So, The Government won.
Now that the party leaders have completed their negotiations to decide who the managers will be, they will still have to sit at the table with Sir Humphrey, who will tell them what they can and cannot do:
Sir Humphrey will, in turn, consult with the banking fraternity:
Now that no one party has an overall majority, it might be more difficult to conceal the fact revealed by Clare Short in her book ‘An Honorable Deception?’ that we have not had cabinet government in the UK since 1997. It should be just a little more difficult for a future Tony Blair to push war plans through cabinet without objections from other parties.
The big debate now is about proportional representation, since the party holding the balance of power has just 57 MPs rather than the 150 that would be expected if it represented the national share of the vote. The problem with proportional representation is that it breaks the link between MPs and their constituents, and that could make MPs even less accountable to the voters.
My own system of ‘Every Vote Counts’ would solve that problem. Under the Every Vote Counts system the results of the election would have been: Parliamentary votes: Conservatives 235;Labour 190; Liberal Democrats 150; Others 77. Parliamentary seats:Conservatives 306; Labour 258; Liberal Democrats 57; Others: 28.
In other words, the numbers of seats would be exactly as at present, but the voting power of MPs in the Commons would be weighted to represent the proportion of votes gained by their parties nationwide. Where a free vote of conscience is allowed, MPs would vote as individuals, and the party weightings would not apply. Such a system, which I had previously referred to as ‘Shifted PR’, because it shifts the proportional weighting from the electorate to parliamentary voting, has other advantages, too. People with minority views throughout the country would be more likely to vote, and so people may begin to reengage in the democratic process. Tactical voting would be reduced, and changes in parliamentary boundaries would be less critical in deciding who is to manage the country. There would then be a credible mechanism for anomolies in one parliament to be reduced for the next. The big disadvantage of such a system is that people will find it difficult to believe that the problem can be solved so simply.
One problem with any electoral system, however, is that it requires a certain amount of intelligence and common sense to run it. Even in the election we have just experienced under the simple ‘First Past the Post’ system, a nationwide epidemic of stupidity seems to have broken out, with
reports of people queueing up outside polling stations and finally being unable to vote when the deadline of ten o’clock had arrived, either because not enough ballot papers had been printed, or because the authorities had not allocated enough manpower
In some instances extra man power was called in from the local police station, but the police tackled the voters rather than the problem. The problem turned out to be that many authorities could not cope with an increase in voter turnout of a massive 4%. It seems that nobody has overall responsibility for the election arrangements, a common problem in British politics
Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, before the election,compared the UK electoral system with that of Uzbekistan’s.
On the issue of whether there was real choice between the candidates, he wrote: “International electoral monitoring bodies pay a great deal of attention to this. For example, in December's parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan, it was the lack of real choice between five official parties, all supporting President Karimov's programme, on which the OSCE focused its criticism”. He went on to ask: “How different is the UK,really? For example, I want to see an immediate start to withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan; I am increasingly sceptical of the EU;and I do not want to see a replacement for the vastly expensive Trident nuclear missile system. On each one of those major policy points, I am in agreement with at least 40% of the UK population, but on none of those points is my view represented by any of the three major political parties”. He also outlines various malpractices in the UK electoral system,summarising with: “So, there we have British elections today: an unfair electoral system, censorship of candidates' electoral addresses, little real political choice for voters, widespread postal ballot-rigging and elections administered by partisan council officials in a corrupt political climate”. He finally puts the question “So are British elections still free and fair?” and answers it with “If this were a foreign election I was observing, I have no doubt that my answer would be no”.
The Guardian’s heading of “British democracy: no better than Uzbekistan's” wasn’t actually his.
The day before the election the police were reported to have launched their biggest ever investigation into election fraud.
This is the democracy that we have been exporting to Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems that post-9/11 the rules of democracy have changed. The ‘enemy within’ is no longer the Communists, but the Islamists, a term, like ‘Al Qaida’, invented in the West. Terrorism in the West no longer comes from such groups as the Red Brigade, reportedly supported by Operation Gladio, but from ‘Islamists’ in ‘Al Qaida’,sometimes supported by little evidence, even when carried out in area sunder heavy video surveillance, as were the London bombings of July 7, 2005. At least Big Brother Watch (http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/) has reported some commitments from the political parties to reduce statesurveillance of the population. In their newsletter of May 7 they saythat a majority of MPs in the House of Commons have pledged to roll back the surveillance state.
