Wednesday, May 27, 2009

David Cameron plans a revolution to restore power to the people

One may act like a leader, but it is not the same as being one: Tony Blair did the former supremely; Margaret Thatcher was the latter completely.

It is easy to be cynical about politics and disbelieving of politicians after a decade of New Labour’s empty rhetoric and broken promises. In 1997 Tony Blair promised to renew Britain by focusing on ‘education, education, education’. By 2007 we had a deeply disillusioned nation fattened to the point of lethargy and sickened to the depths of apathy after being force-fed a diet of ‘spin, spin, spin’ for a seemingly interminable decade. And two further years of Gordon Brown have done nothing but induce a certifiable neurosis in a suspicious electorate – a pathological psychosis of confusion, depression and breakdown, the ultimate symptom of which is politicophobia.

As with most modern phobias, politicophobia is not remotely concerned with fear of a thing but with some sort of antipathy towards whatever prefixes the word. People now appear to loathe politicians more than they have ever despised traffic wardens or second-hand car salesmen. And we are witnessing politicophobic attacks every bit as ugly as those reported for Islamophobia or homophobia, the perpetrators of which rarely fear either Muslims or homosexuals, but happen to simply disagree with their theology and life-style respectively.

It is tempting, though wholly understandable, to perceive David Cameron as the heir to Blair. Indeed, after a decade in opposition, he is positively Obama-esque with his agenda for change and his feint solutions to the ‘credit crunch’, the recession, ‘breakdown Britain’, a nuclear Iran, Israel-Palestine tensions, poverty in Africa, civil war in Pakistan, etc., etc.

David Cameron incarnates the spirit and vocalise the words written by inter alia Sam Coates. But Mr Coates is known to mean what he says. Mr Cameron is widely perceived to be the sort of man who will say whatever he has to say in order to get whatever he needs and go wherever he wants. He has spent recent years talking about how he intends to fix our ‘broken Britain’, though he has frequently been criticised for failing to outline the details of his policies.

But now he is promising to fix our broken Parliament along with our broken democracy. And the details of his intended policies have been disclosed in revolutionary detail.

The whole speech can be read HERE. Some key ideas, indeed vast tranches could have been lifted straight out of The Plan. Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell have shown themselves to be politically prophetic. One wants to believe, to hope, to trust that David Cameron can deliver on his proposals. But this requires that the man means what he says, is convicted by his rhetoric and intends to dedicate every fibre of his being to the most radical parliamentary reformation since that of 1832. If this be so, we may once again be at another watershed moment at which the sovereignty of the people is further (or re-) established in law; at which Parliament is forced to become more susceptible to the influence of public opinion and more secure in the confidence of the people.

The ‘further’ or ‘re-' establishment of the sovereignty of the people is not a pedantic point. In a true democracy, it is the people who decide which powers to lend to their leaders. In a false democracy, it is the leaders who decide which freedoms to lend to the people. One can be in no doubt that successive EU treaties have ‘pooled’ sovereignty to the extent that it has been negated. A pledge to restore it constitutes an assurance that UK law shall once again be superior to EU law, which would require abrogation of the EU treaties and reversal of the acquis communautaire.

Much of what Mr Cameron is promising is very easy to deliver. Fixed-term parliaments, the ability to recall our MPs, committees elected by back-benchers and more scrutiny of legislation are straightforward and relatively minor developments. But his central thesis was a demand for ‘a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power’. This, he said, had to be:

‘From the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities. From Brussels to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy. Through decentralisation, transparency and accountability we must take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.’

A ‘massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power...from the EU to Britain’ would require a demand (yes, a full-bloodied, handbag-swinging demand) that the EU implement the subsidiarity clause for which the Treaty of Maastricht provided. This ‘negotiation’ could only really be demanded on pain of withdrawal. And the only way to wrest power from the judges and restore it to the people would be to withdraw from the ECHR, reject the supremacy of EU court judgements and restore the people’s Parliament as the sole fount of our laws.

