing, self serving behaviour no longer shock, and rarely do they elicit sufficient public anger to generate a campaign designed to remove the said parasite from office.

It suggests people have conceded defeat and reluctantly suppress their disgust at the political class and the well-fed bureaucracy, then, believing that little can be done or that it will be too time consuming or focus the unwelcome attention of the state upon them, focus on other things – like that evening’s TV schedule.

Another example of this can be found in the Mail today where it is reported the Tory Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, nominated an ‘office’ location near his home as a detour destination from where he could claim mileage to the force’s Headquarters to which he would not be entitled if he simply drove there from home.  The comments section contains the usual handwringing indignation and disgust, but nothing beyond that.  Although one comment does stand out because its author gets what needs to happen:

Well if we the British people keep throwing our arms up in the air and say “OMG that is terrible, BUT WHAT CAN WE DO” We simply must unite and demand action be taken, we must collectively grievance issues with Councillors and demand that questions be answered not brushed under the carpet. I am not sure if Britain has always been so corrupt and I was blind to it or have things become so bad that I can no longer fail to notice it. I know one thing divided we are conquered but united we are strong. IT IS TIME TO BECOME STRONG.

– Beam MeUp, Cheshire, United Kingdom, 11/5/2013 23:06

Perhaps the thing holding people back is the sense of powerlessness in the face of the huge parasitic establishment that shields the likes of Stansfeld from proper accountability.  Perhaps it is largely to do with not knowing where on earth to target their campaign in order to remove a grubbing parasite like Stansfeld, because the lines of control and power are not clear to people – and that is intentional on the part of the various authorities.

There are some people I like and respect who believe what is needed is an effective template, developed from apparently successful local campaigns – and ‘flashmob’ national campaigns such as the Fuel Protests – that can be dusted off and rolled out nationally for people to deploy.  Sadly there is a major problem with this.  It doesn’t take into account what exactly the final outcomes of such protests were.

All too often, having been apparently successful in achieving their intial demands after raising thousands of pounds for legal representation and exhausted their physical and emotional capital during a draining protest, the powers that be go away and quietly redefine the rules to overcome the objection – resulting in eventual defeat for people power.  Look at any number of previous targeted protests from recent years and you will find many of the things they stood against have subsequently found their way into being, or are in the process of being pushed through using alternative mechanisms.  The Fuel Protests are a good example as they appeared to gain concessions from the government, but most people do not know the campaign was stamped on in ruthless fashion by Blair’s government when the protest’s leaders were told they would be deprived of their livelihoods through confiscation of their vehicles if they did not bring the protest to an end.  Fuel duty continued to rise and despite sabre rattling no follow up protest took shape.

This is why the answer lies not in improving the organisation and coordination of protests, but in changing the rules of the whole game by taking back power from those who are supposed to be our servants.

Why focus attention and waste energy on challenging power time and again when a carefully developed, thought through, concerted grassroots campaign to take power back would remove the capacity of the establishment to impose on the people that which they oppose?  Not for nothing is the web domain devoted to a local authority energy scheme rather than the promotion of democracy.  Even the image above is being used by ‘Conservative Future’ – a group devoted to furthering the aims of the same Conservative Party that is doing all it can to deny the people their say about how this country is governed.   The establishment has no interest in addressing our interests. So we must take back the power we have allowed to be taken from us.

Over the coming months the Harrogate Agenda will continue to take shape as the foundations are put in place to enable people, who agree with the six core demands that have been developed and want to see democracy – people power – hold sway in this country, to learn where power resides, and how change can be brought about by challenging it and rebalancing the relationship between the state and the people in the people’s favour.

And they call this ‘government’

As the BBC reports, Iain Duncan Smith has said that wealthy elderly people who do not need benefit payments to help with fuel bills or free travel should voluntarily return the money to the authorities.

The Work and Pensions Secretary has told the Sunday Telegraph that he would ‘encourage’ people who do not need such financial support ‘to hand it back’.

Well that should do it!  Thanks very much, Iain.

