Democracy for dummies


PUBLIC perception of politics has rarely been more cynical than it is today. Rarely have voters felt so excluded from the democratic process. Fewer bother to vote; they sense that their doing so only adds weight to a disgraced system of government. As one wit put it: ‘Don’t vote: It will only encourage them.’

George Bernard Shaw observed that the English, once every five years, are granted democracy. They then go to the polling booths and elect dictators.


In my opinion the electoral procedure is fraudulent. It begins its upward crawl in a room used by local party activists.

To these feisty fests will be invited party members who show varying levels of interest. From the few hardcore activists, often no more than several stalwarts, one may be judged suitable to stand in local elections. If their party is mainstream the election will be a rubber stamping process; people tend to vote for parties rather than people.

Party HQ often chooses the candidate and he or she will be parachuted in. How did they get there in the first place? It is a shadowy world of back-stabbing, cronyism; an inner sanctum pecking order from which the public are excluded. Are brown envelopes passed from hand to hand? In a word, yes. Was it ever otherwise?

“Poor Edward: Now there’s bound to be a General Election, and now faced with the prospect of losing £2,000 a year from the Czechs; and his seat in parliament too. Can you believe it?”

These are the words of the American novelist and wife of General Sir Edward Spears lamenting the fact that because of the Munich Peace Agreement having being signed her husband would no longer receive Czech bribes for his anti-German stance in parliament. £2,000 at the time was a considerable bung.

So much for democracy!  It gives us a Minister of Transport who can just about manage a bike; a Health Minister who would struggle to put a bandage on; government ministers who between them have not run a business for a single day. We then wonder why it doesn’t work.

Sadly, the world is now thought to be more corrupt than it was just three years ago. Some 56 per cent of those interviewed by Transparency International said their country had become more crooked.

A BBC poll reveals that it is corruption, not wars or climate change that is the most talked about problem.

Of the institutions thought to have a problem political parties are seen as being the most dishonest. In 2004 71 per cent thought them fraudulent. That figure is now 80 per cent.

The European Union is not immune and is headed by a president and chamber chosen by a process few would regard as democratic. It is a sobering thought that Adolf Hitler could lay better claim to electoral answerability that can this obscure EU body.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski recently presented his credentials at the court of U.S. President Barrack Obama.

A few days earlier his ruling party appointed the unelected Rev. John Godson as Member of Parliament. Quite an achievement: The reverend is a Protestant Nigerian immigrant in a predominantly Catholic country in which there are only 4,000 African residents.

Analysts blame rising anxiety on the global financial crisis for undermining people’s faith in government, banks and economic institutions.

What did they blame before?



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