Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category ““Anachronisms””

Shop in Shops or On-line

My mother’s old TV broke down yesterday. She is in a nursing home and spends a lot of her time watching TV. Immediate replacement today was required.

You would think that this would be a classic case for “going to the shops”. After a frustrating 4 hours, I wish I had bought on-line last night. Read more…

The Crisis of Indirect Democracy and its Consequences

Indirect democracy is a fragile child. In effect we say we (“democratically”) elect representatives to a body that then “does governing for us”. This is in stark contrast to direct democracy – which in its most extreme state has everybody having a vote on everything.

Parliaments should be shining examples of indirect democracy at work. They consist of “representatives”, not mandated delegates, who collectively form a body that should be recognised as “representative”. Their legitimacy depends, I believe, on three factors.

  • Whether elections to the parliament are recognised as “free and fair”
  • Whether the resulting parliament is recognised as “representative”
  • Whether the parliament through its collective actions and the actions of its members retains the “respect of the people”.

In the UK, I think we are, to a degree, failing on all three of the above. Read more…

England’s Confused Nationalism (1. Sport and Athems)

During the Summer of 2014 Democratic Audit ran a series of posts about the (English) National Anthem in response to Roy Hodgson’s call for England players to sing the National Anthem at the World Cup (An Association Football Championship, m’lud).

The issue of course is that the Anthem in question is “God Save the Queen” – one of the hardest working Anthems in the songbook as it fills the following roles:

  • National Anthem for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Salute for the Head of State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (and other Realms)
  • Default Anthem for some (not all) England sporting teams (most notably the Association Football and Rugby Union Teams)

I have always found this odd, reflecting the confused national identity of England and indeed the United Kingdom. Given that the Scots (or more accurately, those in Scotland) have had a thorough examination of their national identity, perhaps England may reflect on its sporting identity as a preliminary warm-up to a more thorough review.

In the new year (2016) Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins intends to bring his English National Anthem Bill to Parliament on 13 January.

Read more…

Honour and Dishonour

Once again the honours list gives us something to discuss over the new year – but have we got to the stage where something drastic must be done?

  • Negative Political Campaigning is deemed a “public service” worthy of a knighthood,
  • Another Liberal MP, kicked out after a single term in coalition government office, is deemed worthy of a knighthood,
  • A bureaucrat who seems to have been spectacularly unimpressive in leading two agencies is deemed worthy of a dame-hood, and finally
  • A “Windsor” gets a dame-hood for public service (nepotism? 😉

And yet we still have plain old Mr Oliver Letwin – despite more than 30 years of public service!

Read more…

Donald J Trump is unhinged

Republican presidential rival Lindsey Graham, said: “What has been in the past absurd and hateful has turned dangerous. .. Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level.” …

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump’s proposed ban [on Muslims entering the US] would apply to “everybody”, including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country. Another Trump staffer confirmed that the ban would also apply to American Muslims who were currently overseas – presumably including members of the military and diplomatic service.
The Guardian 8 December 2015 : Donald Trump: ban all Muslims entering US

What has provoked this – as if this “man” works on reason? Read more…

Agnostics, Atheists and Republicans in Parliament and at Church for National Commemorations

We used to discriminate heavily against non-Anglicans. We have changed the rules about requiring people to swear Oaths (before God) before gaining Probate, giving Evidence in Court, or taking a seat in the Houses of Parliament.

The playing (and singing) of the National Anthem at the end of a Cinema Screening or Theatrical Performance has almost totally dropped out of practice. Most of us still stand for the national anthem – but do not sing it.

Except in church where it normally sung.

So what happens if you are agnostic (or even atheist) and believe that our head of state should be elected – and you are elected to the sort of office where you are expected to attend national commemorations that have a religious element – lead by the established Church of England? (A possible problem for other Faiths as well?) Read more…

Politicians and Jesus

A few decades ago “being a Christian” might have been viewed as essential for anyone hoping to be selected as a Parliamentary candidate in the UK.

The fact that it is now “an issue” says something about how much we have changed – and something about modern politics. Read more…

Is an Unrepresentative Parliament a necessary EVEL?

The Scots (specifically the Scottish Nationalists at Westminster) look to be about to “save the fox“. That raises yet more questions about Cameron’s piecemeal approach to a new “constitutional settlement”.

This arises from the unanswered question about what the UK Parliament at Westminster should be. Whilst I have often complained that I am unrepresented in Parliament, I none-the-less subscribe to the belief that a Parliament should be a representative body rather than merely a body of representatives.

The difference is important and possibly holds the key to the current “Westminster Question”. Read more…

Inheritance Tax and Family Homes

A Conservative government would end inheritance tax on family homes worth up to £1m, David Cameron is to announce.

It means most homeowners in the UK would be able to pass on money to their children without paying tax.
BBC Website 11 April 2015 : Election 2015: Tories would cut inheritance tax

This seems wrong on so many grounds Read more…

Volunteers – In a Pickle

The Conservatives’ latest whimper from their Big Society study group – or what ever it is that thinks up these ideas – would be worrying if it was not so contradictory.

Under the Conservatives’ volunteering plans, a new law would be passed requiring public sector employers and companies with more than 250 employees to give staff up to three days a year to do voluntary work.

Employers would cover the cost.
BBC News Website 10 April 2015 : Election 2015: Cameron pledges ‘paid volunteering leave’

This is deeply “unconservative” and rather undermines the idea of people “giving their time to good causes”. Read more…

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