Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What's wrong with politics

Continuing with Maggies speeches and their relevance, I’m posting another. Throughout our history we have seen politics waver and then evolve and for the most part it is us that has pushed the envelope. In itself reason to be cheerful.

It is our job continually to retest old assumptions and to seek new ideas. But we must not try to find one unalterable answer that will solve all our problems for none can exist.

“The dissatisfaction with politics runs too deep both here and abroad. People have come to doubt the future of the democratic system and its institutions. They distrust the politicians and have little faith in the future”

Why the present distrust?

Let us try to assess how and why we have reached this pass. What is the explanation? Broadly speaking I think we have not yet assimilated many of the changes that have come about in the past thirty to forty years.

First, I don't think we realise sufficiently how new our present democratic system is. We still have comparatively little experience of the effect of the universal franchise which didn't come until 1928. And the first election in this country which was fought on the principle of one person one vote was in 1950. So we are still in the early stages of dealing with the problems and opportunities presented by everyone having a vote.

Secondly, this and other factors have led to a different party political structure. There is now little room for independent members and the controversies which formerly took place outside the parties on a large number of measures now have to take place inside. There is, and has to be room for a variety of opinions on certain topics within the broad general principles on which each party is based.

Thirdly, from the party political structure has risen the detailed programme which is placed before the electorate. Return to power on such a programme has led to a new doctrine that the party in power has a mandate to carry out everything in its manifesto. I myself doubt whether the voters really are endorsing each and every particular when they return a government to power. This modern practice of an election programme has, I believe, influenced the attitudes of some electors; all too often one is now asked ‘what are you going to do for me?’, implying that the programme is a series of promises in return for votes. All this has led to a curious relationship between elector and elected. If the elector suspects the politician of making promises simply to get his vote, he despises him, but if the promises are not forthcoming he may reject him. I believe that parties and elections are about more than rival lists of miscellaneous promises—indeed, if they were not, democracy would scarcely be worth preserving.

Fourthly, the extensive and all-pervading development of the welfare state is also comparatively new, not only here but in other countries as well. You will recollect that one of the four great freedoms in President Roosevelt's wartime declaration was ‘freedom from want.’ Since then in the Western world there has been a series of measures designed to give greater security. I think it would be true to say that there is no longer a struggle to achieve a basic security. Further, we have a complete new generation[fo 2] whose whole life has been lived against the background of the welfare state. These developments must have had a great effect on the outlook and approach of our people even if we cannot yet assess it properly.

Fifthly, one of the effects of the rapid spread of higher education has been to equip people to criticise and question almost everything. Some of them seem to have stopped there instead of going on to the next stage which is to arrive at new beliefs or to reaffirm old ones. You will perhaps remember seeing in the press the report that the student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit has been awarded a degree on the result of his past work. His examiners said that he had posed a series of most intelligent questions. Significant? I would have been happier had he also found a series of intelligent answers.

Sixthly, we have far more information about events than ever before and since the advent of television, news is presented much more vividly. It is much more difficult to ignore situations which you have seen on film with your own eyes than if you had merely read about them, perhaps skimming the page rather hurriedly. Television is not merely one extra means of communication, it is a medium which because of the way it presents things is radically influencing the judgments we have to make about events and about people, including politicians.

Seventhly, our innate international idealism has received many nasty shocks. Many of our people long to believe that if representatives of all nations get together dispassionately to discuss burning international problems, providence and goodwill will guide them to wise and just conclusions, and peace and international law and order will thereby be secured. But in practice a number of nations vote not according to right or wrong even when it is a clear case to us, but according to their national expediencies. And some of the speeches and propaganda to explain blatant actions would make the angels weep as well as the electorate.

All of these things are a partial explanation of the disillusion and disbelief we encounter today. The changes have been tremendous and I am not surprised that the whole system is under cross-examination. I welcome healthy scepticism and questioning.

It is our job continually to retest old assumptions and to seek new ideas. But we must not try to find one unalterable answer that will solve all our problems for none can exist.