For decades the political class in this country has served its own interests, with naked bribes to voters in return for being able to enjoy the trappings of power.  The cost of welfare and the other promises that make up many of these bribes is largely responsible for the staggering level of borrowing and the horrific debt this country simply cannot repay.

Once again reality meets political expediency and instead of doing the right thing by British taxpayers Ministers are trying to do the best thing for their own electoral prospects while doing contortions to appease the plethora of bodies constructed by the transnational overlords and follow rules everyone else avoids.

Collectively this is why the government doesn’t get serious about only spending our money on essential services and supporting the vulnerable people in our society.  This is why our money gets spent supporting overseas based families of migrants who have contributed barely anything to the pot in the short time they have been in the UK.  This is why now hear the government enthusiastically ‘plays by the rules’ in forking over hundreds of millions of pounds for healthcare costs for UK nationals treated overseas, while permitting the NHS to fail to keep accurate records of foreign nationals treated here under the services British taxpayers fund, so we only get back a fraction of what we are due for use of our overstretched resources.

The government could slash taxes, but instead it chooses to hoover up our money so it offer some of it back in credits and benefits in return for votes.  Too many voters don’t understand that while they are being given these bribes with one hand, they are crumbs from the table as much more is siphoned off and wasted on administration and diverted for spending on things people do not support.  The government could rejuvinate the economy and reduce borrowing dramatically if it simply let people keep more of their own money and spend it on what they want, rather than fritter it away on boondoggles, wheezes, special interests and these disgraceful, self serving bribes.  But it won’t because if it controls the money it controls everything.  It can  build the insipid client state and increase the size of government to justify the ever worsening kleptocracy that has developed.

Voting for any of the political parties is an endorsement of the continuation of this scandalous behaviour.  Voting for any of the political parties props up the faux democracy that exists in this country.  It does not result in change.  It results in the electorate and taxpayers continuing to be treated with ever more contempt.

What we need is not a reshuffle of the deck chairs, nor a rotation of faces who are all committed to perpetuating the same corrupt system that holds sway in this country.  We need a complete overhaul of the system, to bring about real democracy where control and decision making rests with the people and where the executive serves the people rather than dictates to them.  We need a genuine revolution.  The potential alternatives to this, borne of desperation and anger, are too awful to contemplate.

We need real change.  It will never be realised by playing the political class’ game and using their rules – and that includes the charade of traipsing to polling stations to vote for the least worst option in the certain knowledge that on the major, substantive issues nothing will change.  They will continue to take their steer from unelected, unaccountable, self selecting entities instead of us, the people they are supposed to serve and whose wishes they are supposed to execute.  It is time for people to assert themselves and take the power back.

We have to define the game and set the rules that should be used.  We have an outline of how they should look.  Now we need people to consider how they can be realised.  In the meantime, while that discussion takes place and the approach is refined, we need to withdraw our consent by refusing to play their game and refusing to heed their desperate attempts for validation as they plead for people to use their vote.  Don’t feed the beast.

How do you solve a problem like Dave?

dcamIt was interesting today to speak to three people who generously supported my Borough Council election campaign back in 2007.

These were Tory stalwarts, always willing to leaflet, canvass, buy raffle tickets and support events.  When I resigned from the Council and quit the Conservatives they were still there, plugging away, doing their bit to further what they believed to be conservatism.  I lost touch with them when I withdrew from party politics, but hadn’t forgotten them.

With the county council elections coming up, I asked them how the campaigning was going.  I admit to being shocked to find that they had all left the Conservatives two years ago.  There are people in every party that one can look at and think, ‘their heart’s not in it, they’ll pack it in before long’.  But these three were not people one could ever have imagined as capable of being so disaffected as to walk away.  Enough, it turns out, was enough.  Everyone has different motives for their actions, so naturally an enquiry was made about why they had all quit (they are all unrelated but long standing friends of each other).  The answer in each case was… David Cameron.

