Monday, November 17, 2014

Voter Engagement

The Political Reform and Constitution Committee of the House of Commons has now reported on Voter engagement.
See the report:

You can respond to the report.   Written submissions by 9th January 2015

Extract from the Report:

19. We have been told that both the structure of political parties, and the way in which they 
are funded, should be reformed in such a way as to increase voter engagement. John E 
Strafford told us that the structure of political parties did not allow for “meaningful 
participation”, and that there was therefore little incentive to be a member of a political 
party.41 He suggested that individual party members should have a greater say over party 
matters, and that there should also be greater party activity at a regional level.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monarchy to a Republic and back 1603-1685

Updated weekly. See above. Latest update 27th April. "Democracy at the time of Charles II" 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Douglas Carswell and UKIP

Conservative calls for the voters to back them as that is the only way they will get a referendum on Europe do not stand up.   If UKIP's support continues they may well get 20-30 MPs in the General Election.   This could then give them the balance of power.   Their criteria for support would be the referendum.   The Conservatives would accept that and you can bet your bottom dollar that if the same proposal was put to Ed Milliband Labour would accept it also, so voting UKIP is more likely to get a referendum on Europe.   Are Tory MPs deluding themselves not to realise this? 
Douglas Carswell's defection to UKIP is a wake up call for the Conservative Party. The Party must now face up to issues that have been ignored for too long. It must re-connect with the grass roots of the Party. Douglas Carswell is quite right when he says that the Tory leadership was not “on the side” of many grass-roots Conservatives.
He is also correct when he alleges that "both the Conservative and Labour parties were treated as the private property of a “privileged elite” in Westminster.
We are operating a political system devised a hundred years ago. It is time to create democratic parties fit for the 21st century. Only in this way will the Leaderships get in touch with their grass roots and through them get in touch with the people. Zac Goldsmith's Bill for the recall of MPs should be brought in immediately, making MPs accountable to the people all the time instead of just at a General Election.
State finance should be withdrawn from all parties unless they have democratic constitutions which can be altered by their members on the basis of One Member One Vote.
As for the Conservative Party the Party Chairman should be elected and accountable to the members of the Party. The Party should have an Annual General Meeting to which every member is invited, the Party conference should have motions for debate and votes taken. In a democratic party, ultimately it should be the members that are sovereign.
Only by taking steps such as these will the catastrophic decline in membership be reversed.

Unless actions such as the above are taken now we will witness the terminal decline of our two major parties.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sin Taxes

People in the bottom fifth of the income stream who drink moderately, smoke and drive a car spend 37% of their disposable household income on sin taxes and VAT.   The comparable figure for people in the top fifth of the income stream is 15%
Halving "sin taxes" on fuel, tobacco and alcohol, scrapping green energy subsidies and returning the rate of VAT to 15% would reduce tax evasion, reduce black market activity, improve labour market flexibility and stimulate the economy.   Above all it would put money back in the pockets of those who are in greatest need of it.
"Which" magazine estimates that "green taxes" add £185 to the average household's annual £1,247 energy bill.
Virtually no other country in the EU has such high taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and fuel.   Halving tobacco duty would bring it close to the EU average and lowering VAT to 15% would bring it to a level that was the norm between 1979 and 1991.   Halving motor fuel duty would make it about the same price it was in Britain ten years ago.

 "Aggressively Regressive" by Institute of Economic affairs 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cameron is right for the wrong reasons on Jean-Claude Juncker

David Cameron is quite right to try and block Jean-Claude Juncker's candidadacy for president of the European Commission, but his reasons for blocking the candidacy are wrong.
The Commission is a powerful body and part of the legislative process of the European Union. It is not democratically accountable to the people of Europe. It would therefore be legitimate for Cameron to argue that the powers of the Commission should be removed and it should act like a civil service for Europe, in which case the position as president would not be so important.
On the other hand if Cameron does not want to do this he should make the case for the president of the Commission to be directly elected by and accountable to the people of the European Union. This would reduce the democratic deficit between the institutions of Europe and the people.

By arguing as he does, that the position of president should be determined by secret negotiation in closed rooms is an affront to democracy and Cameron will deservedly lose that argument.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Grammar Schools - if only!

A hundred and thirty-six grammar schools were founded during the long reign of Elizabeth I, another 83 under James I, 59 under Charles I, and 80 under Charles II.   Many of these foundations failed over time, but Christopher Wase, who set out upon a national survey of grammar schools in 1673, found 704 in existence at that date.
A boy normally entered grammar school aged seven or eight, and stayed there another six or seven years if he was to complete his education.   His school day began at six or seven in the morning, and continued until five, or in summer time six, in the evening, with breaks for breakfast and dinner.   This regime was varied by between five and eight weeks holiday a year, although holiday tasks might be set.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Britain and Ukraine

The British approach to Ukraine reminds me of Enoch Powell's speech in which he said that Britain had become "a nation with a split personality, rent between illusion and reality, withdrawing ever and again like the schizophrenic into a dream existence peculiar to ourselves.
Under God's good Providence and in partnership with the United States, we keep the peace of the world and rush hither and thither containing Communism, putting out brush fires and coping with subversion.   It is difficult to describe, without using terms derived from psychiatry, a notion having so few points of contact with reality".

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Votes of Equal Value

One of the fundamental principles of democracy is that each vote is of equal value. Because this is not the case in the United Kingdom our democracy is flawed.   The Western Isles (renamed) has just over 22,000 electors. They elect one MP.   The Isle of Wight have 110,924 electors.   They have one MP so a vote in the Western Isles is worth five times the vote in the Isle of Wight.
In the European Parliament the United Kingdom has 73 members, yet the 15 smallest countries in the European Union with a combined electorate two million less than the United Kingdom has 173 members, so a vote in these smaller countries is worth approximately two and a half times more than in the United Kingdom.
These distortions in our democracy are a scandal and a disgrace.   They distort the democratic process.   When are the politicians going to do something about it?