Saturday, February 19, 2011

John Strafford, Conservatives4AV and Conservative Party democracy


There is an excellent article in today's Guardian about the internal tensions within both the main political parties on the question of AV. His Grace's readers and communicants know very well where he stands on the proposed reform (if not, see here and here). But he does respect the principle of free speech and foundation of democracy, and David Cameron has said that the AV referendum is effectively a matter of conscience: there is a soft party line, but members are free to vote either way.

It is baffling, therefore, why stalwarts of Conservative Party democracy have been barred by CCHQ from manifesting a Yes2AV presence at the forthcoming Spring Conference. If it is a free vote, both sides need to be provided with a platform to expound their views. Or is this censorship more a case of the Party Chairman/men/woman 'having issues' with the messenger? If John Strafford - who virtually single-handedly spread Party democracy to embrace the Conservatives of Northern Ireland - is not permitted conference floor space (he isn't requesting a speaking slot) to debate a legitimate issue on which there is no consensus or whip, what hope is there for frank debate on any matter of official policy? Such a heavy-handed, top-down approach does not augur well for the newly-(re-)launched Conservative Party Forum.

What is it which makes the Conservative Party exempt from the Prime Minister's commitment to localism, devolution, subsidiarity and democracy? While the Leader preaches the gospel of demos, the Party practises kratos.

Surely the Leader is not a centralising control-freak. Surely he is not a hypocrite. Surely he would not talk of shifting power from the state to the citizens and from Whitehall to town halls while centralising his own bureaucracy. Surely he would not preach the liberating mantra of ‘let the people decide’ while actually empowering his party’s unaccountable technocrats to thwart the popular will.

If the flourishing, literate, mature, responsible and civil local Conservative associations are not ready for democracy, what makes the Prime Minister believe the town halls are?

It gives His Grace no pleasure at all to ask these questions. But how can one persuade the electorate that one stands for something out of conviction if one’s instinct is to practise the contrary? Is a man not better judged by his actions than by his words?

Come on, CCHQ. Trust a little. Risk a little. Permit a little open, honest and frank debate in the Spring Forum. You might even find that John Strafford talks a little sense - though not on AV ;o)

13 Comments:

Blogger Gawain Towler said...

It may pain your Grace, but surely it cannot surprise you?

19 February 2011 at 16:04  
Anonymous Zach Johnstone said...

Your Grace,

John Strafford is attending a debate at my university in a few days alongside another Yes2AV presence and two (as yet unnamed) representatives from the No2AV camp.

Hosted by 'Yes to Fairer Votes'.

If they are willing to offer an equal platform to those opposed to AV, it is a fairly poor showing if the Conservative Party cannot find it within themselves to do the same.

19 February 2011 at 16:17  
Anonymous Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Your Grace

Surely it does not take a Meglomanical Genius to state the 'obvious' to you?

"What is it which makes the Conservative Party exempt from the Prime Minister's commitment to localism, devolution, subsidiarity and democracy? (Is It?) While the Leader preaches the gospel of demos, the Party practises kratos (Let us hope the 'Democracy demanding horde's' in the Middle East are not observing?).

"Surely the Leader is not a centralising control-freak. (Ha Ha Ha) Surely he is not a hypocrite (Ha Ha Ha). Surely he would not talk of shifting power from the state to the citizens and from Whitehall to town halls while centralising his own bureaucracy (Ha Ha Ha). Surely he would not preach the liberating mantra of ‘let the people decide’ while actually empowering his party’s unaccountable technocrats to thwart the popular will (Ha Ha Ha)."
Ps My name is not Shirley, Your Grace but Ernst. Bless You!

"It gives His Grace no pleasure at all to ask these questions. But how can one persuade the electorate that one stands for something out of conviction if one’s instinct is to practise the contrary?
Is a man not better judged by his actions than by his words? (You therefore have your answer, Archbishop Cranmer)" Cameron and Clegg are mere puppets in the hands of SPECTRE.

"Come on, CCHQ. Trust a little. Risk a little. Permit a little open, honest and frank debate in the Spring Forum (They are just simple tools in the hands of my bagboys, the EU). You might even find that John Strafford talks a little sense - though not on AV ;o)
"
I perversely admire your desperate plea's for honesty (weakness?) from a vacuous organisation that wants you to believe you have a choice whereas it has already assigned the choice for you and others in your party!

Wishing you well in your hopeless endeavour, Your Grace.

Ernst

19 February 2011 at 16:23  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Ernst beware! It is rumoured that His Grace has 'turned' Rosa Klebb; watch out for some fancy footwork!

19 February 2011 at 18:10  
Anonymous Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Oswin said 19 February 2011 18:10

Oswin, dear boy, you must be aware that Private Eye, your British satirical magazine, frequently parodies the politician Margaret Beckett as Rosa Klebb.

See who John Strafford is standing beside in His Grace's open gambit with CCHQ?

The plot thickens?

Your servant, Sir, until it suits my purpose.

