4. Not just democracy: Niebuhr’s liberal idealism had been rudely chastened in 1915, when as a pastor in Detroit he’d witnessed the bitter industrial strife between the Ford Motor Company and its workers. Thereafter Niebuhr never forgot that politics is about the conflict of interests and that political justice invariably takes the adulterated form of tolerable compromise. His consequent view of electoral democracy was strikingly unromantic: “Democracy”, he said, “is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems”.
UK — Electoral Naiveté
I used to blog a lot on a now defunct site called My Telegraph, as did a chap who I think called himself Atrium. Eventually Atrium disappeared in a fit of pique, I think it was because he had such little response to his many cri de coeur regarding his opinions. Observing Atrium was a salutary lesson that taught me a lot about blogging and I think I understand why he left My Telegraph in such a huff. It was (at least in a large part) an ‘age’ thing, Atrium was most probably in my peer group, retired and clearly with a lot of time to spend on the social media. He had forgotten that as a younger man, when in a job and had less time on his hands, he probably only talked of politicians who would put the world to rights. This was tempered by (what I assumed to be) his blind faith that the democracy of our public administration lay in hands of the electorate.
I would hope that my piquancy is not only tempered by an ever increasing understanding of the social media. However a recent article in MoneyWeek with the title ‘A Credit Score That Judges Your Politics’ caused me to have an Atrium moment, a cri de coeur if you will. Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay—or not. Think of a world run by politicians, one that you may already be living in, one that certainly one that portends your future!
While I did not vote in the recent UK local government elections or the UK 2019 general election, the following comments have been made about them in the social media.
Another, deeply depressed with the health of British democracy, sadly opined “I’m convinced that someone is going to get hurt because there’s lots of angry nutters who have had way too much internet”. Three short years ago an MP was assassinated in cold blood: in the wake of her death, much was written and said to the effect that we needed a kinder, better politics. We feel a long, long way from that. ‘Incompetent, self-interested s****’
This is the dejection election. Not in my lifetime has Britain faced such a miserable choice. Two vain, incompetent, mediocre charlatans are competing to become prime minister. For the Conservatives, we have the blustering, lying, oafish puffball Boris Johnson. In the Labour corner is the querulous, wooden, sanctimonious Jeremy Corbyn. Can Boris Johnson Lie His Way Back Into Office?
Gargantuan spending plans are launched with no reform narrative — unless you count Labour’s belief that nationalisation is bound to improve public services even if it wipes out private investment. There has been a drain of talent from both front benches, and civil servants display quiet dread, alarmed by the lack of substance in their policy discussions with both parties. Incompetence, not ideology, is the worst thing about this election
1. The UK economy is hooked on rising asset prices. It’s certainly true that UK households are spending more than their income at an unprecedented rate. In the first quarter of 2017, they ran a deficit of £17.5bn, an annualised deficit of £70bn (i.e. £17.5 bn *4). This means the average UK household is set to spend an astonishing £2300 more than its income this year.
2. Dominic Cummings has some tough love in store for us: Thing is, there’s more than a whiff of change in the wind, and it’s likely that this “who dares wins” prime minister may throw caution to it. The slightly chilling new lexicon that’s emerging to describe the “government of the people” may well be how that change is branded.
3. Election dissection: Last night was a clear cut election – Boris Johnson won, and Jeremy Corbyn comprehensively lost. The lesson is that parties need to understand the question the country is asking in that time and that place – and then spend their time ensuring they are the answer to it. Boris has won that battle hands down in 2019. The future, as always, is another land.
5. Is British Democracy Becoming A Competition of Incompetence? Will a tipping point occur here, when enough conclude that it’s the system we should be voting on not another set of people destined for a lifetime of underachievement?
Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:
- A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
- A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
- The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
- A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
- Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹The Electoral System and British Politics: This Constitution Society report reconsiders the debate over electoral reform in light of the political developments that have occurred since 2011. It analyses the impact that FPTP has on UK politics, and how this relates to the arguments traditionally made in its defence. It then discusses some of the wide range of alternative electoral systems and explores their potential impacts using evidence from places where they are in use. Finally, it considers the questions of how any reform process could and should work. This report aims not to press the argument for one particular system, but to clarify the issues and options at stake, and so to ful l the Constitution Society’s mission of promoting a more informed debate about constitutional reform in the UK.
A.P. Herbert AI Albert Haddock Banks blog book books budget budget deficit C.S. Lewis censorship Charles Dickens China Civil Service constitution Crime CRT cryptocurrency CWG debt deficit democracy economics education ethics EU euro fiat money Film France freedom of expression gdp government history human-rights internet J M Keynes language Law Ludwig Von Mises Margaret Thatcher Matt morality music Musical national debt New Labour NHS opinion parody personal PFI poetry police Police & Crime Commissioners politics Quantitative Easing research school Screwtape Sir Ethelred Rutt K.C. social-media Social Media Social Welfare statistics T.E. Utley taxation terrorism Thatcher UK Unemployment USA Victor Hugo war war on terror
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