“… the nation has voted to support pro-privacy and pro-liberty parties on policies like the national identity database,the DNA register, CCTV, stop and search, covert surveillance and thepower of the state to enter private property or monitor our behaviour with intrusive data chips”, they say.
Further encouraging noises came from Conservative shadow justice minister Dominic Grieve, who told the Mail on Sunday that the investigation into the death of government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly should be reopened because the public ‘have not been reassured’ bythe official verdict that he killed himself.
In a letter passed to The Mail on Sunday, he praised a group of doctors who are campaigning for a coroner’s inquest into Dr Kelly’s death, and questioned the judgment of Lord Hutton, who chaired the inquiry into the death. Two months earlier the newspaper had revealed that Lord Hutton had secretly ruled that evidence relating to the case, including Dr Kelly’spost-mortem report, should not be released for 70 years.
On the day that the Prime Minister was giving evidence to the Chilcott Inquiry, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker was calling for a reopening ofthe inquest into Dr Kelly’s death, in a speech in the House of Commons.
“A death certificate was issued in the name of the Oxfordshire coroner,giving the reasons for death. It was issued on 18 August 2003 - significantly, just barely after the Hutton inquiry started sitting. What was the point of an inquiry to investigate the circumstance ssurrounding the death of David Kelly if the Oxfordshire coroner, through an aborted inquest process - and that is what it was - rushed out a certificate giving the reasons for death before Lord Hutton had evenconsidered the matter?”, he asked.
He called for a “proper inquest” on the grounds of insufficiency of inquiry and the discovery of new facts or evidence. He accused Lord Hutton of not doing his job properly, describing the Hutton inquiry as “a charade of a legal process”.
Norman Baker had previously researched the issue, and is the author of the book‘The Strange Death of David Kelly’ published in 2007.
Referring to evidence which he himself had discovered through a Freedom of Information request to Thames Valley police, he asked MPs, “Why was it left to me to find that out?” I think a lot of us in the truth movement feel like that over a whole range of issues where official cover-ups are suspected. Pressure for an inquiry into the invasion of Afghanistan may take a little longer to build up. The longer that takes, the more time there will be for public opinion to soften regarding the possibility that war, too, could have been launched on the basis of deception. There was very little discussion of the war during the election campaign, and I began to wonder how that could be,
when 63% of the population thought that the UK should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end ofthe year, or so,rising to 77% in a later poll
I found a leaked CIA document on the wikileaks.org website, outlining how public opinion in France and Germany should be manipulated in favour of the war, in the event that not mentioning the war should turn out not to be enough to allow politicians to ignore public opinion. I wrote about that in my April newsletter, and had an article published in Le Monde Diplomatique.
Then I put three alternative questions forward for a local hustings meeting, one of which was whether candidates had had instructions from their parties not to mention the war (see no.13).
Lo and behold, we then had a half page in the local newspaper on candidates’ views on the Afghan war. The division was clear: candidates for the main parties supported the official line, whereas candidates for the small parties wanted to bring troops out.
I then received a letter from my Conservative candidate, Richard Benyon,saying, “I believe that there should be an enquiry into the Afghan conflict in due course; I would like it to ask very serious questionsabout post conflict stabilisation”. Even though that would limit the scope of the inquiry, to exclude the reasons that we invaded Afghanistanin the first place, at least it’s a beginning. If we can get support for a public inquiry into the war, then we can haggle about the details later. Of course, such an inquiry would have to consider how British troops were supporting the war objective, which we were told was to “get Osama bin Laden dead or alive”.
For that we would need to know what evidence they had that Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan, and if he was, where in Afghanistan he would have been. They would also have to show evidence to support the idea that fighting the Taliban would help them secure that war objective. Were the Taliban hiding Osama bin Laden? This would raise questions over the evidence presented in the US extradition request to the Afghan government, and any other documentation that would be required to support the idea that the Afghan government had been acting illegally or unreasonably in not handing over Osama bin Laden to the Americans. I don’t think the public are fully convinced any longer. Every time someone asks “Why are we in Afghanistan?” they reveal doubts on the official version of events. If people were fully convinced that defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan was vital to our national security, I don’t think 77% of the population would want us to withdraw our troops by the end of the year or so. Such activity may have opened up a little chink in the conspiracy of silence over the war, but how can the lid be kept on such an enormous issue in such an effective manner?
