Tag Archives: Elections

Democracy: UK v Brussels

There has been comment about the possible adverse effects of the closeness of the British Referendum on 23rd June and UK local and regional elections which happened yesterday (5th May). Nothing could be further from the point in my book, as already it is illustrating the stark difference between these two political processes.

Here in the UK we have all media a buzz with information as to what is happening and the current state of play on how the individual parties are faring. This will continue right up to and after the results of our voting have been announced over the next 24 hours.

What is evidence of a proper democracy at work is that, whilst there can be media bias, we are voting on the political beliefs of the various parties. If we don’t like what a party is advocating, we don’t vote for them and the majority view prevails . . . That is the majority view of the people!

It isn’t perfect but we all feel a sense of involvement, rather than exclusion. Even for those who do not exercise their right to vote. We may not like particular parties, or leaders and if we feel strongly enough about it we remove them. Or rather, the party removes them based open market research which shows they are affecting party popularity.

With the process of putting people in power, respect is everything. We put them in power based upon what they tell us they will do to improve our lives. Trust is an essential facet of democracy and in spite of that trust currently being at its lowest ebb with politicians around the world, we still feel we have the power to make change when things are going badly wrong in the management of our country.

When we then turn to the upcoming Referendum about how the EU is managed all of what I have just said goes right out of the window. The democratic process I have known all of my life, as a ‘British’ subject, simply does not exist within the current Brussels led European Union when I put my ‘European’ hat on.

The people who actually run Brussels are not elected by the people and neither are they accountable to the people. In spite of growing unpopularity they are no signs of change. This to my mind is the first of many abuses perpetrated by the current set up, particularly when it is the people who pay for it all, including the salaries of these unelected representatives.

Yet those same representatives feel no responsibility towards the very source of their personal incomes and the vast budgets they decide how to spend. They don’t meet with us, talk to us or seek our opinion.

During the week of the first of these two decision making processes we have been rocked by two incredible revelations. The first was the leaking of the extent of the infamous TTIP trade deals and how our democracy was being handed over to global American corporations. The second was by one of the EU’s founder members, who stated that the whole purpose behind the merging of European countries was to create a “state resembling the US”.

Since 1952, when the cabinet was set up as the first step towards a federation of Europe, the public at large have been consistently lied to. Firstly, we were told we were joining a “Common Market”, followed up by a makeover to the “European Economic Community”, finally being led to its intended purpose when the Maastricht Treaty established the “European Union”.

The EU has evolved to its present power structure through a series of secrets and lies to the people, whilst taking their tax money to fund it all. And with the co-operation of the now 28 heads of State who were obviously complicit, as they have been with the secret TTIP negotiations.

It is worth looking at the mind-set of the most powerful person in Brussels, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to better understand this constant duplicity. (After his appointment in 2014 there was a huge surge in support for Eurosceptic parties.)

He presides over an unelected body that has been negotiating the TTIP agreement for 8 years. It was this man who originally called for such an agreement in the first place, as he has also been calling for a European army.

Unlike democracy in the UK, neither of these huge policy decisions have been proffered to the people to have their say, or on which they could vote him in or out of office. Indeed, his office slapped a 30-year ban on the publication of any details of the trade agreement back in 2013, a stinging rebuke for the democratic process.

Here we have a man, described as a ‘federalist’, who has little respect for the democratic process, if his published quotations are anything to go by and I quote:

On French referendum over EU constitution

“If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’,”

On British calls for a referendum over Lisbon Treaty

“Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”

On Eurozone economic policy and democracy

“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it”

On Greece’s economic meltdown in 2011

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.

It could be construed from these pearls of wisdom that he is either a very honest man, a very arrogant man or a bit of both but certainly with an overriding contempt for the electorate at large . . . All 500 million of them. To my mind he sees himself as “the boss” and his attitude permeates throughout Brussels, in the same way the thinking of the head person in any group affects the other members of that group.

Is it any wonder therefore that there is growing unrest within Europe and cries for “British style Referendums”? This is evidenced by a recent comment from a senior Brussels insider who is quoted as saying: Many people have lost trust in “entire institutions, whether national or European,” laments European Parliament Chief Martin Schulz.

