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Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Rory Stewart - Antidemocrat

Just when I thought I was fairly well acquainted with the liggers on the green benches, up pops one I've never noticed before. Commentators use terms such as 'original' 'different' or 'out of the box' to describe Rory Stewart (Eton and Balliol), the son of a senior civil servant, when what they mean is a weird but ruthless narcissist so deeply in love with himself he's lost touch with reality. Tory leadership elections are also opportunities to judge politicians we never want in positions of responsibility, and for me, Stewart is a member of that small and exclusive club.

The Guardian reports on Stewart's latest inanity -
Instead he hopes to deliver Brexit via a citizens’ assembly, which he said he would convene on day one of entering No 10 and would pay a jury of 500 UK citizens to work a seven-day week to find a Brexit consensus that parliament would respect.
Citizens' assemblies, a process also known as Sortition, are a favourite of the anti-democrats who cried in frustration in 2016 that the 'wrong sort of people are using democracy'. We only voted for Brexit because we're not as clever as Rory, apparently. Clearly, we're wrong. All we need - 500 of us, picked at random - is to be locked up together and lectured by experts until we reach a consensus, which will be, effectively, to cancel Brexit. Problem solved.

As an absolute Baldrick of an idea, it has few equals. A suggestion so utterly, risibly stupid that only an extremely clever moron could have thought of it.

Sortition does have a role.  For stuff like the council's new masterplan for the High Street, as part of the consultation process before it goes to the planning committee. Where it has absolutely no place is in replacing universal suffrage and the secret ballot in matters of constitutional significance, for which a truly democratic referendum has already given Stewart and his chums in the Commons a clear and unambiguous instruction. If he doesn't like it, I suggest he either resigns his seat or joins the CUKs.

Citizens assemblies and other varieties of sortition are increasingly a favourite of the anti-democrats who fear that we, via the ballot box, may displace them from their capture of the State. That a champion of such anti-democracy seriously imagines that Conservatives will vote for him as leader displays a greater than usual self-delusion.


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a citizens' jury that could review existing legislation and strike it down. There is so much junk and duplicate legislation on the statute book that is badly written and that serves little purpose. Just because an MP had a dripping tap bringing in laws 'against it' won't stop it happening and bad people don't stop doing bad things because of law, they stop because it is too hard to get away with it.

But, as you imply, the question of the EU has been put to the electorate already, free of all the complications of having to consider other policies that come as part of the usual election package. The answer was 'leave', a divorce if you like, not let's still live together and have sex every Thursday.

All these compromises that are being suggested are really just variations of 'remain', what the EU calls 'cherry picking', and at the end of the day whatever variation of 'remain' parliament or 'assembly of citizens' comes up with can't sensibly be put into law because it attempts to determine what the EU 'must' do, it's that 'dripping tap', 'Canute' stuff again, legislation over things outwith our control.

No, 'leave means leave', get on with it all of you.

Stephen J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen J said...

If a new tory leader really wanted to exit from the EU, s/he need do absolutely nothing.

We leave on October 31st.

The only reason that parliament is involved is because Gina Miller won a court case that specified that parliament should have A meaningful vote. Weirdly under the dismal May, that has been a blessing in disguise.

However now that we are taking another run up, what we really should be doing is treating the referendum as an exercise of people power aka democracy. Parliament should not be involved, they agreed to hand the decision to us.

So as I say, if a tory leader really wanted to execute the referendum instruction correctly, when article 50 expires on Hallowe'en...


Raedwald said...

Anon 6.32 - But who decides what pieces of legislation should be considered by the citizens' jury for abolition? And who picks their legal advisors? Two of our three Parliamentary parties have just been persuaded to abandon this legislative safeguard (the Conservatives alone refused to change their policy)

"S.29J - Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system."

No. I profoundly disagree, I'm afraid. The job of identifying outdated, duplicate or perverse legislation - and of bringing this before Parliament to be rescinded or revised - is the task of a Law Commission. We did this as a nation once before, in the 1870s I think, when they did a good job and very few babies were emptied into the Cloaca Maxima with the bathwater.

Scrobs. said...

I like your analogy with councils wanting consultation.

Several years ago, Tunbridge Wells BC decided that they needed some consultation on the town centre, so they went to various national agents to see what they could offer.

The 'tender' was won by a now-sadly-lost firm, Donaldsons, who were pretty damn good at what they did.

At the very first meeting, the agents asked TWBC for their detailed brief on what the members and staff wanted. The council amazed everybody present by saying 'Well, we thought you might like to sort out the brief for us'!

The agents didn't seem to be around much after that, which was a great pity.

Tunbridge Wells town centre is now in a slow decline...

formertory said...

One of the many things that reduced Ed Miliband to a laughing stock was that picture of him eating a bacon sandwich. Stewart has a similarly ungainly-yet-mobile face; perhaps it's worth a whip-round to get him out to a transport caff for a double bacon buttie with fat left in? Someone in the corner with a decent camera......... job sorted.

Stephen J said...


I reckon that he has a passing resemblance to South Park's "Canadians".

For those who have never seen, they have mouths that are so big that when they speak their top head bounces on top of the lower head.

I have no idea why they did it, but it is instantly memorable.

DeeDee99 said...

Stewart used to be a member of the Labour Party. That's all you need to know, really; he's not a genuine conservative.

Given his name and a photograph, 90% of the electorate would say "who's he."

Charles said...

Odd looking man, odd looking politics, looks like anyone can be a Tory MP these days.

Anonymous said...

Our city was crushed beneath Prescott's Common Purpose filled Regional Assemblies and Regional Development Agencies.

It was how they worked - consultations were put together - along the lines of already decided aims, people were gathered, sold a story, dissenters marginalised, and the pre-ordained plans put into action.