It transpires true blue, ‘instinctive eurosceptic’ Dave has managed to alienate members so much that these hardcore, grassroots supporters who are the engine room of election campaigns, had turned their back on the party.  They cited Cameron’s hypocrisy over EU membership, his refusal to cut spending so only the essentials are funded,  and his indecent haste to jettison conservative principles in favour of Lib Dem and consensus fudges that suit no one but the establishment.   And, they were adamant, they are not going back.  They have come around to sharing my view that Cameron isn’t conservative and what is on offer is materially no different from that advanced by the Lib Dems and Labour.

If this is indicative of the sentiments of conservatives who have left the Conservative party in their droves in recent years, it is hard to see the party continuing to function as an electoral force within a few years.  Nominal members who don’t campaign are nowhere near as important as those who gave their time and money to support candidates – and it is these who appear to be walking away.

Thanks to Cameron’s arrogance and the existance of a vacuum where his conviction and principle is supposed reside, the Tories are in serious decline.  The party is swiftly becoming representative only of the muddled views of its small cabal of power brokers and it is losing the very people who it relies upon at election time to secure support and get out the vote.

The problem the Conservatives have is that there are too few conservatives left in the parliamentary party.  So fixing a problem like Dave looks to be an impossible task.  If he is replaced in an effort to rejuvinate the party’s electoral fortunes, it will only be another stuffed suit taking the helm with the same immunity to the notion of representative politics, the same craven complicity to the global governance agenda, the same anti democratic pro-EU position, and the same reluctance to tackle the admittedly herculean task of reforming the economy and reducing the size and scope of government.

Voters have increasingly seen this and stay away from the ballot box in increasing numbers.  But now Dave and the other rent seekers are finding their legitimacy is being questioned by their own party members.  The foundations are crumbling.  But until there is a fundamental reform of the way government is controlled and run in this country – as per the demands promoted by the carefully developing Harrogate Agenda campaign – the elite will continue to pass power between themselves and become ever more distant from the real world outside the establishment bubble centred on Westminster.

The Only Way is Harrogate.

Roger Helmer writes open letter to Damian Reece

Regular readers will know this blog has had some strong disagreements with Roger Helmer in months gone by.  Credit where it’s due, Helmer finally abandoned his indefensible membership of the europhile Conservatives and defected to UKIP – a party that reflects his eurosceptic viewpoint.

As this blog did on Saturday, Helmer has taken issue with the weekend editorial piece by the Telegraph’s Head of Business, Damian Reece, and has responded with an open letter on the Better Off Out site, a campaign group whose objectives this blog wholeheartedly supports.

While the sentiment of Helmer’s response is spot on, parts of the response leave eurosceptics open to accusations of woolly thinking, such as in this following paragraph (emphasis is mine):

Those of us who believe that we should be “Better Off Out” would argue for full independence, plus a free trade agreement. Such an agreement can certainly be achieved, because it is overwhelmingly in the interests of both parties, and of Brussels more than the UK (since we are a net importer from the EU). It is also required in the Treaties for the EU to negotiate such an agreement with a departing member-state. Even in the unthinkable case that we left the EU with no such agreement, the duties we should pay on our exports to the EU would be a mere fraction of our current net EU budget contributions.

This is ludicrously simplistic and fails to recognise major issues Helmer should be well aware of. For example, if we left the EU without agreements covering a wide range of matters the UK could find itself in breach of international conventions such as the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which Richard recently outlined on his blog to illustrate the attention to detail needed when exiting the EU.

Unilateral withdrawal from the EU without an agreement is indeed unthinkable – which is why it is unbelievable that Helmer has needlessly opened up a line of attack against eurosceptics with his detour on to discussion of duties and budget contributions. There are literally thousands of different conventions, agreements, protocols and other arrangements like CCAMLR which could be affected by our withdrawal from the EU and damage the UK economy by making it more difficult for this country to export. Comparing export duties with budget contributions is utterly irrelevant, particularly if this country finds itself unable to export to the EU because of the absence of an agreement.

Sadly this is another frustrating heads-in-hands moment caused by a lack of determined focus and a need to ramble.  The withdrawalist argument and pledge to the nation needs be clear and unambiguous and leave the europhiles with no opportunity to scaremonger that withdrawal will damage the UK’s interests.  The manner of withhdrawal needs to be certain and sure-footed, the arguments for it completely positive, and commitment to securing agreement to safeguard the UK’s economic and commercial interests absolute.

