Monday, February 16, 2009

The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain

My cry of pain about the death of British justice and liberties has provoked no interest whatsoever. As a result, I won’t hesitate in continuing to post in the same vein in the hope that eventually people will wake up.

Two individuals who do appear extremely concerned about the state of the British polity are Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP. Both are pigeon-holed as maverick Tories and they certainly belong to the libertarian wing of the party. I should mention that Dan is a very old friend (but not a relation) and so you can take what I have to say about his views with as much salt as you please.

Dan and Douglas have written a political pamphlet called The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain. Their diagnosis of the country’s problems is that too much power is in the hands of officials and judges who can behave however they like. There is too little power to the people. Their prescription, in large part based on an American model, is to devolve power downwards as close as possible to the general population. They advocate elected sheriffs to oversee policing, the right of parents to demand the resources used to educate their children be handed over for them to use as they please and withdrawal from the European Union.

Of the institutions I railed against in my previous post, only the Crown Prosecution Service would really be affected by their shake-up. Judges could continue to make up the law as they go along and the Home Secretary would still have the right to ban people her political chums didn’t like. That said, if Dan and Douglas’s reforms were implemented, we would certainly improve the current situation whereby almost all powers of serious note are held by anonymous bureaucrats on fat salaries who usually work in effective, if not official, secrecy.

Dan and Douglas would probably tell me that their reforms should also bring about a change in culture whereby empowered citizens demand a greater say in all areas. The most important cultural change, in my opinion, would be in journalism. Everyone assumes that the internet has opened up journalism, but there has also been a sinking to the lowest common denominator. Politic blogs are either run by the big media organisations or by semi-professional members of the commentariat. And they are all obsessed by trivia or political gossip. Big issues are practically ignored.

It was always the case that the internet would be colonised by the same outlets that existed in the dead-tree and broadcast media, but I had hoped it would not also lead to dumbing down. Sadly, I have been disabused.

But if you are interested in serious political thinking expressed with the clarity of first-class journalism, Dan and Douglas's book is an excellent and provoking read.

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Anonymous said...

James, if you are interested in commentators with similar viewpoints, read Cranmer, Peter Hitchens and Melanie Phillips - all good, anti-zeitgeist thinkers.

Humphrey said...

This guy in Colorado was pissed off with government interference so he built his own castle complete with flamethrower.

Planning permission can go hang!

Wes said...

I'm not British, but I can't help but wonder if the secularization of Britain (or any country?) is synonymous with a movement towards social apathy, despite atheist claims the contrary?

James said...

Thanks for the comments. I have my issues with Cramner, Hitchens and Phillips since I am essentially a liberal. However, the left are not covering themselves with glory of the civil liberties agenda.