It wasn’t just the politicians and the press. Where were the main campaigning groups? The Stop the War Coalition was capable of filling Trafalgar Square when protesting against the Iraq war, so where were they during the election campaign in connection with the Afghan war? The 9/11 Truth movement in London used to have some visibility, with regular public meetings and demonstrations in Parliament Square, yet everyone now seems to be suffering from burn-out.
Even the Esperantists are suffering from burn-out. We set up Esperanto Lobby in 1972 and two years later had a majority in the House of Commons in a parliamentary group, thus demonstrating what adedicated group of one and a half thousand people can achieve. How times have changed. In 1999 there was an epidemic of stupidity, which disabled key people from actually achieving anything any longer. Now the national association is claiming that as a ‘Charity’ they are not allowed to contact members of parliament.
Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties, had a membership of 9000 when I joined for a year in 2006, yet in the mass media we only seem to hear from their office staff, mainly their director, a former Home Office barrister. Even at their AGM it was their former Home Office barrister who was in control, rather than the elected president. With a lobbying force of 9 000 they could really have been having some impact on current issues of encroaching state control and surveillance, but I saw no attempt to encourage ordinary members to get involved. Indeed, one resolution at the AGM was proposing to expell any member of the committee who made any statement to the press which had not beenapproved by the committee. I was the first to speak out against that,saying that such a resolution was going against what Liberty stood for. The resolution was overwhelmingly defeated at that meeting. But would I have been in a better position to gain publicity in my local newspaperfor the dangers of CCTV had I remained in Liberty? I doubt it.
It seems that the best way to campaign on social issues nowadays is what I suppose we could call ‘guerilla campaigning’. Individuals do what they can, and remain in loose association, with small groups springing uphere and there, with new groups forming as old ones become ineffective. In London, some of us have regrouped, and are continuing the old-style 9/11 meetings that we used to have. On the Bank Holiday Monday of May 3 we had 14 people present, and I think we all found it a useful opportunity for exchanging news and views. The main topic was unexplained aspects of the 9/11 attacks, as shown on a series of videoclips. There is still no credible explanation of how an essentially aluminium aircraft could hit a massive steel-framed structure withoutjust crumbling up, but appearing to glide effortlessly through the tower as if it were made of butter, and then coming out of the other side.There are various speculative ideas, but no theories. Then how did masses of concrete disintegrate into dust? Could thermite, thermate or nanothermite explain that? Events of such intensity are so far outside our everyday experiences that it would be dangerous just to guess.
Nick Kollerstrom said a few words about hisbook ‘Terror on the Tube’ and its new website(http://www.terroronthetube.co.uk). That website is a mine of information on the events of July 7, 2005.
The 7/7 issue, too, is one which is crying out for a public inquiry, but we are unlikely to get one in the current climate. The contradictions in the official story, as pointed out in page after page of Nick’s book,are just too shocking for most people to take in at this stage. There will undoubtedly be further fun and games before a public parliamentary inquiry can be set up. There will undoubtedly be further evasions, denigrations and disruptions on the way. All this leads us back to the question of how our democracy is being usurped, and how the invisible government really works. We have some of the inside story from former MI5 officers David Shayler and Annie Machon regarding the penetration of political groups and groups in the peace movement.
Now we find we have to turn the question around: what sort of membership associations promoting social change would not be infiltrated and manipulated? I think we need to take a closer look at the grass roots democracy of our daily lives. The advice I was hearing for over forty years was that if you want to influence things in an organisation it’s best not to resign, but to influence things from within.
Anti-war campaigner George Galloway told the House of Commons on 24 June 2009 that the Labour Party lost half its membership because of the Iraq war:
Now imagine what could have happened had they stayed in the party. Together with like-minded people who did not resign, they would have had the voting power to change the entire leadership of the party. For that to happen they would have had to have come to terms with the idea that the party had been usurped by a small group which did not seem to have the traditional values of the party.
The idea of influencing things from within applies just as much to the opposition, as Sir Humphrey explained in the video I linked to right at the beginning of this piece. Once this is generally understood, then there can be a way forward to restoring truth and democracy.
In 1915 another anti-war campaigner outlined a letter to the diplomats of the world, to be sent out after the end of the Great War. It contained just one demand: that after the war it should be declared that every country “morally and materially should be fully owned by all of its people”.
Ludovic Zamenhof had come to the realisation that internal democracy is the key to peaceful co-existence.