There is more than a hint of the Farage UKIP party line in Helmer’s letter, which is only to be expected given Helmer is a party political animal.  But Helmer should know better.  This is another positive argument for a strong and leaderless, organic, grassroots movement that is free of the baggage of a political party and direction set by an autocratic leader.

Cameron demonstrates his contempt for people power yet again

According to the Barclay Brother Beano, Cast Iron Dave is set to announce that residents’ rights to mount legal challenges to controversial development projects will be severely restricted.

Having been briefed on what is coming, the Torygraph’s James Kirkup goes on to explain:

‘Mr Cameron will argue that the rules are being abused to frustrate economically vital developments and will say a “massive growth industry” of seeking judicial reviews of planning decisions has been fuelled by solicitors and campaign groups.

‘Many applicants are guilty of “time-wasting” and bringing “hopeless cases” simply to waste developers’ time, the Prime Minister will say. He will outline a number of changes the Government wants to make, including shortening the three-month time limit on applying for a review.

‘Charges for an application will rise “so people think twice about time-wasting.” The number of possible appeals against decisions will also be cut from four to two.’

The Boiling Frog hasn’t wasted any time showing up Cameron’s forthcoming comments for what they are… yet another flip flop from a Prime Minister without a single principled bone in his body.  There is another more serious issue here concerning the widening gulf between the pledges politicians make to the people in order to try to win an election, and the reality once they have taken office.  Consider these quotes and compare them with what Kirkup says Cameron plans to say:

We have a coherent programme to fix our broken politics and drag our democracy into the post-bureaucratic age. It involves a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power – from the political elite to the man and woman in the street.

[…] Conservatives start with an instinctive desire to give people more power and control over their lives.
– David Cameron, ‘Giving power back to the people’ speech on 25 June 2009


You can see the nature of the change we want in the phrase itself…

…literally going from a bureaucratic world, where the old methods like regulation, laws and diktats allow elites in Westminster to control other people’s lives…

…to a post-bureaucratic world, where instead of government telling people what to do or forcing them to do it…

…people themselves have far more power and control over their lives…

…and where we achieve change by trying to influence people by going with the grain of human nature.

So it’s about giving power to people.

And it’s about showing an understanding of people, in how we make policy and design government and public services.
– David Cameron, ‘From central power to people power’ speech on 22 February 2010

Cameron can do this and is doing this because of the complete absence of accountability to the electorate. None of the talk of people power ever results in the political class handing back any of the power they have snatched.

The more that power is centralised the less democratic the country becomes. While Cameron talks a good game on people power, the core of his being is authoritarian and paternalist, always striving to marginalise the views of the very people he and his ilk are supposed to listen to and represent.  This has to stop.  Real change is required and the developing grassroots Harrogate Agenda campaign is working to achieve it.

Harrogate Agenda countering the false EUphile scare stories about UK leaving the EU

Since yesterday evening I’ve been involved in a couple of Twitter exchanges with fellow EUsceptics about withdrawing from the EU. While you might think this would have been a meeting of minds, it was anything but.

Their views respectively were that:

  1. we should just up and leave from the EU and that the remaining member states will trade with us as if nothing happened because we are in the EEA and anyway the WTO won’t let them stop our exports to the continent, and anyway China didn’t need Article 50 to be able to trade with the EU; and
  2. that the Lisbon Treaty is illegal, politicians are traitors and the Parliamentary oath has been broken and we just need the Speaker to declare such to nullify Lisbon, so we don’t need to exit using the EU’s rules which are designed to trap us in the entity forever, and for suggesting we do I’m a EUphile

To describe the discussions with such conspiracy theorising amateur legal experts as a demoralising frustration is an understatement.  But this evening the antidote to my misery has come forth, as Richard explains the way in which the UK can leave the EU without triggering any legal challenge under EU law and without adversely affecting our trade and economic interests – the excuses given by the EUphiles for staying firmly in the EU.  As Richard writes:

… while some of the europhile claims are indeed nonsense, for a variety of technical reasons, our manufacturing output could be hard hit if we failed to negotiate a sound exit agreement.