Ernst

19 February 2011 at 18:21  
Anonymous not a machine said...

As a no2AV person , I am pretty resilient to giving space to anyone wanting to corrupt one vote , for the manfesto idea.However within debateable areas of the party then things have to aired or the argument becomes a little ragged. In case you missed this weeks Lab HQ announcement that all media communications must be approved by the communications office , you may have thought it was just a conservative adjustment .
What perhaps is a political deficet after many years of half answers and deliberate nonanswers by labour , you might forgive the conservatives for a little centralisation to rebuild a functioning relationship with the electorate , indeed labour have been doing everything possible to interupt the messages of reform and seem to be willing to pick a fight rather than do the honourable thing and just admit they are writhing bag of lies who created more poverty than they allieviated .
The timing as recess arrives is interesting as ed has clearly had some trouble in the HOC so perhaps has chosen the politics of Nero , yes the british people will be deluged in pappy pop wether they like it or not , they will resonate with the anger from his speeches , and become blinded to just which goverment it was that set the UK economy to implode with credit and public sector liabilities at levels beyond a 2 year cycle , who left office with more unemployment than when they came in.
of course ed may be wanting to strain the conservative party , which is perlious course because not only is he looking mean (as when he picked the big society) but he is also looking unbalanced and lacking any polices other than abrasion and sabotage . He still hasnt explained what his £44bn worth of cuts were to be in his own parties budget.
He is paid a goodly sum by the tax payer , I think he should tell us what cuts he would have done (it is hardly a state secret)and why the delay in saying them now .
They are perhaps re launching ed the leader after a not so happy few months , his little salutes as he wandered on stage had all the hallmarks of a munich adress minus the eagled baton .

I am sure the conservatives will not fall for his little ruse ,but he is certainly begining to run a high risk strategy for the forthcomming locals .

19 February 2011 at 21:20  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Surely he would not preach the liberating mantra of ‘let the people decide’ while actually empowering his party’s unaccountable technocrats to thwart the popular will. Your Grace's accuracy in striking the heads of nails is terrific!

Were we not living out a Tragedy, Strafford's argument could amuse. After all, he assumes that we think the present apology for a parliament actually represents the people, even though the House is under the mandate of a foreign power.

Presumably we, the People, are blinded to that fact that the choice proffered blames our own system of faulty representation. We, the masses, the idiot peasants, will presumably never twig that the fault lies less within the system than in the present incumbents. We'll never notice the manner of their selection before they are presented to the people. Further still, we'll never notice that they already betray us: by answering to a foreign power, and not to us. If anyone begins to suspect, the 'governors' can jump up and down yelling about some sort of 'phobia': that bit of 'psychology' will distract the 'masses.'

If FPTP is good enough for this bipolar euro purpose (a referendum from their one-party system), then why not for anything else? Whether they measure the 'votes' by item (number) or weight (amount), they will serve the DC/euro purpose of pretending to empower the people. Never mind that he and his masters choose the question; never mind that they want further to disempower the system that this People has evolved to suit Britain.

Still, it's wise to wonder why they make this song and dance about a voting system that is not and never will be. And, as ever, Your Grace enlightens us about the possiblities behind the smoke and mirrors. For we are 'living in a virtual world.'

P.S: How much is this charade going to cost? Which 'cuts' are funding it?

19 February 2011 at 21:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree.

On a related matter, it is also why Camerons 'big society' will fail.

Not just because the people will reject it, but because of Camerons' own mixed messages.

20 February 2011 at 03:30  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Didnt they do this very same stitch up job to get the Country behind voting us into the common market.

Sideline those against and promote only a positive agenda.

20 February 2011 at 09:08  
Anonymous len said...

The whole subject of the 'Big Society' is a sham.
Until someone (anyone!)addresses the inequalities in our Society the problems will remain.
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
(Abraham Lincoln, attributed)

Whilst we go through the motions of being a Democracy we plainly are not.Our Government is similar to the 'Vichy Government' of France ,'just following whatever it is told to do. Whence will Liberation come?

The Bankers got us into the financial mess we are in , but they are the only ones to gain from it!How many private companies have their incompetence rewarded by showering them with cash?

Governments passed the laws which ushered in the moral decline of our Nation.Now everyone (except small minorities ) are paying the price.
No amount of 'tinkering' with the system will have any affect unless it is seen(by all) to be fair,We need radical change, can anyone see that happening?

20 February 2011 at 09:12  
Anonymous Voyager said...

David Cameron is not a "leader" but a cipher for Steve Hilton. Cameron has no life experience and tries to pretend he has it vicariously through his dead infant, as if that gives him depth and insight. It does not.

He simply has no idea. He is what Bagehot called the decorative part of the Constitution and considering his descendancy from William IV we can see why he thinks he is "entitled".

This wedding in April will be his undoing as a relation of the Royal Family and a fellow alumnus of the groom...the self-satisfied smugness of Cameron and spouse will be infuriating to the public.

Cameron fears public opinion and Hilton tells him to control expressions of dissent - what used to be called "Deviationism" in certain political circles.

Cameron hopes he can arrive at a fudge like the election result and emerge in the saddle. He is a hopeless politician

20 February 2011 at 10:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote for AV to perpetuate the one party Lib/Lab/Con pro-EU state and keep out UKIP.

20 February 2011 at 14:53  
Anonymous UK Fred said...

Your Grace, for all his expensive schooling,it would appear that the Fuhrer, sorry, Prime Minister, ought to read a book called "Up the Organisation" by RC Townsend. This 1960's American management textbook describes the most important person in any organisation as "The Vice President in Charge of Killing Stupid Ideas" and obviously Mr. Cameron does not have one of these in his cabinet. Such a person should only be sacked for being too polite: they should throw teddies out of prams when something stupid is suggested, and do so publicly if their advice is ignored. A good one would have prevented Mrs. Thatcher's problems with the Poll Tax, possibly stopped Tony Blair from going to war in Iraq - he was such a warmonger I don't know if any earthly being could have stopped that - and certainly stopped Gordon Brown from selling our gold at the bottom of the market.

20 February 2011 at 17:45  

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