Sunday, 26 October 2008

Simon Jenkins' last column for the ST

Simon Jenkins' final column for the Sunday Times before taking up the chairmanship of the National Trust is a reasoned plea against the ever-encroaching grasp of the State. He concludes;
In all my years of writing this column, from which I am standing down, I have been amazed at the spinelessness of Britain’s elected representatives in defending liberty and protesting against state arrogance. They appear as parties to the conspiracy of power. There have been outspoken judges, outspoken peers, even outspoken journalists. There have been few outspoken MPs. Those supposedly defending freedom are whipped into obedience. I find this ominous.
Of course, a large part of the reason is the growth of central parties since 1979 as the central State has grown; the castration of local associations, Labour and Conservative, and the rise of blow-ins, those apparatchiks selected by central parties to contest elections. MPs owe a greater allegiance to the central State than they do to their constituents.

Simon will soon no doubt soon be writing to the 3.56 million members of the National Trust. In contrast the Labour Party, with probably no more than 0.15m voting members, or the Tories with some 0.23m voting members, still claim an oligopolistic stake in democratic legitimacy which if the National Trust were a political party would appear risible.

As the roots of the parties have been abandoned by their quasi-State London headquarters, defending the freedom and liberties of we the people is nowhere on the agenda of our MPs. Our Parliament is filled with party tools, obedient polished turds, more mindful of their own interests than of ours. It took the Lords to quash 42 days. Parliament has become not fit for purpose.

It was not until the upheavals of the 1840s that British democracy adapted to make the necessary transition from the world of the 18th century to that of the 19th. The reform we so desperately need now is every bit as important as the abolition of the Rotten Boroughs and the extension of the franchise; it is not the boroughs that are rotten in the 21st century, but Parliament itself, and Parliament is rotten because the parties, Labour, Conservative and LibDem, have made it so.

The coming global storm may exact a heavy toll from us all, but if those gales serve to blow away the filth, corruption, jobbery, cronyism, avarice and self-serving abuse of power from our political system it will be worth it.

2 comments:

Yokel said...

As you say, all our elected representatives are "just following orders", the orders of the central command.

When the aftermath of the last depression was finally blasted away, some found that "just following orders" was not an adequate defence!

Anonymous said...

The most important reform needed for our Parliament is for it to regain the power and autority it wielded as recently as 1972 (date not chosen at random).

Unfortunately there is no prospect of this happening.

You say it has become "not fit for purpose".

A better description would be that it no longer has a purpose.