'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics
'An influential activist' - The Guardian
'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman
'You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron
Sunday, 16 March 2014
As we mourn Benn, the rise of unelected power should shame us
My latest in the New Statesman - which I see has twice as many comments over there as the article that prodded it, written by Douglas Alexander. Which I find quite funny.
"Having served for nearly half a century in the House of Commons, I now want more time to devote to politics and more freedom to do so."
While it’s 15 years since he said that, Tony Benn’s words today seem more apposite than ever, albeit in a way he didn’t intend. For democracy seems to be in a very poor state of repair just now, and power seems to lie increasingly not with our elected representatives, but with the elites and the establishment.
The world argues over the rights and wrongs of the Ukraine. The west howls because a referendum is going to be held asking the people of Crimea what they want, ostensibly objecting because it is "unconstitutional" (one suspects what they really mean is "we will lose"). Meanwhile, 20,000 Russian soldiers waltz into the region, largely because they know no one will stop them. And today two politicians, neither of whom come from the Ukraine, will meet in London to try and thrash out a solution to the problem that will set the future for its people. For what it’s worth, neither of those politicians are elected by the nations they hail from either.
The worst conflict in the world currently is the civil war in Syria. The democracies of the world watch helplessly as the two unelected sides battle it out, the innocent population bearing the brunt of, what I heard described last week as a de facto war between two completely different countries – Iran (currently 158th of the 167 countries listed on the EIUs Democracy Index) and Saudi Arabia (our ally, currently lying 163rd on that list, five places lower than Iran and a remarkable 21 places lower than, er, China).
It seems more than ever that the establishment are determined to decide what’s best for everyone, rather than letting the people decide for themselves. But then again, as another politician of whom Tony Benn approved once wrote, “if voting changed anything, they’d abolish it”.