Charity Claims Brits Turning Away from Parliamentary Democracy to Strong Rulers

There’s an ominous piece in today’s I, Monday, 8th April 2019, reporting that a charity, the Hansard Society, has found that British people are increasingly fed up with parliamentary and looking instead for a strong ruler that govern without its consent. The article by Joe Gammie, ‘Britons want new rules – and new leaders’ runs

Growing public dissatisfaction with Britain’s political system is leading people to entertain “radical solutions” which challenge the core tenets of democracy, a charity has warned.

The annual Hansard Society audit of political engagement found that nearly three-quarters of people felt the UK’s system of governing needed “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of improvement.

At 72 per cent, this is the highest level in the 15 years the audits have been published – worse than the previous peak of 69 per cent in the 2010 study which was taken in the aftermath of the MPs’ expenses scandal and the financial crises.

The research and education charity warned that the increasing public dissatisfaction with the system of governing meant some people were saying Britain needed a “strong leader willing to break the rules” and that the country’s problems could be better deal with if the Government did not not have to worry about parliamentary approval.

Dr Ruth Fox, the director of the Hansard Society, said: “This year’s audit of political engagement shows that the public are not apathetic about politics, but they are increasingly dissatisfied with the way our system of governing works – so much so that sizeable numbers are willing to entertain quite radical solutions that would challenge core tenets of our democracy. (p.6).

The article seems to be saying that a majority of Brits now want a strong ruler, who gets things done without parliamentary checks. It means they’re turning to centralised, authoritarian, personal government. And the end of that road are the highly authoritarian regimes of leaders like Putin, or outright dictatorship.

I have some caveats about the article. It doesn’t describe how the polling was conducted, how large the canvassed groups were, or its composition. There is no information on precisely which sections of society made up the polled group, or their voting preferences or political allegiances. I’ve also read similar scare stories in the press before, where an organisation claimed they had found, for example, that 2/3 of Brits would support a strongly anti-immigrant party of the type of the BNP or National Front. In fact, while there is massive demand for restrictions on immigration, and as we’ve seen with successive governments, a very harsh, punitive approach to immigrants and asylum seekers, there’s very little support for the parties of the extreme Right. They’re a danger, and shouldn’t be encouraged, but they attract only tiny minority of supporters. People instead look to the mainstream parties to formulate and carry out policies against immigration. I think the same attitude underlies the comments here, if they can be believed. Those demanding a more centralised, personal government doubtless want it carried out within the system, rather than parliamentary democracy to be smashed and completely overthrown by an aspiring dictator like Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists tried in the 1930s.

If there is such radical dissatisfaction with parliament, my guess is that it’s being fueled by the continuing debacle over Brexit, where the different factions in the Tory party are tearing each other to pieces, coupled with Tweezer repeatedly trying and failing to get it all past parliament. In these circumstances, it looks like the 72 per cent demanding a strong leadership against parliament are supporters of Tweezer, who have swallowed her lies and those of the Tory press that the reason no progress is being made is entirely due to treacherous MPs blocking her proposed deal. And not because the deal itself is rubbish and massively unpopular. If there’s a problem, then it’s not with parliament, or rather, not directly, and the solution is not to take power away from it and give it to a Russian-style silovik, or strong man. The proper solution would be to demand a general election to break impasse, one that would put a Labour government and Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10, and allow some real progress to be made.

But this is completely unacceptable to the Tories, for obvious reasons, and the rest of the neoliberal media-industrial complex, who wish to keep the Tories in No. 10 and blame parliament, not the PM, for the continuing massive failure of Brexit.

And this is extremely dangerous. When parliamentary democracy fails, Fascism seizes power. Both Hitler and Mussolini gained power through the failure of parliamentary democracy. In both Germany and Italy, the mainstream parties elected to parliament refused to work with each other. Hitler and Mussolini were then invited by the governing party to join a coalition in order to give them a majority. They did so, and then passed legislation giving their parties an overwhelming majority, and then destroying parliamentary democracy altogether through banning rival parties and elevating Hitler and Mussolini to positions of supreme leadership, Fuehrer in German, Duce in Italian.

There is also another danger to parliamentary democracy right at the opposite pole to political fragmentation. This is when it becomes discredited when MPs from an opposition party join the government without a mandate from their own party or constituency. For example, last week Tom Watson, the conniving deputy leader of the Labour party and other right-wing Labour MPs announced that they would be willing to join Tweezer and the Tories in a government of national unity. Watson has spent his time as deputy leader intriguing against the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has the overwhelming support of party members. A sizable section of the parliamentary Labour party has also plotted to undermine and overthrow Corbyn, against the wishes of their own constituency parties and the members of the Party as a whole. The result has been a series of ‘no confidence’ votes against right-wing, Thatcherite MPs like Joan Ryan and Luciana Berger. Who responded by smearing their opponents as Communists, misogynists and anti-Semites, and then split to help form Change UK, thus betraying the Labour supporters and activists that got them elected. It’s been pointed out that Watson and co. do form a coalition with Tweezer, it would effectively be an anti-democratic coup, carried out by parliament against the wishes of the wider electorate.

Parallels have also been drawn between this and the coalition government of 1929, when Ramsay McDonald, then leader of the Labour party, joined forces with the Tories to introduce a series of cuts that hit the working class. This split the Labour party, and McDonald was thrown out. He has been reviled ever since as a traitor to the party. This may well be what Watson wants, as he and other Labour right-wingers were talking of coups and forming splinter groups long before The Independent Group finally took the plunge. It’s part of their plot to marginalise genuine socialism, and retain power under the name of the Labour party for Thatcherite entryists like themselves. But if they do take this step, it will discredit parliament, and the result could a further turn to radical solutions demanding the removal of parliamentary democracy or its radical curtailment.

It’s also similar to the plans for a coup in the mid-’70s to overthrow Harold Wilson’s minority government. The Times then was demanding a government of national unity, to include moderate Labour MPs like Shirley Williams alongside the Tories. This was to be achieved by a military coup and everyone else further left was to be rounded up and interned.

If the Hansard Society is correct, and people are becoming radically dissatisfied with parliamentary government, then the solution isn’t the greater centralisation of power in the Prime Minister. Tweezer is the cause of this problem. She has put her own personal interest in remaining premier, and her vile party’s determination to cling on to power at whatever the cost to the British people ahead of her duty to the country. Just as the Labour right has put its own privileges and Thatcherite agenda before the wishes of their constituents and the needs of the British people. The solution to these problems should be more democracy, so that Tweezer has no choice but to obey the wishes of parliament, and cannot pass the buck by blaming them for her own failures. At the same time, Watson and the rest of the Thatcherites should be brought to heel and made to represent their constituents, not their own selfish interests.

But this is too much for the British establishment and media, who will continue to support Tweezer against parliament, until people really are completely fed up with the whole charade. And then will come the real danger of demands for proper authoritarian government. But if it’s against the Left, this will certainly be backed by the Times and the rest of the press. All in the interests of national unity, of course.

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