Margaret Thatcher 1968

Full Speech at Margaret Thatcher Foundation

Some interesting debate going on

Forget red, blue and yellow. Now the choice is Progressives v Reactionaries

Decline & Fall in the US


At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Anonymous Rastaman said...

My posts aren't taking.....

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Anonymous Rastaman said...

Well finally....
All that goddamned typing I did before, lost in the ether....

Since I don't feel like doing it all again, this will be brief. Ms Thatcher is full of crap on this one. The sole reason Democracy is getting trashed is because the greedy, self serving, corrupt politicians who are running our countries care only about their own wealth and power and nothing about making improvements. They promise all kinds of wonderful stuff and not a fucking one of them ever delivers. It's not because Democracy is "new", Jesus Christ, the Romans invented it, how new is that? They let it degenerate into dictatorship for the exact same reasons it's going to hell again.

As for your homeless Brian Haw, 3 days of taking up public space the rest of you might have wanted to use would have been generously lenient. But FIVE YEARS? This guy found himself a way to get fed while being homeless, by adopting a cause. Piss on him, he took Freedom of Expression and abused the hell out of it and still got only a light warning. How much of the front of Parliament was he going to spread across with his BS signs? Could any average citizen reasonably expect to spread out across the sidewalk like that, in everyones way, and stay there for 5 years? Everything has it's limits.
I think what the world needs is a good dose of anarchy, get rid of a lot of excess population and level a few playing fields.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

You are TOTALLY missing the point in both posts Rasta. Ill come back to you when ive a little more time.

For now-

Read Thatcher again - shes talking about the WAY we vote and how issues are FOUGHT. Secondly she raises a MASSIVELY observant point on MEDIA influence. She then goes on to COVER the point you make above!

And finally the whole point about Lord Haw Haw is that if people finally wake up to the issues of free speech when some crusty loses his DOWN WITH IRAQ sign then it opens the debate wide up and Mr Down with America will be caught between a rock and a hard place. Get it?

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

also - It was corrupt when the Romans were using it. Or do you suppose the Senate was full of goodly little Romans wanting to do what was right-on for the little folk. Read Julius Caesar if you want to talk about corruption. But since then dmeocracy has taken on a little thing called universal suffrage just to throw an extra dimension into it all. That was what she was referring to.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Anonymous Enid said...

Obviously Rasta Mrs T's speeches are over your head. Do take the trouble to read them and would help. Generally the party in power tries to do 'something' for the electorate otherwise they would not get voted for again. Simplistic but true...It is different in the 'Third World' where generally 'politicians' usually line their own pockets. But democracy is very new in these places and it will take time to alter this situation. Finally Rasta I have a tendency to agree with you about that idiot with his boards taking up space enough is enough. As for anarchy...why not let Iran develop a MWD chuck one at Israel and then we can all chuch some back...sound like a good idea to you.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Anonymous mike said...

Its incredibly relevant today as this is exactly how we see the main parties posturing. The added dimension of manifesto, universal suffrage, immigration where you appeal to people and pull in more of those people to bolster your vote - all universal suffrage which is what she was talking about. Then there is the issue of carrying out all elements on your manifesto as fulfilling your duty as we saw Blair say and do on Human Rights. What a mess and how many people really understood it and were really voting for that at the time? Yet he used this to force through a 'manifesto pledge' to fulfill his duty...Great stuff here.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Blogger Rastaman said...

I didn't miss a thing. Thatcher blames everything except the politicians. The closest she comes is this little bit of mildly apologetic misdirection:

"If the elector suspects the politician of making promises simply to get his vote, he despises him, but if the promises are not forthcoming he may reject him. I believe that parties and elections are about more than rival lists of miscellaneous promises".

Woohoo, boy, that's hitting hard....

No, Maggie, it's all about you politicians making deals to enhance your own careers, at the expense of all the rest of us. And that is why I spoke up about this paean to Her Maggie Majesty. She was as good as politicians come, in my estimation, but let's not forget that she was only human.
Because I disagree does not make me stupid, Enid. Save your attacks on me for when I actually do screw up, and I'll do the same for you.

