Apologies - this may turn into a slightly long one.
I've been mulling this one over for a some time now and keep alluding to it in my blog, but I haven't really developed the idea too far until now. Thanks to Wittering Witney I was prompted into this by a post he placed up a few days ago. It got me thinking and fortunately a couple of other articles that appeared at a similar point in time stregthened them and started to bring it together and was compounded by the recent news of the problems with the US debt ceiling vote which was capped off with the downgrade by S&P yesterday.
In the post over at Wittering Witney, David has begun work to identify what a democracy in this country should look like. He has made it something of an open forum to examine other ideas because like many of us, he feels the current one is broke in a large number of ways. I started to give some thought to it but was struggling to a point which only served to illustrate David's point of how little serious thought that we had given it. If you have any ideas, I recommend you head over there and add your contribution for discussion.
My contribution to the process comes at it from a slightly different angle but in support of it For such an idea to succeed and grow, I think needs a body of people to get us to the point where such ideas could become possible. The present people and pervading culture apparently running has reduced asking the people what they want and acting to a pretence. Politicans of all hues make a big song and dance about democracy in this country, all the time dangling tantalising gifts in front of our eyes, whilst simultaneously working out complex ways to deny us any of them.
As examples of this, I give you our so called EU referendum lock in which contains a strange array of hoops to jump through before it gets to the people. In addition I give you the so called e-petitions that are currently being touted as putting democracy back in your hands. Have you spotted the common theme of both of them? In reality there is a stage at which the closed shop of Parliament gets to look at them and go "erm.... No".
And then we have this little gem from a few days back in the Telegraph. There is a bill in Parliament ready to take a second reading in which we will discuss our own debt ceiling. It was this that really brought it home for me. On the face of it it sounds like a good idea and sounds like a real set of checks and balances. I think it would be if there were real checks and balances to it, but take a look at it again. The whole thing takes place in parliament which is similar to how it was in the US. But lets have a look back over the pond shall we? The reality there was that it became in effect, a rubber stamping exercise. There was probably a bit of jockeying but ultimately it often passed because it was run by politicians whose first thought was their own election and reelection to secure their place at a trough. Of course as everywhere they may have been some politicians of principle but clearly the overriding preference was to keep spending and kick the proverbial can down the road.
We have increasing evidence that something similar is taking place here. Back at Wittering Witney, David has put up a post about the new intake's primary interest being their own self advancement. So we have to ask ourselves what any of these mechanisms will be worth if the majority of the new or old guard in Parliament's overriding thought is to serve their own ends and not ours.
Going back to the debt ceiling debate in the US, the only thing that changed anything was the growth and influence of the Tea Party Movement. Unfortunately if you've been subject to coverage of this using only UK media, the chances are you've received a very different picture of the debate and the Tea Party. Despite the coverage of, for example, the BBC, the Tea Party aren't the ones who brought the US government and economy to the brink by attempting to stop the President's attempts to fix the deficit. For a relatively quick summary you can look at threads over at Biased BBC such as this one.
What in reality happened is that through their efforts they achieved a seat at the debating table. How has have they achieved that? Well they have made it clear that a politicians place at the trough depends on them. Those that challenged this found themselves out of office.
And so I come back to Britain.
To influence democracy and the restoration of Britain, we need to get our seat back at the table. Doing that needs a body of people to bring that about, who wish to see a return to smaller government following a responsible fiscal strategy of lower government spending who create an environment in which individual enterprise and personal and national excellence flourish.
I believe that like the US we need a Tea Party movement here in the UK.
For me it is an idea whose time has come here in Britain. For those who aren't aware, the Tea Party aren't a party as such despite the name. The Tea Party is a movement comprised of people who in the main share the ideas of the restoration of their country. Common to pretty much all of them is a common core of principles of small government etc.What particularly resonates with me are the mantras of Taxed Enough Already and No Tax Without Representation
For me a Tea Party answers the problem we have of party allegiance in Britain. The view of many is that you can no longer tell parties apart any more. There are other failures of the party system in representing people in recent times leading to the idea that holding to one part alone serves no purpose as all of them seem to have been hijacked by people with little or no interest in us or the country and are managed by a whip system which currently has the hand on the voting and speaking habits of our MP's.
Regulars may be aware of my view that the only reason whips and parties hold the leash on our MPs is that we have handed it to them and that our MPs also behave as they do because we have allowed them to by disengaging. However the reality is that at present we hold the real power to their place at the trough and in the face of our power to remove them and replace them at the trough with someone who was willing to follow our principles, such behaviour might change and the power balance might change. That has been the key to the influence of the Tea Party in the US and is something that can follow here with a public following.
The key to this is local action and here is another similarity with the Tea Party. The Tea Party gathers its strength as a movement by acting as local chapters. They aren't a party, they are a series of local chapters that network nationally. It isn't top down and subject to hijack from a central command. Their central command are core principles. Yes there are leading lights who speak nationally and share some of the common thinking and move the debate along, but the local chapter set up is the predominant model. In Britain, I think that could work for us as our power base is locally, where our MP must come to answer to us and is where we decide if he or she returns to Parliament or not.
I think it is time and will use this blog to help those also interested in the concept to grow and develop their local chapters through searching for tools that will help them grow their chapters. I will also continue to blog about other things. Those will be my actions, but as I say, such an idea and the development of the ideas Wittering Witney is working takes a body of people. The question will be, will those body of people come? I cannot say, but without them we will deserve the downfall we will get.
It is now up to you. Related blog entries will start with the phrase British Tea and on Twitter, related subjects will have the hashtag #BritishTea