Thursday, December 22, 2005


More on the Radio 4's 'Today' programme 'Who Runs Britain' discussion (see NTaH passim here here and here).

Judy (Adloyada) notes Amanda Platel protesting that the press aren't as powerful as they seem.

But they are a lot more powerful than they should be. And there is a sizeable lobby that would like to quietly create a situation in which they were even more powerful.

Now, dear visitor, how many times have you been to this blog? If the answer is 'more than once' you will have probably have read a posting about my fears for representative democracy and the rise of 'direct democracy'.

There are a least a dozen such posts (in nine months) on this subject. I don't think any of them have ever had their comment boxes darkened. I never hear anyone actually disagreeing with my views on this when pushed. But I never read anyone else saying similar things either.

Am I....

a) A lone voice for sanity?
b) A monomaniac fuckwit?

When I started this blog, I was hoping to get a discussion going on a subject that worries many of the people I speak to.

Should I just stick to Football in future?

For the avoidance of doubt, I'm prepared to argue that people who advocate more direct forms of democracy are a greater threat to liberal democracies than a bunch of religious fanatics who have control of a load of passenger aeroplanes over Manhattan.

There. Now, for the love of Jaysus, tell me if I've lost the plot or not. Please?

(... and Radio 4 had the cheek to run a piece saying that Bloggers run the country today! Well, this one certainly doesn't. But if he did, there'd be a few blindfolds and final fags handed out, let me tell you...)

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MatGB said...

You're not alone. Then, this is my second time here after about 2 weeks ago, so I haven't read the earlier stuff. Representative democracy is an essential tool for a tolerant society, direct democracy leads to great thinkers drinking hemlock at the whim of the populace.

I'm now going to trawl your archive, insomnia is a terrible thing...

Tim Worstall said...

Well, yes and no.

I’m rather a fan of the Swiss system of cantons and then both cantonal and national referenda.

Seems to provide more democracy than our own system of elective dictatorship.

Paulie said...

"Representative democracy is an essential tool for a tolerant society, direct democracy leads to great thinkers drinking hemlock at the whim of the populace."

What a fantastic quote Mat. Is it your own? If so, *impressed*.

Also, if you just invented it and this is the only place it appears, I'm almost tempted to delete it, and then claim it as my own.


MatGB said...

I'd forgotten to come back here; this post has been in my 'blog this' folder of bookmarks for ages.

As far as I know, original, but I may be misquoting or paraphrasing, my memory is semi-eidetic, so I can sometimes do perfect text based recall with absolutely no idea where I'm getting something from...

I blame the insomnia for the inspiration, if I could come up with lines like that when I want to I'd be a speechwriter of repute. But, well it's no longer the only place it appears...

Paulie said...

Semi-eidetic. Is that what they call it?

I may even use your quote as my next blog subtitle (I’ve got an extract from the internationale at the moment). I will of course, attribute it. I promise. No, really, I do.

Cllr Andrew Brown (a Labour councilor in Lewisham) has commented to me (on another post) that the leadership of political parties tend to be more oppressive towards their elected members when they are insecure or immature.

In Labour’s case, they know that the civil service will do a perfectly good job without any fuss or attention from the newspapers. This could be another interpretation of Andrews word ‘mature’ (trans: been in power for a while)?

I’ll try and cook up a response to your related post on your own blog in due course – it’s very good btw, and there are one or two things I’d like to unpick (but think about first).

To start with, the question of how you can have constitutional change without …. er …. a constitution would be a good one. I’ve never bought this idea that an unwritten constitution is a constitution you see.

Neil Craig said...

I would favour referenda so long as they weren't allowed to, or at least had a resricted ability to vote for extending authority or increasing taxes. If they acted as a brake rather than a spur to taxation & restricting free dom I can see no objection.