Saturday, March 15, 2008

One State, One Party?

I have just been listening to BBC’s news24. I heard a reporter discussing the China/Tibet situation. He described China, correctly, as a ‘one party state’. Well, I’d like somebody to explain to me where in the world today there is any state that is not ‘one party’. Take Britain today. We have a conservative, Labour and Liberal party. We can vote for either one by electing our local candidate. He or she may well attract the most votes from his or her area. But, it is likely that a party of a different political persuasion might well be the governing administration. Is that democracy? It could be argued that it is. I would argue differently. They all believe that giving rich businessmen tax breaks and financial loopholes to the detriment of the poor worker will bring rewards for us all. Well, that’s been happening since the industrial revolution. And our society is still financially and politically biased to the rich land and factory owners. We have a Conservative right wing capitalist party. We have a ‘Labour’ right wing capitalist party. We have a Liberal right wing capitalist party. Where, I ask you, in this ‘democratic’ country is a left wing socialist party that has a real possibility of being elected?

I know there will be those who will say I could start my own. But, to be honest, I haven’t the means, education or possibility in this ‘democracy’ to do so. I am not represented by anybody. The few socialist MP’s I might vote for do not represent my constituency, and so I cannot use my ‘free’ vote to see representatives of my opinion elected. So I have become one of the many who do not vote and are considered unworthy of consideration because we ‘cannot be bothered’. Well, I can be bothered. When there is somebody worthy, in my opinion, of my vote.

I think, as do many, it is time to re-assess our system to allow my vote to be used where I feel it to be most effective. Not limited to my geographical location. For me to be able to vote for a person or party, irrespective of where I live. If I choose to vote for a person I would like to see in Parliament to reflect my views I should be able to do so. A member of this venerable institution should be elected according to the wishes of the majority of the country, not his or her constituency. That would truly reflect the wishes of the majority, which I always understood democracy was all about. (‘What’ says the wealthy capitalist? ‘A real democracy? Where the workers have enforceable rights? Where I have to pay a fair wage? Not while I hold the reigns of power!’)

This leads me to another anomaly in our so-called democratic society. Why do we still have 26 Bishops automatically given seats and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on retirement automatically givens seats in ‘the other place’? In our and most other modern democracies the state and church are supposed to be separate. Then why do we still allow these people a place in the House of Lords purely on the basis that they are or were high ranking members of the clergy? But we have yet another anomaly. The Parliament Act, which asserts the supremacy of the House of Commons by limiting the legislation-blocking powers of the House of Lords. Under the provisions of the Act, the Lords lost the power

(a) To delay certified money bills for more than one month,


(b) To exercise an absolute veto over other public bills.

If a public bill (other than a money bill or a bill extending the maximum duration of a parliament) was passed by the Commons in three successive sessions, with at least two years between the first Commons second reading and the Commons third reading in the third session, it could be presented for Royal Assent by the Commons.

So, the Lords is both undemocratic and a waste of tax payers money since they have no real power. Their ‘veto’ can be overruled by the commons.

So, let’s do away with them once and for all. Replace them, if you must with an elected body. But not with a group of people, failed politicians, churchmen, Lord ‘My-Dad-was-one-so-I-have-a-right’ etc and are there by virtue of their previous position.

Then there is ‘it could be presented for Royal Assent by the Commons. ‘

In other words, no Act of Parliament can become law unless the monarch signs it. So, irrespective of our 18thC revolution, when Charles the 1st was executed in the name of the people and his son was given leave to return and rule only by the right of the people expressed through parliament, the monarchy still retains the unassailable right to pass laws. Look at the 1974 election, when Harold Wilson won by the rules of the day, but our reverend monarch, Elizabeth the second offered the role of government to Edward Heath. Although Harold Wilson’s Labour our Party were elected, Edward Heath was offered, by the Queen to form Her government. The fact that he could not form a coalition with the then Liberal Party is irrelevant. The Parliament was offered to an unelected body by the sovereign. Had he (Ted Heath) chosen to take the role offered by the monarch, albeit with a minority government, under British law that would have been legal. It may not have worked, but was allowable under our constitution. (Unwritten, so possibly, nay, probably allowable.) And who would have defended this undemocratic situation? The British Army, who vow an oath to the Queen.

Democracy? I’ve yet to see one.


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