democracy

Democracy, Libertarianism and the Trouble with Voting

Recorded straight after the last edition, we follow on with a discussion on the problems of our democratic system and whether we only have a choice of the “least worst” from here on in.

We talk about whether voting matters in a “safe seat”, and whether we have been unwittingly encouraging others to vote on twitter by pointing out how dangerous the Labour Party policies are.

Should Nic hold his nose and vote Tory to stop the Communists? Where do you draw the line with Socialism? Should you always vote for the least Socialist party?

We discuss all of this, and a hypothetical Libertarian Party that would have the power to dismantle all of it…if only they were voted in.

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This edition can be found here: https://youtu.be/TUBof8fsMBY
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Proroguing Parliament: What does it really mean for Brexit?

As predicted, Boris Johnson has decided to end the current parliamentary session (the longest in modern times), and trigger a new Queen’s Speech. Remainists are naturally going crazy, and talking of constitutional outrage.

But what does it actually mean for Brexit on 31 October? Is there time for fast-tracked, Bercow-enabled law that would either revoke Article 50, extend the deadline, or somehow prevent a “no deal”? What about passing a law that would stop prorogation itself? Is there even time left now in the parliamentary session?

We discuss all this and the finer details of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, and whether Boris has pulled a blinder.

Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/14/enacted

House of Commons Library Briefing Paper on Prorogation – https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8589

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What’s Up With Communism?

This week another book on communism was published. We know what you’re thinking. This time, it’s going to be different… So we question various obvious, and not so obvious, aspects to communism. What happens to privacy when others decide what I am allowed? How much slavery is acceptable? How is value determined? How can communism cope with scarcity? After all, resources aside, there are only a certain amount of man (or robot) hours in a day, limiting what we can build.

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Please visit our website to download or stream all our previous episodes and to read our articles.
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Lib Dems and Change UK: Anti-democratic Politics in the UK

In this latest episode, we discuss the Lib Dems and their recent successes in the EU elections and the latest polls. We reason why they’ve experienced a recent uplift before discussing Change UK: The Independent Group and why they’ve seen precisely the opposite.

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Reaction to the Labour Party split

It finally happened. More than 3 years after Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party and became Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, 7 Labour MPs have formally left the Labour Party and formed The Independent Group of MPs.

We discuss how they did it, what their motives might be, how they come across, and what it means for Labour, Conservatives, Brexit and more.

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People’s something – where have I heard that before?

Albania. Bulgaria. Czechoslovakia. Hungary. Poland. Romania. Yugoslavia.

What do they have in common?

How about Ethiopia?

Add in China and North Korea.

All have been or currently are countries that started their name with “People’s”.

Most of them liked to add “Republic” after that and some added “Democratic”.  All gives a certain legitimacy doesn’t it.

If we say it, declare it, name it, then it must be so.

Of course most people recognise that it is farce.

It is the mark of the authoritarian regime.

Clothe yourself in talk of the people and indeed in the people having a vote and surely everyone will buy into that?

No, they don’t.

For starters, let’s observe how many of those countries I’ve listed still have “People’s” in their title. Very few.

But yet with absolutely no irony – with dead straight faces in fact – was the “People’s Vote” campaign launched.

True democrats (God isn’t it depressing when you have to put “true” or “real”, “genuine” or “proper” in front of a term because it’s been distorted to mean the opposite?) have easily recognised and can explain away the call for a second referendum.

Yet as we approach Brexit Day, with only weeks to go, the mask seems to have slipped in the People’s Vote campaign.

Sure we can easily label it the Loser’s Vote, the Politician’s Vote, an affront to democracy etc. But actually none of those things need saying any more.

Whereas for over 2 years the opponents of leaving the European Union have couched their language in terms of “having a final say”, “making sure” and other such nonsense – all the while of course repeating that they “respect the outcome of the referendum” – they now have lost that campaign message discipline.

They now just say it like it is. Dammit we need to stop Brexit.

We were all too stupid the first time. We need to Remain.

Guardian journalists were predictably first.

Jonathan Freedland (what an ironic surname) says now is the time to just campaign for remain. No ifs or buts.