If this were ever to find its way into the next Conservative Party manifesto, and the Conservative Party were to win the general election on such a programme of reform, the implications for the UK’s relationship with the EU are seismic. We shall either need to withdraw from the Union, or witness the formation of a ‘two-speed’ or ‘two-tier’ bloc with an ‘inner core’ dedicated to political union while the peripheral members are free to trade in the manner of EFTA.

The second option is most likely to be what Mr Cameron has in mind, though it amounts to the first. Certainly, it is consonant with his pledge to withdraw his MEPs from the EPP (which, although it did not take place ‘within months, not years’, is now but weeks away from being fulfilled). It is also consistent with the Party’s intention to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Even if it be in force when the Conservative Party forms a government, they have said that they ‘will not let matters rest there’.

David Cameron has political antennae every bit as attuned to the mood of the nation as those of Tony Blair. He observes that people are ‘deprived of opportunities to shape the world around them, and at the mercy of powerful elites that preside over them’. Yet he knows that rhetoric and spin no longer fool any of the people any of the time. He knows that the traditions of Parliament are perfectly workable because they have stood the test of time. The problem, he realises, is that of perfidious politicians conspiring with a jesuitical judiciary to diminish democracy and paralyse the people. The solution he has articulated is profoundly important for the Conservative Party because it is crucial for the nation. And it has come from his heart.

When you cease speaking to people hearts, you cease communicating at all. In this speech, David Cameron has shown that he understands that the modern world has moved on, and that it became postmodern. He grasps that political debate should move on because context moves on. There is no point reading the old texts through the lens of modernity when they long since ceased to resonate, not because the essential truths changed, but because the context did.

Avoiding the political challenges posed by postmodernity for fear of philosophical relativism, or accusation of inconsistency or (God forbid) spin, is simply to build a wall around Conservative Campaign Headquarters. This may create a monument to a great tradition, but it ceases to be a dynamic movement capable of articulating the nation’s natural conservatism.

The new era demands engagement with the world at all levels and with the British people at theirs. The balance is difficult, but David Cameron has eloquently articulated a possible postmodern Conservatism: a fractured, deregulated, devolved and diverse Conservatism for a new age. And for doing so, he deserves praise and admiration for the hope and optimism he has engendered.


Blogger Gnostic said...

What's the point in Cameron trying to "fix" Parliament when all he's going to do is keep us in Europe any way he can?

If he honestly, truly wants to restore power to the people then he can begin with giving us a referendum on the EUseless Lisbon Treaty regardless of how Ireland votes in August.

I'm not neurotic, Your Grace. Neither am I phobic nor lethargic. I am very much awake and aware. I've also listened to what Cameron has to say. The man is a weak chinned nightmare, a complete bloody fool, opportunist and hypocrite. Until he addresses and deals with the overwhelming problem of Europe it doesn't matter a jot how he "fixes" Parliament. Thanks to the stupidity of our politicians Parliament has already become mostly irrelevant.

27 May 2009 at 09:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One would hardly call a fart in a snowstorm a Revolution.

The man is avoiding the ultimate democratic scandal - we MUST have an English Parliament. For that reason, he won't be getting the votes of my family and friends in England.

27 May 2009 at 09:54  
Blogger Toque said...

I echo the sentiments of 'Anonymous' above. We need an English parliament.

In today's Indie Gordon Brown is whining on about the need for politicians to be accountable to the people.

Err..Gordon, you're not accountable to anyone in England over matters such as Health and Education. If you want to increase accountablity then the single best thing you could do is allow for an English parliament and government that is directly elected by the people that it serves and accountable only to them.

27 May 2009 at 10:09  
Anonymous wonderfulforhisage said...

"The new era demands engagement with the world at all levels and with the British people at theirs. The balance is difficult, but David Cameron has eloquently articulated a possible postmodern Conservatism: a fractured, deregulated, devolved and diverse Conservatism for a new age."

Thinks: Fine words butter no parsnips.

