Let us start a campaign to save democracy.
It does not matter which party you support or if you-understandably- say a plague on all their houses.
Democracy is being killed by lies.
Democracy is being destroyed by fake news.
Democracy is being damaged by deliberately misleading innuendo.
It is being killed by spin and PR stunts.
Democracy is being distorted by shifting attention from fact to appearance. Form not function.
Democracy is the only hope of us- the people- the poor- those without power.
Do not let the professionals - from ALL parties- destroy what little power we have.
Democracy is being damaged by increasing levels of both verbal and physical violence, aimed at candidates and activists.
Refute the lies and expose the perpetrators.
It does not matter which party you support, it does not matter if you support none.
Save democracy; point out the lies, the misleading statements, the distortions of fact. Press the law enforcement agencies to act against violence.
One of the favourite tricks of distortion is to claim the “other party” intends to do “XX” when the writer knows full well they do not, but by the time the denial is published some will have believed it and anyway the writer then claims they changed their mind due to the publicity.
This is manufactured false distortion of truth and can have no place if democracy is to survive, help kick it out of the democratic process. Tell candidates that if they are exposed using “dirty” tricks they lose your vote.
Any politician and every ardent supporter of any political faction avoids the truth. That has always been the case, it does not matter which party. A new trend is the spreading of false information, Facebook is full of claims that the Conservatives are going to do this or other claims which are lies and have no connection to what Conservatives actually going to or even want to do. It is shredding all democratic ideals, turning debate into a farce and denying the people of Britain a real choice based on actual facts.
We need better education of voters of all ages, an education in how to spot and ignore fake news. One of the problems is that school teachers have become politically active. As a person born in the 1940's and educated in a time when no teacher would have even thought of advocating their own politics to students, it is hard to accept that the youngest children and through to university graduates are all being given biased personal views by teachers.
There is another enemy undermining democracy, it is the subversion of voter's wishes by the bureaucrats, who control our lives without public responsibility.
This may not be a question in the front of people's minds but it was a large factor in the British vote to leave the EU and probably a factor in the mass appeal of President Trump.
In every form of government, there are the politicians who make the speeches and rouse the population but everyone knows that the unseen people, the bureaucrats, actually run things on a day to day basis. The men of vision persuade people to follow their dream but once started down the path, they leave the details, the small print, the mechanics, to others. The “faceless ones.”
Britain had a very popular TV show called Yes Minister, in which a less than clever politician is maneuvered and out maneuvered by “Sir Humphrey” a career bureaucrat who was only interested in furthering the scope, control, and salary of bureaucrats. It was a comedy but only because it greatly exaggerated what most of the audience considered to be a true situation. A great deal of what we find funny is simply life exaggerated.
In Britain, up until relatively recently, it was thought that civil servants should not get involved in “politics”. It was the official line that the same civil servants worked for successive governments regardless of the party ideology since they followed orders and did their best to enact the wishes of the elected government.
This gradually changed, the changes seem to have been caused by a combination of factors. In those days, promotion and salary increases were based on two things, the length of service and the “responsibility" which was measured by the number of junior personnel who reported to you. This obviously led to empire building, creating a fictitious need for junior assistance and it also led to the most well-paid people being those who simply stayed longest.
When the size and cost of “the government” became too great, some politicians wished to reduce the number of civil servants—bureaucrats-- and they also wished to introduce meritocracy. This caused a reaction from the bureaucrats, especially the more senior ones, the ones with some power to obstruct and delay. Opposition parties took advantage, suggesting if the government was to be discredited and a new election voted their party into power, they would stop the reduction in bureaucratic growth. In practice, the modernizers, the advocates of a slimmer, a less costly government machine, never did reduce the numbers much, but they did slow the rate of growth and introduce at least a facade of meritocracy.
As it was now in their own personal “best interest” bureaucrats became politically biased, in favor of the ideology they saw as furthering their own careers. This is naturally not made obvious but they, even unconsciously, obstruct, delay and reduce the effectiveness of policies they do not support.
My knowledge of the American system is limited to avidly following the TV show “West Wing” but I gather the senior figures in an administration are chosen by the elected president and they leave when he- or she- does. In some ways, this sounds a more open and transparent way of doing things but I wonder what happens further down the bureaucratic food chain.
So what can we, the voters, the tax payers, the public, do about a bureaucracy that is ever expanding, ever more in control of our lives but without our being able to exercise any control over it?
One obvious way is to only elect politicians who show they can manage the bureaucracy, can actually and actively control their departments. This requires a move away from career politicians, those with a degree in political science or sociology and whose only work experience is working for political parties, unions or quasi-governmental organizations. It requires the election, and promotion, of politicians with real life experience and the strength of will, the sharpness of intellect and the staying power, to overcome the civil servants supposedly working to their orders. This may mean we have to pay larger salaries to elected members of parliament, in order to attract the right people, we also have to give them the power to control and overrule civil servants. It will be worth it in the long term.
Another possible way, but this has its dangers, is to devolve power away from centralized government down to the smallest workable social unit, in England this is the Parish and the parish council. The danger is the bureaucrats will spot a huge growth area for themselves. The devolving down of power must be accompanied by the tax payers money- taken from the budgets of the national and regional authorities. There must be strict rules on the number of administrative staff allowed. The use of computer systems should allow the transference of “human resources costs” from administration to front line, those actually doing the job. This will also need a return to the situation where those actually doing the work are given back the responsibility and control-- especially the control- over what they do. They must be allowed, and encouraged, to use their own initiative, if mending one pot hole and seeing another nearby, they fix this too; not wait until 3 office people have visited the site filling in 5 forms held a committee meeting and sent 10 memos asking them to fix it.
One big benefit of this devolution is that local people can find local solutions, no longer one size fits all just because some central government boss does not know that not everywhere is the same as London or Washington. The people of Yorkshire Dales can have as much power and right as the people who live in Kensington west London. The farmers in the great plains will control the detail of their own area, not people in Washington.
Any other ideas on how to make the actual bureaucracy accountable to the people who pay the taxes? One way would be to make a strictly controlled maximum proportion of the departmental budget that can be spent on administration. There would have to be clearly defined, in detail, what counts as administration and these definitions and all the accounts would have to be available for elected politicians to view and check at any time. Maybe even a bonus payment to the boss who kept the admin cost proportion lower than the maximum.
Also needed are clarity and completeness of definitions, from what the responsibilities of a department are, to the publication of all their working documents. This needs political governance, managed by people who actually know what they are doing.
The quality of those we elect is probably the key to bringing bureaucracy under control.
Democracy is under threat, not just from those who openly oppose the idea of governance by the people for the people.
But also by extremes of both left and right political thinking, all of whom believe that the people are being led astray and only having themselves in absolute power can change this. There are political activists who believe that anything done to promote their own ideals, is acceptable. This is an arrogance, a sort of psycho political belief and must be contained and banished.