This is why, of course, it is vital to promote a negotiated exit based on an Article 50 settlement, tied in with membership of the EEA and the nationalisation of all unadopted EU law and secondary treaties. That way, we can affirm that the day after leaving the EU nothing will have changed.

The main effect our departure would (and should) be to allow us to commence the careful process of transition from being an EU member to full independence – and also to work towards more democratic governance in the UK.

Thus, if the europhiles are going to work on the fear factor, we have all the answers. Given a hearing, we can reassure people that there is no down-side to leaving.

In fact the biggest danger to our exit comes from within the UK itself.  Not from those self professed EUsceptics who want the UK out of the EU, but who will not support an ‘Out’ campaign because they claim our membership is illegal and therefore there’s nothing to campaign against.  Rather there is a very real possibility that a prominent figure(s) aligned to or part of the Conservative Party who claims to be Eurosceptic actually support the mythical ‘renegotiation’ option where we stay in the EU and have some powers returned to us.

By talking up an option which does not exist and can never happen (repatriation of key powers while staying in the EU) because of the acquis communautaire, they play to the fear factor whipped up by the EUphiles and would undermine an ‘Out’ campaign.  This is what Richard refers to as a hijacking by a ‘false flag’ campaign and it is a realistic prospect. Observing who is supported by whom will be important. For example, if Open Europe support a ‘Eurosceptic’ be certain he/she is nothing of the sort and wants the UK to stay firmly inside the EU talking about impossible reform, for that is Open Europe’s policy.

The process Richard outlines, based upon detailed examination of the law this country is now subject to and the trading constraints that could be applied in different circumstances, would enable us to leave the EU cleanly then take the time needed as an independent nation to establish new negotiated agreements that enable us to repeal the EU laws we took with us.

This is what an ‘Out’ campaign needs to get across to the public to successfully counter and defeat the arguments the EUphiles will make in an attempt to prevent this country regaining independence.  This is the sensible, reasoned and carefully thought through argument Harrogate Agenda campaigners have developed and are advancing.  This is another reason for everyone who believes in democracy, personal freedom and independent nation states to look at the Harrogate Agenda, support it and promote it in their area.

The Harrogate Agenda offers a rational and balanced grassroots alternative to the untrustworthy political parties and the vested interests of the establishment.  I’m proud to support it and I hope all genuine democrats will too.  You can read some more about the Harrogate Agenda at the excellent Boiling Frog and Witterings from Witney.

Harrogate Agenda live blog

Connectivity permitting, on this post we will be blogging live from the second Harrogate Agenda meeting taking place today in Leamington Spa. Updates also via Twitter. If you want to tweet about today’s meeting please use the hashtag #HarrogateAgenda

Live blog

1725 Reflecting on the meeting today the group has achieved a great deal in a short space of time. But no one is under any illusions, the positive vision of achieving a truly democratic country will be years in the making. A lot of work will need to be done to help people understand the concept and envisage a future where ordinary folk decide this country’s direction rather than the politicians. This is a worthwhile movement that has no interest in appealing to cheap ‘celebrity’ endorsement or dictating what others must do. This is about changing the UK for the better and bringing about a settlement that results in genuine localised people power and the neutering of the establishment. We will continue carrying the message and hoping more people will join in the journey to transform the UK for the better.

1558 The meeting concludes after a check for any other business.  We have ratified the 6 Demands, discussed the campaign’s organisation structure, explored the Harrogate Agenda’s strategic approach and looked at the mechanism for withdrawal from the EU in a way that secures the interests of Britain’s business and ability to export our goods to our neighbours in a way that is legal in the EU and protected by WTO agreements.

1507 The fine details of how UKIP’s EU withdrawal plan would prevent our ability to export to the remaining EU member states are discussed, demonstrating how EU law would stop imports from the UK. The answer is to keep all EU law in place upon withdrawal and slowly establish trade agreements to preserve a single market via the EEA, before treaties enable laws to be repealed.