27 May 2009 at 10:20  
Anonymous oiznop said...

I'm not convinced. Cameron's a politician and politicians are sophists. This is just electioneering for next week to head off the threat of UKIP. You should know better.

27 May 2009 at 10:48  
Anonymous Maturecheese said...

Another well written article Your Grace which is why yours is the first blog I read each day, but....

I can't say I enjoy your optimism regarding Dave and his Party. I suspect when he comes to power the wheels of change will grind slowly and come to a halt. Alas David Cameron really does seem like the heir to Blair at the moment, talk is cheap and playing to the press is very 'New Labour spin'. Real change in the direction most of us want will only happen with a great deal of pain and upheaval as history teaches us.
I hope I am wrong.

27 May 2009 at 10:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To restore power to the people, David Cameron needs to sort out the democratic deficit in England. He will not do this. "sour Little Englanders!" says he!

27 May 2009 at 10:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another parliament to solve our problems?
No thanks, we need to get rid of the top heavy layers we already have and that starts with the EU.
For all of Dave's rhetoric unless we leave the EU, his speech is just so much hot air.

27 May 2009 at 11:44  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

And if we do not vote for him,i suppose that he will send in his thugs from "searchlight" and urinate against freedom"to persuade us with thier claw hammers.We have no guarantee that he will deliver a referendum on yerp,all i get from T MAY is that she agrees with holding one,while the tories in brussels vote against,but there again dave would be far happier if we were to adopt "asian culture"?so standing up for the English is not on his list.It is not up to any of the criminals in westminster to give us our rights,how can he give us what already belongs to us,we must take them and excersise them on our own behalf and rid ourselves completely of this anti-democratic parliament,by force .

27 May 2009 at 11:46  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Your Grace,
1. Islamophobia. I couldn't care less about the theology of Islam. What I do care about is Britain becoming Muslim.

2. Cameron. Dave can witter on about reform till the cows come home but none of it will add up to a fart in a hurricane unless we effect a complete withdrawal from the European Union. It is only when all our laws are once again made by our elected Parliament that we will be able to call ourselves a free people.

27 May 2009 at 11:58  
Blogger Dave said...

Bliar was quite sincere about "education, education education". What we didn't realise was what he meant by education was in fact newspeak indoctrination.
Nuliebor believe the mantra that if you repeat a lie often enough it is mysteriously transmuted into the truth. As if.

Cameron has to get the UK out of Europe before the reforms we need can be achieved. We are just waking up to what it means to be a European. English law is based on the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty. European law is based on the notion that one is guilty until proven innocent. I learned that in secondary school almost fifty years ago.

Unfortunately the Tories won't get us out of Europe so they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Therefore I must vote UKIP in June.

27 May 2009 at 12:49  
Anonymous Penny said...

Sadly, I also think Cameron is playing to the gallery - but the gallery today is full of critics who require much more than hammy acting.

I want to believe in Cameron but his record to date appears to be one of telling respective groups what they want to hear. In some cases this has indicated that actually, David does not have his finger on the pulse at all.

I live in a traditional Tory/LibDem area but for the first time ever I have had BNP literature through my door. I know of several people who intend to vote for them - some because they are desperate, some because they believe they are registering a protest vote.

Of course, the BNP are hardly likely to form the next government - the Conservatives will. David et al need to wake up to the immense responsibility they will carry when this happens. The next government will have but a short time to convince the British public that it does indeed have its finger on the pulse. Moreover, it will have to deliver on the policies and promises it has made. If we have one more term of inept government, spin, rhetoric-only politicians and continued erosion of civil liberties, how many people will turn from the mainstream parties to those like the BNP come the 2014 elections?

I really hope David is up to this worrying possibility.

27 May 2009 at 12:57  
Anonymous Philip said...

I hope the optimistic tone of Cranmer’s speculations with respect to Mr Cameron's intentions on the EU is right. I tend to agree with the doubts of other commenters here on DC’s real intentions on the EU, and agree that a pull-out is necessary to restore power to the people.

