MANIFESTO OF A BENEVOLENT DICTATOR

This is an edited version of the full text.  If you desire the full dusicssion please ask on norman.harris@20ccltd.co.uk

Our fragile democracy

Introduction

The British Parliament or Mother of all Parliaments as it is known throughout the world is in danger of losing its reputation, largely by its own actions and inactions.  Our Civil War established the supremacy of Parliament.  Such a war is of course unthinkable today, but the principle of supremacy over the Executive must stand.  Brave souls such as Gina Miller and our Supreme Court’s judges are ensuring the principal stands despite despicable criticism from the Press and key Government ministers, who should know better.

There is a difference between our Parliament and many of the parliaments that have followed it.  Whereas most others have a semi circular layout and are intended to be more consensual.  Ours is adversarial in layout, two swords lengths apart, and in style.  Our Parliamentary debates and especially PMQs are regarded as some form of robust entertainment in the United States.  There are now many parties and factions in the House.  It might seem strange for a Benevolent Dictator to seek consensus, but of course I do not agree with the woman who tried to be ours this year, the wrong Dictator is the worst form of Government.  It is not however rare, as Russia, China, Turkey and Egypt are already so governed along with many more in Africa and South America.

I have mentioned the UK – the United Kingdom.  Never in recent centuries has there has been such danger that the United will be no longer the case.  It will probably still be a “Kingdom”, but Scotland and now Northern Ireland may find that they are more at home with the EU than the UK.  With Scotland, it may be a case of the best excuse yet to break away, although the GE2017 in June put a dent in that intention.  To me Scotland seems currently to have substantial control, short of Independence, indeed as much as the German Lander.  I argue in several places in this document that the standard of local services should be debated, set and paid for locally.

With NI it may be expediency about an EU border, but the sectarian dangers involved are hard to assess and very unpleasant to contemplate.  The Irish Republic still yearns for a united Ireland.  But we, dissenting English and Welsh  have now to contemplate two land borders with Europe on our own islands.

We have got here because of 2 disastrous decisions by Conservative PMs looking only for the needs of their own party and not the Country as a whole.  David Cameron set us on a Referendum course not thinking that it would be lost, but he took part in a campaign that was ignorant and and untrue.  Then Ms May thinking she may get a better majority took the country to the polls and lost again.  Europe can be justified in thinking that the Government is not negotiating in Brussels on behalf of the British nation.

We could be on the verge of more socialist government that the UK has ever had, although deep down the voting numbers are not as good as the Labour activists may wish the nation to think.  Exposing the nation to the 2017 conference’s more radical speakers from the floor in precedence to senior MPs, may also work against them.

I would be better pleased with a united British Isles.  That is impossible for a century or two!  Indeed the pressure throughout Europe is the opposite and seems to be to break up into small historically tribal states rather than the “mega” groupings such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK.  The UK following devolution has pressure to have regional assemblies.  A guide to this is perhaps found in a post nuclear attack survival plan of the 50s when the UK was divided into 12 regional administrations.  Rather complex, but not impossible for normal peacetime.

The Civil Service

As an aside, thank goodness, that the UK does not have a politicised Civil Service and Judiciary as is the way in the USA.  The Supreme Court Judges and downwards to all Federal Judges are political appointments.  When the President changes, whole rafts of the US Civil Service go causing much loss in experience.  A factor in the chaos of the early days of the Trump Presidency.

Local Government Policy

The Government and this Dictator feel that more powers should be devolved to Local Councils.  Revenue raising powers should also devolve.  The Calman Report should be applied to more regions than just Scotland

Boundary Commission

The Boundaries Commission has the remit to establish, in terms of population, roughly equals sized constituencies, bearing in mind natural and social boundaries.  The current recommendations have become political and are not happening to schedule.  So at some point in the future they will be out of date.  This is a great pity and means the issue that there are too many MPs especially now considering the devolved legislatures, is kicked into the long grass again.  In the US, the gerrymandering of boundaries is a fine art meaning that very few seats ever change party representation.  The same is true here with too few constituencies being marginal and thus prone to the unseating the sitting MP or party.

Devolution & Constitutional Reform

The strength of Britain is its components and its traditions.  Tony Blair’s excursions into this area were never part of a fully thought through plan and, now added to the strains of Brexit, could prove to be the undoing of the UK.  As an ordinary individual I can hope that reason prevails, but as a Dictator I would stop it.

Clearly the MPs expenses situation needs urgent attention; it has already done considerable damage to their collective reputation in the eyes of the public.  What could be simpler than expenses being “Receipted and Reasonable”?  Even with a complex set of rules, judgments calls will still have to be made.  So let us have a powerful independent committee assessing all expenses and “second jobs”.  Lock the Party leaders into accepting the decisions taken on their “subordinates” calls on the public purse.  Far better than any recall system as it is hard to see how it could be guaranteed not to be used inappropriately.  Better instead to have automatic disqualification for certain misdemeanours.

Fundamentally we do not pay our legislators too much but we do have far too many of them.  Since I would wish to include MEPs and Regional Governments in any formula on the total number of legislators covering an area.  For example, as powers devolve to the Regions those areas should require fewer seats in Westminster.  And revenue raising powers should follow and central subsidies reduced.  Then such legislatures will have to tax for their money and be answerable for those taxes.  The same argument can be extended to the Metro Mayors.  The Calman Report deserves our support and to be applied beyind the borders of Scotland.

Electoral Fraud

This is a new or at least recent phenomenon in the UK.  Shades of a banana republic.  It is thought by many that one reason for the early Election in June 2017 was the potential prosecutions of 30 Tory MPs for not following the rules on election expenses.  In the end only one prospective candidate was charged.

For the entire content of Our Fragile Democracy, please just ask me by email to norman.harrias@20ccltd.co.uk