When clowns claim to put supposedly neutral committees together, we can bet that they are anything but neutral.

The man's a plant - in all senses of the word.

John in Cheshire said...

1. Lots of education does not equal lots of intelligence. But certain sources of education equals lots of influence and access to this who wield power.

2. The Dunning-Kruger effect is thriving in the House of Rats.

Jack the dog said...

The citizens council to scrutinise legislation should be the house of lords.

Once upon a time when it was populated by hereditary peers it did that. Now it is popultaed by mostly failed ex-politicians it is just a gravy train and achieves nothing useful.

Paradoxically democracy was healthier when it was less "democratic". A HoL populated by huntin'shootin' fishin' squires from the shires would likely not be remainer, and would be closer to the views of the people.

Cheerful Edward said...

Yet again you prove incapable of escaping this erroneous absolutism.

There are many forms of democracy, but you accept only one, mob rule.

The parallels with the Islamic extremists, and their One True Belief are uncanny.

Span Ows said...

Raedwald, there's some ranting loon in the corner shrieking and mumbling to himself in equal measure. Ed outdoing himself in illogical trolling twaddle. He is not even trying now.

Raedwald said...

Ah Edward - QED. Many thanks.

I could not have wished for a more apposite comment from someone so viscerally opposed to democracy as your good self.

Cheerful Edward said...

To take your three beliefs of direct democracy, self-determination, and localism to their logical conclusion, the country would eventually consist of sixty-five million statelets, each with a population of one. After all, why should the will of the people of Dewsbury override that of those of Oxford, say?

The question is as to what is reasonable, between that on the one hand, and complete centralisation under authoritarianism - elected or not - on the other.

You don't do reasonable though, do you?

Cheerful Edward said...

PS, but it is you who wants to stop any further democratic expression on leaving the EU, Raedwald, not me. So it is you who is the anti-democrat in many people's view.

I personally don't actively want one, and I think that the UK should leave the EU, as I have said before several times now.

But it is also the Islamists, who say that there can never ever be another vote on reverting from an Islamic State, isn't it?

DiscoveredJoys said...

What precious Rory Stewart fails to consider is that we have already had a Citizens' Assembly to consider continuing membership of the EU - the Referendum. There were plenty of presentations by experts and we reached a decision. Consensus was not possible because of the nature of the question and methodology.

I expect he fails to realise we already have an answer because he didn't like it. I expect he would be just as dismissive if 'the 500' came up with a consensus he didn't like.

Mark said...

@Cheerful Edward,

Democracy and freedom are not the same thing. You do understand this?

I'd like to be able to take your beliefs to their logical conclusion. If only you could let us know what your beliefs actually are.

Anybody else managed to work this out yet?

Stay in the EU and arguments are basically moot as you would have neither.

So we're Islamists now? Bit more of a threat these days than nazis I suppose. Particularly in Germany if you are a jew where they don't seem to be able tell the difference.

Mr Ecks said...

You need to be hanged Cheesy. As the active agent of tyranny that you are.

Dr Evil said...

He's an arch remainer and scared of No Deal/WTO exit. He has no chance at all. Not after those results last Sunday.

Timothy Davis across the pond said...


Lets say another vote is held and Brexit wins again, do you keep holding votes until the desired outcome is achieved? Do you go for 3 out of 5 or 2 out of 3 if remain wins this time?

After all, if you are not against another vote this time, why would you be against another vote the next time.

This could be a national sport or something. The result that wins 4 out of 7 is the one implemented. No do overs, swearsies!

formertory said...

Apologies for going slightly O/T

@right-writes: Canadians

Never watched South Park, but just went to Youtube to watch a clip about Canadians. Sorry, I mean of course, "aboot" Canadians. Absolute hoot - thanks.

Cheerful Edward said...

Note to normal people: Mr. X is entirely serious. Over someone's holding a different opinion.

Anonymous said...

Raedwald, so we need a Law Commission then, using people moving on from the Boundary Commission and the Electoral Commission?

A jury could have the power to call for evidence and seek its own legal advice. Like a court jury its powers would be time-limited and as there is no prospect of making this a career they should act for the benefit of the wider society. Commissions are formed by and from 'the great and the good'. I am sure they mostly act in an honourable fashion, but..

Cheerful Edward said...

We have a Law Commission. It has an unelected president too, just like the EU Commission. However, at least Juncker was approved by the EU Parliament.

Mark said...

At least Juncker was "approved" by the EU parliament.

How lucky they are to put somebody in charge who had the foresight and wisdom to put Selmayr in place.

How I'll miss this paternal guidance.

Plantman said...

@ Timothy Davis

Ah, but there's another issue that Eddie needs to answer (btw - what happened to the three strikes per day and your out ruling)

If there was a referendum 2 what winning margin would the remainers regard as giving them victory? Obviously it has to be greater than 1.9% because they have spent three years telling us that that isn't big enough. Can we have a figure please.

Edward Spalton said...

Rory Stewart has been places and done things.

In an earlier age he would have been amongst those stalwart intelligence agents who, under the guise of interest in archaeology
or natural history, crossed Central Asia to find out what dastardly plots the Russians were hatching against our Indian Empire.
They also helped to pay their expenses by publishing heavily redacted accounts of their activities.

Long ago I read such a work by a 19th century Colonel Burnaby of the Blues, called “ A Ride to Khiva”. A
Jolly good read.

I cannot remember which modern wit typified such books as “ With Rod and Line through the Gobi Desert”.

Stewart seems to have done quite a lot of such activities - a good background for a John Buchan character - but not
perhaps in these days when you cannot be sure of whose Empire he was really serving.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, sortition is democratic.
I do agree that in this situation it's a cynical attempt at starting a cheapskate neverendum by another means.