I used to think we lived in a democracy. Unfortunately the political classes have forgotten that. Or more realistically they have found a way to retain the pretence of democracy but without all that troublesome need to actually reflect the will of the ordinary people.
The recent farce of a referendum on changing the voting system shows how false our democracy really is these days. Everyone I spoke to wanted a vote on PR. That was what most people wanted instead of First Past the Post. The political class knew this and they knew the pressure was building for a change. So what did they do? They gave the people what they wanted, a vote on changing the system.
Well in fact they gave the people HALF of what they wanted. Yes they gave us a vote, but they rigged the question so that the result was irrelevant. Effectively the question was "Do you want no change to our voting system or do you want a change that will effectively make no difference to the results"
A brilliant piece of real politic. Give the people the appearance of choice and then do what you wanted to do in the first place. Anyone who has been through a government "consultation" process will know exactly how that is done.
With this in mind I was surprised by the honesty of a senior advisor to Ed Milliband who explained why the Labour Party will not back a referendum on in/out of the EU. The Daily Express contacted the Labour Leader, Ed Milliband, to ask if he would side with the Daily Express and back an In/Out referendum?
One of Milliband's aides thought about this briefly before replying: “The problem with that is that the British people would probably vote to leave the EU.”
The pro-EU blinkers were firmly on, it was Brussels first and democracy a distant second.
A letter written in response to a query from one of the Labour Leader's constituents also contained the claim that a referendum on EU Membership isn't necessary because we had one in 1975. This overlooks the fact that the EU did not exist in 1975. The vote the British people were permitted was merely to rubber-stamp a decision to join the “Common Market” that had already been implemented by the political class.
So do we live in a democracy? Apparently yes but in reality no. The political class pay lip service to representing the people but in reality they represent only the political class. The Tory Party used to make no bones about the fact that they represented the property owning, ruling classes. The Labour Party represented the working class. The Lib-Dems represented those people who were confused over their identity, working class people who couldn't make the intellectual step to the Tories or Tories who became embarrassed by the divisions in our society but couldn't quite bring themselves to join the nasty, uncivilised working class. Now of course all three parties are almost indistinguishable at the top.
The parties are like a growing forest. Initially separate trees grow and compete for sunlight and space. As they get bigger they retain their own roots and separate trunks but the uppermost branches merge into a continuous canopy where you can't tell one tree from another. The big three parties in the UK are now thoroughly merged at the top, to the point where it's almost irrelevant which trunk you climb up, once you reach your place in the sun at the top of the tree then you are at the top of them all and everyone you meet there is the same as you are.
The other advantage (well advantage if you are at the top) of a mature canopy is that it provides a secure place where the people at the top can reproduce. If you are born up there then you stay there. The realities of the dark floor of the forest are unknown to you. You don't have to climb the trunk, you are born to live in the sunlight amongst the upper branches and all your friends and contemporaries are also from the top of the trees. So you may be from a Labour Tree or A Tory Tree originally but it doesn't really matter.
The other advantage of being at the top of a big tree is that the interlocking branches completely shut out the sunlight from the forest floor. Down there in the gloom and twilight a new tree trying to establish itself cannot survive. This is why it is so hard to establish a new political party in the UK, the established parties make sure they keep the lion's share of the sunlight!