Other than this, the 'power to the people' agenda raises 2 immediate queries in my mind:

1) The provision to re-call MPs and force a by-election will have to have a very, very, high threshold e.g. some desperately serious corruption (see PS below), and to avoid single-issue pressure groups using such a provision to campaign to remove an MP because they disagree with that MP's stance on 'their' issue;

2) Pressure-group politics will have to end. That is the system whereby pressure groups exert coercive influence to influence policy to a degree way beyond the proportion of their interest group in the population.

Also how would ‘power for the people’ affect situations where currently the excessive power of financial or industry interests override all other considerations e.g. the 3rd Heathrow runway?? Also how about the many examples of local wishes being overridden when things like gambling centres are imposed on an area?

(PS an example of extreme corruption that could warrant the recall of an MP could be using taxpayers' money for a mortgage that has been paid might be an example, but perhaps not being too willing to claim expenses for trivia bearing in mind I understand MPs may have been encouraged to make use of expenses rather than get unpopular high pay rises.)

27 May 2009 at 12:57  
Blogger chris r said...

"The problem, he realises, is that of perfidious politicians conspiring with a jesuitical judiciary to diminish democracy and paralyse the people."

Altogether alarmingly alliterative!

Methinks you had fun writing this, Your Grace.

27 May 2009 at 14:23  
Anonymous Adrian Peirson said...

What use is an English Parliament if 80% of BRRITISH Laws are made in Brussels.

27 May 2009 at 14:31  
Anonymous TBF said...

"The problem, he realises, is that of perfidious politicians conspiring with a jesuitical judiciary to diminish democracy and paralyse the people."

I agree with Chris R - it's for literary nuggets and bits of fun like this that I read this blog. It is by far Britain's best written political blog.

27 May 2009 at 14:54  
Blogger ZZMike said...

"It is only when all our laws are once again made by our elected Parliament that we will be able to call ourselves a free people."

Or, for that matter, British.

"... perfidious politicians ..." Our gracious host has been channeling Chesterton. A delightful display indeed.

But still - you make it sound as though "Jesuitical" is a bad thing ...

27 May 2009 at 16:32  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

I've small but growing admiration for DC. He's made some fine speeches of late.

However, his Achilles Heel is Europe. I understand his reticence to bring it out into the open, but it's the elephant in the room. Whatever his best intentions, without grappling with this one all his other best laid plans will come to naught.

27 May 2009 at 17:02  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Parliament cannot "give" power to the public. It is not a derogation from the Sovereign Parliament to its Subjects.

The problem is the Kelsen Grundnorm which would require a Sovereign People to have preceded a Sovereign Parliament - in other words for the Sovereignty of Parliament secured first by Oliver Cromwell and then in 1689 - to have been matched by a Sovereign People whose Power was "delegated" in part to Parliament.

The English System is simply that the Power of an Absolute Monarch was assumed by an Absolute Executive within a supine Legislature with incremental addition to voting rights yielding universal suffrage.

That Absolutist Parliament them shackled itself to a Foreign Power Structure without ever having once considered its own Citizens as Sovereign. At no stage has Parliament ever considered any level of accountability below itself to be Sovereign.

It is a rank hypocrisy. In Kelsen terms the only way to establish a Grundnorm for a Sovereign People is to abolish/overthrow Parliament and impose a Constitutional Convention backed by Plebiscite to implement a new legal order and political structure from a Sovereign People in place of a Sovereign Parliament.

27 May 2009 at 18:22  
Anonymous caesars wife said...

I liked it , it reached out and touched some of the problems labour has caused , we are living in stasi communist state , so redressing that balance and the strong hint that the EU had become meaningless , was all good stuff.

But it also missed the other problem , which is how to deconstruct into national goverment , bottom up is all well and good for bottom issues , which Dan Hannah, Douglas Carswell and David Cameron know needs adressing , but it misses the role of national government.

i think there are other steps that need to be addressed before the public can see how we go from eu state communist control to liberal conservatism , somthing which may take longer than most people realise as the voter has become so unimportant in the scheme of things .

