Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “Americanisation”

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…

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Labour won’t find its soul by navel gazing

… last year’s election defeat could be reduced to two key factors – Labour’s failure to pay enough attention to “economic competence”, and the fact that “the public did not perceive Ed Miliband as a credible prime minister”.
The Guardian, 1 January 2016 : When are Labour party ‘moderates’ going to do more than just moan?

But behind that there is a rejection of Labour’s attempts to hold power by trying to ape the Tories – they can never be “better Tories than the Tories”. If unrestrained global capitalism is the name of the game you might as well vote Tory.

But if unrestrained global capitalism is not the name of the game … Read more…

What about the Elephants?

This (2015 UK) General Election seems to consist of lots of minor and pretty irrelevant skirmishes. The major issues seem to be un-addressed in the election.

So what are these elephants in the room? Read more…

Undercover Boss

Channel 4 has just finished a re-run of the American version of Undercover Boss, the TV programme based on a senior executive donning a disguise and going to work on some pretext in his (or her) own company and getting new insights into the organisation.

The format is a touch artificial but the contrast between the UK version and the American version is worrying. Read more…

London is a foreign country; they do things differently there

The BBC Reports:

Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing and crime, authorised the [Metropolitan Police] force to buy the cannon from the German Federal Police.

The mayor’s office said: “By purchasing them now we are able to save over £2.3m compared to buying new devices.”

The water cannon will not be deployed until the home secretary authorises their use in England and Wales.
BBC News Website 10 June 2014 : Metropolitan Police given permission to buy water cannon

Pre-ordered in the expectation that the Home Secretary will escalate the force that the Met is allowed to use. Read more…

Manifesto: Introduction

We are now less than a year from an Election and there is much speculation about how various parties are going to do. Doubtless come the Autumn conferences we shall start to see policy proposals coalesce into manifestos.

It will be interesting (post “tuition fees”) whether parties are a bit more cautious as to what they promise or whether they will make “red line” statements that may inhibit any coalition formation.

Read more…

Dangers of One Dimensional Politics

One dimensional politics is always dangerous. I think we are seeing two other dimensions that might be becoming more important that the plain economic right/left dimension: Read more…

Food banks: Big Society in Action or Society in Failure?

The use of food banks (a staple part of America’s “safety net” e.g. Feeding America) are a growing part of our society.

In 2011-12 food banks fed 128,687 people nationwide, in 2012-13 we anticipate this number will rise to over 290,000. Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits are causing more and more people to come to food banks for help.

The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to open new food banks nationwide. With over 325 food banks currently launched, our goal is for every town to have one. Trussell Trust

The Conservatives, who seem to have a desire to ape so many aspects of “the American System” probably view food banks as welcome evidence of the “Big Society”. Read more…

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