Polly Toynbee has gone one better by claiming that now some old people have died, their votes must be discarded.

Heaven forbid that the oldest in society might have the most experience and better judgement than those just starting out.

Of course democrats or generally sensible people don’t campaign for the votes of younger adults to be halved or discounted. They believe in the basic principles of one person one vote.

I thought we could all agree on that. But then the EU referendum occurred and the true colours of the opposition were shown.

Legal challenges, mud thrown, campaigns for overturning democratic decisions.

But we shouldn’t be surprised should we?

It’s a “People’s” Vote after all.

Photo by Dirk Spijkers on Unsplash

Every day hypocrisy: You cannot have it both ways

In this edition, we recap on what actually happened during & after our last podcast recording, and how it informed the way we discuss & debate issues.

By understanding & agreeing each others points of view, a whole vocabulary & context is created that makes examining issues far easier.

And then we explore a list of popular political, social & cultural contradictions.

Can you really have it both ways? We debate the hypocrisy and stupidity of our favourites.

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We don’t need a general election, but MPs do need to resign

In his recent Spectator piece, Stephen Daisley outlines the political conundrum of Brexit well: the voters want Brexit, the executive wants Brexit, but Parliament does not want Brexit.

Now taking face value that the executive does actually want Brexit (Theresa May certainly doesn’t), Daisley explains that with the problem being the make up of the house of commons, that we need a general election to get a new batch of MPs.

But a general election is much like a second referendum, in that it lets MPs off the hook.

Even when given a clear decision on what to do, MPs (and Ministers, and Prime Ministers) can dither, prevaricate, delay and obfuscate until there comes such a time when they say “sorry, this is too difficult, back to you”.

Of course, what this means is that they didn’t like the decision that was handed to them, and they want a new one. Is this how we should let them behave?

MPs have a problem with Leaving. They wouldn’t be calling for a second referendum or a general election had the country voted majority Remain. They like Remaining.

But it’s also more than that. It’s about the fact that these MPs who call for a second referendum are putting their politics first, before democracy.

Yes, we have witnessed a clash of two kinds of democracy – Direct in the form of the referendum, and Representative in the form of our MPs – but after voting for the referendum bill itself, and again in triggering Article 50 of the Treaties, they are choosing to dump the decision made by the people in favour of their own personal views.

There is a dilemma here for MPs – there is no doubt about that. They are elected by their constituents to make decisions, to make law, to scrutinise government, to be in government.

But they are revealing, quite clearly, where they rank the decision made by the majority of the country compared to their own views as elected representatives.

Remain first, democracy second.

Of course, what they are hoping for, by dragging out this process for so long, is to make Parliament and Government look as dysfunctional as possible. They want to be able to say “See, this is too complicated, we need you to have your say again – look how we are mucking this up”.

This may have the effect they desire, with voters becoming ever more frustrated with their politicians, but they are missing the point. Brexit was a vote against the establishment, and the status quo. By making the establishment seem incompetent (revealing that it is?) that sense of disenfranchisement only strengthens.

Populist sentiment will only increase. If Leave isn’t delivered in any kind of meaningful way (like signing a Withdrawal Agreement that is more Remain than Remain) that sentiment will rise again.

Undo the referendum result entirely and stop Brexit and things could get nasty.

If MPs don’t want to implement the decision given to them by a national referendum, then they should resign as MPs.

They should make room for someone in their constituency who is willing to represent that decision and implement it.

There is another way of changing the make up of the House of Commons, and it’s not a general election, it’s a by election. In this case, potentially hundreds of by elections.

The problem, as identified by Daisley, is indeed the logjam of parliament. But a general election just means the same candidates trying to keep their jobs and to convince you of their views, not the other way around.

These MPs say more democracy is the answer, but if they had any sense of democracy whatsoever, they would be resigning in their droves, to make way for representatives that would indeed represent the voters, and who had the guts to implement what they have already decided.

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

Democracy: What is it? And can we have too much?

This week, Nic asks some intriguing questions about democracy and we both try our best to find some answers.

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Please visit our website to download or stream all our previous episodes and to read our articles.
Remember, you can now subscribe on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWzAT–UxzErq_UU5SCUtFg
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