1423 Leaving the EU is not the aim of the Harrogate Agenda. However delivery of the Harrogate Agenda would make membership of the EU incompatible with democratic people power in a localised form.

1415 An excellent lunch is now over and Richard states to somewhat surprised attendees: “I do not want to leave the EU…… if all it means is handing power from one bunch of unaccountable morons in Brussels to another groups of unaccountable morons in Westminster.” It makes no sense to focus all energies on exiting the EU unless there is something that serves the interest of the people to move to. Without real democracy and a positive vision of the future first it would be out of the frying pan and into the fire.

1259 Andy rounds off with the most defining strategic part of our campaign, using the words of John Lennon:

When it gets down to having to use violence then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humour.

1245 Andy is now giving the group an insight into strategy concerning social movements. Again this all lends itself to a campaign to advance ideas that will bring about people power and true democratic control, correcting the inverted relationship between master and servant. People will hold the power, but it won’t happen with a directive approach or top down cascade of what the people should do with their power.

1223 Success with our efforts will be when our ideas are absorbed into the public consciousness and accepted generally as the way this country should work. That will put pressure on the politicians as the people demand power and actively work to take it back. It may take many years but it will be done away from the establishment, without celebrity endorsement faux glamour. Ideas and the reasonableness of our vision are king.

1215 A fascinating insight from Richard about how the success of the Harrogate Agenda in the future can be measured by the extent to which the people in the room have been forgotten. This is not an electoral campaign, it is a campaign of ideas for people to recognise, identify with and push forward. Lessons from the way other campaigns have flounderehare well learned and being applied to this effort to democracy real democracy.

1150 A quick coffee break and now refreshed the attendees are back in the room and the agenda item for discussion is the group’s organisation and structure.

1121 The pamphlet being prepared about what we are looking to achieve is the foundation of our push for democracy. It isn’t a stand alone document. Social media, public meetings, specific campaigns,  our thinking and actions via those and other mediums will be founded in our demands and the principles we embody. The document will be a reference point. Our efforts will be far more interactive and high profile.

1102 Discussion explores concerns about what achieving the 6 Demands means for the constitutional settlement in the UK. Answer in the room from Tony is that the 6 Demands only take back power and give it to the people. The Harrogate Agenda is not dictatorial. The people will decide what to do with the power taken back from the establishment.

1045 The demand for a directly elected Prime Minister is provoking excellent debate in the room. Would having a directly elected PM unleash a bigger beast than we have now? This concern is addressed by a focus on more local ‘bottom up power’ meaning the PM would have a different set of responsibilities than now.

1000 The delegates have arrived and coffee is flowing. The mood in the room is upbeat and there is an air of anticipation and a real sense that we can achieve something significant.

Harrogate Agenda – round 2 in Leamington Spa.

When addressing matters of supreme importance and concern timing is everything.  So it is that with the crisis in politics in this country being given centre stage, and in the wake of the spectacle of nearly 9 in 10 voters rejecting the scraps from the establishment’s table that invited them to choose Police and Crime Commissioners from a roster of party hacks and sharp elbowed former coppers, the next stage in the construction of the Harrogate Agenda takes place in Leamington Spa at the Woodland Grange, from where I hope to provide a live blog here and updates on Twitter here.  The timing could not be better in focussing minds on the job in hand.

As Richard explains on his blog, what we are trying to do is re-make the link between power and responsibility.  Those who have to suffer the consequences of them, should be those who make the final decisions.  ‘They’ are always the people.  That is real democracy, not the sham of being handed a vote that grants us Hobson’s choice by providing candidates who all think the same way and who, once elected, do as they please and are unaccountable until we are given the choice to replace them with a political clone who will continue with the establishment’s agenda.

After a successful planning meeting in Harrogate (that I was unable to attend through illness), the next in the series of development meetings on the Harrogate Agenda takes place today in Leamington.  At this meeting the attendees will finalise the six demands that form a positive alternative vision for real change and true democracy.  Thereafter the formal structures will be put in place along with the plans to promote and progress them, leading up to a mass public meeting next year.

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