We wrote this grump some time ago, but in view of the forthcoming
farce sorry, election it seemed pertinent to bring it back to the top again.
"When governments fear the people there is
When the people fear government there is tyranny" - Thomas
"By a very conservative estimate, a hundred
have died at the hands of their own governments in this century.
Given that record, how bad could anarchy be?" - Joseph Sobran
Use this Yahoo Search box to find more grumpy places,
Two of the words most often bandied about these days are "freedom"
and "democracy". George Bush in particular uses them as a kind
of magic mantra to justify almost any despicable action (hands up all
those who know which is the only country ever to have been condemned by
the United Nations for terrorist acts? Yes, that's right - the U.S.).
Let's think for a moment about "democracy". The Oxford Advanced
Learner's Dictionary of Current English (1982) describes it as "Government
in which all adult citizens share through their elected representatives;
government which encourages and allows rights of citizenship such as
freedom of speech, religion, opinion and association, the assertion of the
rule of law, majority rule" (my underlining) ".....
accompanied by respect for the rights of minorities; treatment of each
other by citizens as equals and with absence of class feeling".
Here are the vote shares of the three main parties in the UK at all
General Elections since World War II:
1945: Labour 47.8% Conservative 39.8% Liberal 9%
1950: Labour 46.1% Conservative 43.5% Liberal 9.1%
1951: Conservative 48% Labour 48.8% Liberal 2.5%
1955: Conservative 49.7% Labour 46.4% Liberal 2.7%
1959: Conservative 49.4% Labour 43.8% Liberal 5.9%
1964: Labour 44.1% Conservative 43.4% Liberal 11.1%
1966: Labour 47.9% Conservative 41.9% Liberal 8.5%
1970: Conservative 46.4% Labour 43% Liberal 7.5%
1974: Labour 37.9% Conservative 37.1% Liberal 19.3%
1974: Labour 39.2% Conservative 35.8% Liberal 18.3%
1979: Conservative 43.9% Labour 36.9% Liberal 13.8%
1983: Conservative 42.4% Labour 27.6% Alliance 25.4%
1987: Conservative 42.2% Labour 30.8% Alliance 22.6%
1992: Conservative 41.9% Labour 34.4% Liberal Democrat 17.8%
1997: Labour 43.2% Conservative 30.7% Liberal Democrat 16.8%
2001: Labour 40.7% Conservative 31.7% Liberal Democrat 18.3 %
Notice that in 1951 the Tories were able to form the government despite
polling fewer votes than Labour. In fact, for the last 60 years we have
not had a single government that enjoyed the support of even half the
voters. Not exactly majority rule, then? By 1999 in the Reith Lectures
Anthony Giddens had to come up with a rather different definition: "I
shall mean by it the following: democracy is a system involving effective
competition between political parties for positions of power. In a
democracy, there are regular and fair elections, in which all members of
the population may take part". Sensible man - that's a pretty
fair assessment of the system we have. But does it produce the results we
It does not.
At any given time in the last 60 years, the majority of the electorate
have voted against the party that actually came to power. Our system
ensures that the electorate is powerless. We are at all times ruled by
people we don't want to be ruled by.
That's not my idea of a democracy.
"Throughout our history, governments both large and
small - autocratic, democratic, and totalitarian - have tried to shape
destiny ... to change people's lives. But in the end we, the people,
invariably manage to change government instead." - Billy Tauzin, "The
National Retail Sales Tax"
Yeah, you wish.
work for you - find out how your MP votes, how many times he's been
in parliament, whether he replies to messages from constituents, what his
financial interests and expenses are, and even send him a fax.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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