Yes, the Romans corrupted their own invention, Democracy. Didn't I say so? Yes, I did.
Alison, do I have to agree with everything you post? What would be the point of blogging if we all agreed with each other? Sure, M. Thatcher made some points but all of YOU are missing MINE, which is that Thatcher glossed over the primary cause of the decline in Democracy and no one could have expected her to do otherwise. She wouldn't have dared point out, as a politician, that political corruption was the rood cause. That, in itself, is CORRUPTION on the part of Thatcher, at least in my view. That's my point.

Self-promotion portion: Back in business once again with WordPress, and so far, spam-free.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Anonymous alison said...

No you dont have to agree with all my posts. you rarely if ever do. It seems me arguing back at you is the issue here. You are coming across as really ham fisted. Whats with that.

You said:

"It's not because Democracy is "new", Jesus Christ, the Romans invented it, how new is that?" then went off at a tangent

That wasnt what she said.

She was referring to universal suffrage being new. Not democracy!

This extends to the idea of corruption - where politicians skew their manifestos to tight issues one example of this is appealing to minority groups. It encompasses the idea of corruption and voter disillusionment as she cited and since '68 we havent moved on.

Its certainly an issue I have with politics as it stands today and is relevant to the UK.

Short of ridding the human race of corruption Rasta im not sure what you want us all to do.

Yes I agree they are all morally bankrupt, or most of them are but my vote is all i have to work with for now so im wondering how this will all play out.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Blogger Rastaman said...

Hmmm. Ok. Sorry if I seem ham-fisted, it's not my intent, tho probably I am. I never found being mild Mr. Milquetoast to be of much use in getting a point across, so yes, I would have to agree that I present arguments agressively.

Taking the Devils Advocate view sparks discussion, and I do it often even when I actually agree with a particular post, so don't take offense or think that I'm picking on you. I'm not and this is one of the few blogs I post on, because you do come up with good, worthy stuff.

I almost agree with our vote being all we have... It's -almost- all we have. Civil disobedience is a wonderful tool for change and I think more effective than voting. Too often our choices of who to vote for are a choice of poisons.

Also, I'm a dreamer as much as a realist. I dream of a society where we all treat each other decently, and I see the one I live in where we don't and probably never will. However, I keep harping on about the wrongs and inequities and lies and smugness and all of it, and I hope everyone else of conscience will do the same, simply to keep us awake and aware. Just like you do, Alison. We're actually a lot alike, maybe we just take a different approach.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Anonymous alison said...

Absolutely it does and im always playing Devils Advocate with Europe. I just thought this went off at the wrong tangent but we got there in the end! 'our choices of who to vote for are a choice of poisons' yes but right now in the uk they seem to have merged into one liberal poison.

At Saturday, 27 May, 2006, Blogger Wolfie said...

The Greeks invented it. The politicians don't have much power, that's true and we are hamstrung to the lesser evil every time. I've often suspected the best thing was to keep them on their toes and vote in a new government every time so they don't get to undo too much legal history.

At Monday, 29 May, 2006, Blogger MonicaR said...

Dang Wolfie - ya got here before me. I THOUGHT the Greeks invented democracy!

I have no answers - mostly the same questions Alison. Another very thoughtful entry.

At Monday, 29 May, 2006, Anonymous alison said...

To be fair I thought he meant representation & democracy which came about under the romans i thought...but yes technically they did. And in spite of it all im still none the wiser Monica!

At Monday, 29 May, 2006, Blogger Rastaman said...

Thank you Alison. That's exactly right. I certainly concede that it was the Greeks who invented it tho. About 100 years before the Romans started borrowing the idea from the Greeks. I put it the way I did as modern democracy really is copied much more from the Romans.

Any other non-thread nits anyone wishes to pick?

At Tuesday, 30 May, 2006, Blogger City Troll said...

I just love Maggie... I'v had the pleasure of hearing 3 of the best leaders in my lifetime. Thatcher, Reagan, and Nixon....

At Wednesday, 31 May, 2006, Blogger MonicaR said...

No. No more Rasta. Thanks anyway for the invite - love!


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