The financial crash of 2008, with its attendant series of recessions around the World, has affected the UK in a manner that makes it pertinent to ask the question, ‘are we deluding ourselves in thinking we are living in a democratic country?’

To avoid having to substantiate this through a series of analyses defining, or trying to define, what we mean by democracy or any other form of government by whatever name, because this just becomes a long drawn out discussion on the meaning of terms and will always be inconclusive, I want to set out some parameters that, to me, are common sense expressions of what, to me, democracy means. That is government for the common good of its citizens as voted for by the Majority of the People.

Purists will continue to argue about the meanings of ‘common good’ but to me we are so far away from reaching any targetted ideal that at present we need only to treat these words in a general way. Definitions come when you are zeroing in on the specific whereas here the examples to be given will have to define the  meaning of the question.

It is said that a falling tide exposes the wrecks and the wrecks revealed in public life, post 2008, are so numerous and so entrenched that surely one is obliged to ask, ‘how can anyone say that we have been governed for the common good over the past 30 years?’ Any government that purports to govern for the common good may take its eye off the ball to let through a coruption or conspiracy of vested interests in one or two cases before identifying such and taking remedial action, but to have a falling tide expose a relaxation of ideals, or targets, or aspirations – call them what you will – on a scale so extensive as has been perceived over the past few years, must incline any thinking person to believe that the system of our governance is corrupt to its very core and cannot by any means be governing in accordance by the norms of democracy – for the common good.

We voted, yes. but we did not know all when we voted; so we voted blind. One of the tenets of democracy must be transparency and because we did not have this, we were deluded. But, who deluded us? Could it have been the very parties who have formed governments for the past 30 years? If not they, who?

The falling tide exposed our parliamentarians, as a class, to be grasping cheats enriching themselves from the public purse to an extent that was hidden from those who voted for them and paid them. We, the public. They were able to get away with this due to the compliance of the governments they were elected to hold to account. This is collusion or even conspiracy that when it exists in other countries they can aerially condemn as such but were quick to dismiss the first parliamentary standards head, Elizabeth Firth when she was prepared to do her job properly, and replaced her with a more amenable regulator.

Any form of government where the Executive are in collusion with the Legislative questions its democratic credentials. Just as the Judiciary can be corrupted by the Executive where, to give but one example, the choice of a compliant member of the Judiciary to oversee the investigation of the run up to the Iraq War where we saw in the Hutton Report how the Executive can select a compliant member of the Judiciary to write a report on the terms required by the Executive. Such examples that  breach the supposed independence of Powers mitigates against the public good by concealment and deception.

There is much written since 2008 about a free press – the hallmark of a democracy. Free press is a meaningless slogan just as is that of democracy as a label when used by the perpetrators of its abuses. How can a press 80% dominated by businessmen with their commercial and political interests to trail by any rational measures be called ‘free.’ With their share of the distributed power available gained through usage of their trade they can, and have, made Governments dance to their tune, whereby the dilution or destruction of democracy’s aims are perverted. With transparency destroyed, this ‘free press’ was able to break the law with impunity for many years on a massive scale. They corrupted whole segments of the police, right up to the top echelons, obtained from governments such legislation that enforced their interests and those of their commercial allies with loop holes for tax avoidance and regulator bye-passing. The unholy alliance created within this web of widening corruption came to incorporate the regulators in whatever sector of society they were selected to regulate. The financial is the most obvious example but the failure and betrayal was universal; the accountants and auditors, the credit agencies, the so-called bodies of self-regulation; the police, the press; any and every body created to self-regulate any segment of our organised society failed in their duties. A terrible indictment of an army of watch-dogs who failed to bark.    

Within all the strands of revealment post 2008 of what had up to then been concealed we see that these powers within our society who, supposedly are working for us and our good were in one way working in compliance with one another to further their own agendas while, at the same time were engaged in spying on each other and the public. The police had damning files on politicians, the press spied on the public as well as the powerful through phone hacking and other journalistic tricks while the government spied on a massive scale on just about everyone.

The roll-call of failure and disgrace that has emerged is more than can be resolved by any one person. It can, and has been, revealed by such open thinkers as the recently deceased Tony Benn. But this is a job requiring a political new broom and for the long term. There is a need for one of the two main political parties to confess to the past misdeeds in which they were complicit and a commitment articulated by that party’s leader to correct the past mis-government and, until there is such a baring of breasts the consequences of the watershed of  2008 that rocked the very foundations of our society  will continue and our society to crumble from the un-admitted and uncorrected venal actions of an unreformed  ruling establishment by simply fooling themselves and continuing to try and fool us, the public, that we live in a democracy rather than a free market oligarchy.

An add-on in JANUARY 2020

A recent General Election (December 2019) resulted in the return of a Conservative Party Government with a clear majority of 80 Parliamentarian seats. This is a Party that has inflicted untold misery on our Country through a policy of austerity over the past 10 years. But their majority of 80 seats obtained in the recent election? This was gained ‘democratically’ with 29% of the votes of all those entitled to vote. 

MARCH 2014