Saturday, February 13, 2016

Democracy could die here this year..

In fact it may already be dead.

Let us not fool ourselves that we still live in a democracy as we did even twenty years ago.

After last year's election the Conservatives had a bigger majority than they, or in fact any of us, expected. However, the brutal way in which they have gone about implementing their agenda (as opposed to their manifesto), can leave us in no doubt that democracy as we have known it is over.

Overreaction?

Perhaps, but upwards of half a million (primarily young) people will lose their right to vote under new government registration laws. These have been brought in through the pernicious use of Statutory Instruments, designed in the 1940’s to free up parliamentary time in the post war rebuild. They are now being written into Parliamentary Bills to allow the detail to worked out in obscurity. Thus fracking, maintenance grants, and the already mentioned electoral changes have been foisted upon us.

In this year- when the BBC is fighting for its charter renewal- the primary source of unbiased media is under attack.

In this year- the Independent has gone off print. Our print media is overwhelmingly dominated by the right. They are rarely held to account for the untruths they tell on page one and apologise for on page 27.

In this year- The TTIP agreement may slip in under the radar. By attacking how the EU legislators take our rights, the anti Europe edge are creating a vacuum in which TTIP may become part of our world unfettered by democratic process.

TTIP, for the uninitiated, is a set of trade negotiations which aim to lower the barriers for trade between the US and Europe. Its an attempt to create a large trading block that might break the tyranny of China in the global market. But it also means that things like the NHS will be opened up to US companies, that food safety rules might e relaxed to suit US laws. Effectively it suggests that what businesses want should trump what governments have decided.

It will play well for those who think that European bureaucrats should stop telling us what size our bananas should be. But those people also stop GM food from slipping into our world with no notice. They make sure that food is properly labelled so that nut allergy sufferers, coeliacs and others can live a tolerable life. All of that is under threat. 10 people in Britain died last year from nut allergies (with non labelled items the biggest culprit), 5 were killed by bees (which TTIP also may wipe out) and no-one was killed by terrorism.

In David Cameron’s bold renegotiation of Europe, TTIP hasn’t been touched. This single piece of trade negotiation will take vast amounts of sovereignty from every nation who signs up and place it in the hands of people whose job is to make money.

We live in dangerous and difficult times. The dangers and difficulties are not what the papers will tell us or what David Cameron will colour up and splutter about. The dangers are that a very small group of very privileged people are making decisions based on a view of the world that most of us simply do not share.

So what do we do? There will be a further post after I’ve had a coffee.

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