Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oh yes.

This blog has a new pin-up. Here he is. Prof Tony McWalter, an ex-Labour MP.

Now, before you stick a list of the Prof's shortcomings and perfidies in the comments box here, I'm basing this judgement purely on what he said on Saturday (24th Feb) morning's 'Today Programme' at 8.37am (I've only just checked that I wasn't dreaming and I've transcribed* some of it for you.

Discussing (alongside Tim Garton-Ash) whether politicians should be 'fighting the forces of evil', both discussants agreed that they should. McWalter's objection was to the means by which such decisions were reached. Tony Blair, he argued...

"...has a sense of mission that excludes him from taking advice or understanding that moral wisdom is distributed. He doesn't ask for advice very much."

"The PM ....doesn't understand the notion of argument. He has a conviction and he tries to see that conviction through. And that has all sorts of major consequences. His concept of democracy [that Tony Blair discussed with John Humphreys on an extended interview earlier in the week] is that 'we can can get rid of the government'. He doesn't understand that democracy is about distributed democracy and that moral wisdom is distributed just as scientific wisdom is. And what he has to understand is that the horrible disfigurement of our constitution - that has an office that is so authoritarian - has got to be broken up and replaced by a system in wich the PM is 'primus inter pares' - the first among equals."

Obviously, Humphrys wasn't interested in this line of thinking, so he goes back to the question of what Prime Ministers are supposed to do about 'bad guys' (this is what the Humphrys of this world are for). McWalter ploughs on:

"The sheer authoritarianism of Tony Blair's approach ultimately results in bad government. That is the real problem we've got. "

JH: "So what we want is someone with strong moral views, but someone who be tempered by, and will listen to the advice of others?... so there needs to be someone whispering in his ear?"

TM: "not whispering in his ear, no. Parliament shouts at him regularly but he absents himself from debates when he should be listening to the representatives of the people. I've talked about the PM needing a philosophy. What he needs to do is to read Tom Paine, because Tom Paine says that we need representative democracy.

We don't just need to get rid of people when we are fed up with them. We need constant contact between the representatives of the people and those who run the country. And Tony Blair has insulated himself hugely from those who represent the people in this country. We need a restoration of a truly representative democracy."
*This is a quick transcription that I've done. I've cut a few corners, but I'm confident that I've not altered any of McWalters' meaning here.

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