It isnt that the speech was wrong , it was that is was aspirational and futuristic at a time when people rightly want a general election to punish labour for lying and bankrupting the country .

27 May 2009 at 19:06  
Blogger Ayrdale said...

From NZ...I read your post with a degree of enthusiasm for the reforms in the wind, and am surprised at the depth of despair (politicophobia ? ) expressed in the comments.

Phillip made a good point re the power of recall, but no-one has mentioned referendums and the Swiss experience.

Perhaps Mr Cameron has a little way to travel yet before he really feels the pulse of the voters.

I hope his travels take him to Switzerland to see how the multi-lingual, armed to the teeth Swiss run their country...

27 May 2009 at 19:10  
Anonymous M said...

Wow. All I can say is that if politicians debated like this we would more than half way there.

27 May 2009 at 19:17  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

we don't need a New system, the old one worked fine, it's just that it was ignored and no one went to Jail for it.
If we build a new system, what is to stop them just ignoring that one.

The reason why we are in this mess is because Parliament committed High Treason and no one was Jailed for it.

We are in this situation simply because they Broke the Law and aree still doing it.


27 May 2009 at 19:20  
Anonymous no nonny said...

As above commentators indicate - this post also exemplifies my reasons for tuning in to Cranmer! It's a question of style corresponding with substance.

Take the last couple of sentences, for instance -
"but David Cameron has eloquently articulated a possible postmodern Conservatism: a fractured, deregulated, devolved and diverse Conservatism for a new age. And for doing so, he deserves praise and admiration for the hope and optimism he has engendered."

It occurs to me to visualize the statements as an image of DC rhetoric: for the two sentences seem at once to diverge and to interlace - like the bifurcated tongue of a ‘beast' on an ancient stone monument. In both cases, interpretation depends on the beholder, of course. Some view the beast as the Holy Ghost; others may see the creature as bound by his own, er, rhetoric. For such, methinks, is the only Mystery - or else the sorcery or alchemy - that can engender hope from post-modernism.

It's such a nasty philosophy; for example, it often turns to 'web' imagery, entrapment, and such. Also, its ‘fracturing' frequently references schizophrenia and paranoia; and its ‘devolution' and ‘diversity' are often achieved by the action of bacteria and their byproducts.

My reaction has long stemmed from love of Milton - to whom it necessarily apologizes! :-
"There is discord here that deadlier drips than saps from 'Fleurs du Mal' upon the swamp."

Oh - and speaking of Sublime Imagery (because I know decons ‘play' with that one, too) - is that a juxtaposition of opposites I see in the faces of Churchill and Cameron? Or not?

27 May 2009 at 22:56  
Anonymous Kay said...

Yes, but dear old Dave has said nothing new! He’s re-inflating old ideas that spin around for a few weeks and then disappear back into the abyss from which they came. There is nothing in his speech that excites me. The Cons, Nu-Lab, Lib, are one and the same. They each simply put a different spin on things. Tweak it here, tweak it there, but it’s still the same old rhetoric. Dave should have kept abreast of his own MP’s and yes, let’s not forget his “take” on taxes!
He’s still going to lead us into the EU. Why do Con and Nu-Lab insist on full steam ahead with regards to the EU when they KNOW, that the majority of British people don’t want anything to do with it? It’s high time MP’s remembered who put them there in the first place. They really do believe that they are above the law, and in fact, it seems that they are. I’m so disheartened with the lot of them. They are a national and international disgrace. The working man would have been hung, drawn, and quartered for much less.

28 May 2009 at 01:45  
Blogger John Morton said...

We should be very careful with what Mr Cameron does and does not say.

We know for a fact that Osborne is collaborating with the "gang of 29 roundtable behavioural economists" who are now promoting NAZI style genocide in the name of "health care reform" in America.

Is that the kind of "fixing" we need in Britian, i.e. kill them all and let God sort them out?

29 May 2009 at 15:07  

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