We have woken up
The EU Referendum has woken us up. During the referendum campaign, people discussed the issues in homes and workplaces. People thought about the pros and cons and grappled with the meaning of democracy, sovereignty, borders and nationality. As a people we started to feel what a thriving democracy could be like. The vote result was a blow for democracy itself. Everyone had an equal say – whether you worked on the check-out in Morrisons or you were an Oxford Don. The referendum saw the biggest turnout of voters because they knew that it would have an impact – it made a difference. The majority of people voted to “take control”.
So, how do we make this democratic sentiment a lived reality? How do we re-energise political discussion and bring the big issues back into the public realm? How do we ensure that political decisions are taken after ideas have been publicly contested and the majority of people won over to an agreed course of action? How do we give government genuine legitimacy?
Civil servants are still sleep walking
As politics has been hollowed out over the years, politician, advisors and civil servants have created their own priorities and sense of purpose. They have become distanced from public legitimacy. Their policies have not been tested by the need to gain support in the public domain.
One example is the UK’s pursuit of the largest project in peace-time – the de-carbonisation of Britain’s power supply. This is a £300 billion project which directs resources to policies which bring no benefit to human health, wealth or happiness. It takes resources away from areas which are valued by the public and increases energy and living costs year-on-year. The recent rise in cost of domestic energy prices are a small, but visible, example. The cost of UK industrial energy is one of the highest in the world and is a disincentive to energy-intensive industries from data centres to ceramics.
The Climate Change Act was passed in 2008, with only 5 MPs voting against and yet, the costs were never discussed. It has no mandate and no legitimacy. The project’s success is measured against the sole criteria of reducing carbon dioxide emissions (which it has failed to do), not against the overall costs and impacts.
The need for a public mandate
To gain legitimacy, the government needs a mandate. It can be done in the following way:
- Fully review the evidence – in this case the climate change forecasts against the predictions; the accuracy of the data itself and role of politicians in directing research
- Outline the real costs and benefits – CO2 emissions against the cost renewables, replacing home gas boilers and cookers and funding 50% electric cars (that is the current plan, by the way)
- Agree on the principles – I would argue, for example, that energy policy should be aimed at improving our lives by making it 1. cheap 2. plentiful 3. reliable
- Public debate
- Gain a mandate for a policy
This approach can be applied to a number of policy areas – health, education, transport etc.
To make democracy a lived reality, we must demand that the government only acts with a mandate from us.
Some background reading on the de-carbonisation project
Peter Lilly’s report on the £300 billion Climate Act project
Matt Ridley ‘Politics and science are a toxic combination
Daily Mail Expose – Climategate 2
Parliament got a mandate when we voted in the referendum on the understanding that however we voted was what the Government would do. Everything else is just prevarication and an attempt to thwart the will of the people. Government should now get on with enacting our departure from the EU.
I agree. I am keen that we take the democratic spirit demonstrated by Brexit and embed it in political life. This could make us into a truly democratic people.
Brexit showed the bankruptcy of the liberal left with its identity, cultural politics. This has no relevance for working people and provides no alternative to the neo-liberalism of the establishment. The referendum vote represented a protest vote of the working class, seeing mass immigration eroding wages and conditions and placing pressure on the health service, schools and housing. It had nothing to do with racism. The vitriolic reaction of the liberal left revealed how far they are from representing the interests of working people.
The myth of man-made climate change is being used to support the de-industrialisation of Western Europe and the USA and the transfer of industry to the Far East, Mexico and the Pacific rim, taking advantage of cheap, non-unionised labour. At the same time, the profits of ‘green’ energy producers have risen dramatically. The environmental movement has been hi-jacked by the climate change agenda, meaning that important issues such as air pollution and its effects on health are being ignored.
What is needed at present is to build on the debate begun by Brexit and to engage working people. But there is a role for political theory in this process. To fight against the global capitalist system and the neo-liberalism which is being used to support it we need to understand it and to educate ourselves. An anti-intellectual approach is not the answer. Academics cannot be trusted – their jobs depend on them diverting students away from a real analysis of the current situation and on leading them up the blind alleys of identity politics and left liberalism, ignoring the importance of class. The focus is on racism, feminism, gender politics and away from a class based interpretation of events. An alternative to the Alt Right and liberal left can and must be found. More analysis can be found on http://www.facebook.com/truthdigger.
Thanks for your post. I’s like to take a look at your writing, but the link to your Facebook page “isn’t available”.
Sorry the link didn’t work. This is the address that appears in the address bar for the Truth Digger facebook page – hope it works – please let me know if it doesn’t!
You might be interested in a new article on the blog -‘The truth about UKIP’ https://truthdiggerblog.wordpress.com/