The Referendum itself is a travesty of democracy, as is now blatantly obvious when compared with what is going on in the UK right now. We are voting about the policies of our elected representatives, something not presently available with Brussels.

Here, we are being told from the quotations above, that what they say goes and our only vote is whether we remain or exit. Do they really believe that they know what is in our best interests, or indeed care? Where is the acceptance of human fallibility and therefore the need for accountability that can only come from a robust democracy?

Well Mr Juncker and friends, if that is the deal I’ll stick with my countries version of democracy, where we can vote for regime change. If you won’t allow that you must take the consequences, which are now about as secret as your trade negotiations . . . and intentions for a federal Europe!

Have a sunny weekend all

Until the next time.

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

23rd June 2016: ‘OUT’ . . . and ‘IN’! (2 of 3)

EU TWEET 2

Reference to ‘Brussels’ is directed at the resident political establishment and not the people of Brussels, who are dealing with so much at the moment, to whom I extend my deepest sympathies and support. J T Coombes

In Part 1 I traced the development of Brussels to its present all powerful position in Europe, as part of the growing financial might of neoliberalism.

During the last 70 years, through the democratic process, Brussels has gained its power and is now using that power to dismantle that very same democratic process, contravening its very essence – “The involvement and will of the people”.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – 1st Baron of Acton

Whilst neoliberalism is increasing its hold upon a global Society I will keep my focus on Brussels with the following examples of what I can only describe as ‘Crimes against Democracy’:

Debt and Austerity – Greece is by far the most unpleasant example of how abusive these two financial tools have been allowed to become.

When we overextend ourselves financially it is prudent to cut back until the books are balanced. ‘Austerity’ was introduced and is not only ‘cutting our cloth’ but selling off valuable state assets at discount prices to pay down debt and benefit the already rich. We should be looking to get the highest price for those assets, not the lowest!

It is here we see the iron fist in the iron glove, as the Troika – the ECB, Brussels and the IMF – brought Greece to its knees by piling yet more debt upon the Greek people specifically to meet the interest payments on the corrupt loans originally foisted upon them.

The Greeks threw out the offending government and elected a new one, intent upon resolving the countries problems. The Troika simply ignored this democratic process and inflicted unelected technocrats upon the people to override the power of their recently elected government.

Who could argue that these actions are not Crimes against Democracy and something practiced on other member states?

TTIP – After its global success in gaining a financial grip upon Society with the ‘taxpayer heist’ of 2008 (itself a Crime against Democracy), neoliberalism immediately sought to consolidate its position politically with odious trade agreements. Eight years later, secret discussions, that have been going on between the US and Brussels to install these agreements, have only now come to light through the moral integrity of whistle-blowers.

Public outrage across Europe is evidenced by regular (large) demonstrations in major towns and cities, as well as the largest petition in history with over 3 million signatures and growing.

With the years of secrecy, designed to hide the intention to allow corporations to sue elected governments for any legislation that might harm profits, along with ignoring vast public outrage, this certainly ranks as a heinous Crime against Democracy.

Technocrats – Unelected and unaccountable representatives who, in spite of holding immense sway over European Society, are not responsible to nor can be removed by the electorate. Italy had technocrats imposed upon them by the Troika in 2011 and the unelected government lasted until 2013 when it ran out of steam, as technocracies always do. Italy’s economy (the 4th largest in the world), now looks more like Greece’s (the 44th largest!).

There are parallels here with the EU, which has been created by technocrats with the occasional intervention of democratically elected politicians. On rare occasions their work is exposed to the test of public opinion, by way of referendum or election and it is then that they receive a rude awakening.

Technocrats cannot live within a democracy, as is now being demonstrated by the British referendum. The message is “We’re not changing, so leave or stay”. This demonstrates another unworkable Crime against Democracy.

Immigration – Since the problems that began in Calais in the early 1990’s endless meetings and summits have not found a solution to aiding these desperate people, so much so that it is now “pushing Europe to breaking point”, the Dutch prime minister is quoted as saying. This suggests that the Schengen agreement on free movement of people, a foundation stone of the EU, is close to collapse.

The demands from Brussels that member countries take specific quotas irrespective of whether each country is capable, or suitably prepared for the proper and responsible integration of so many strangers into their Society, is simply being ignored.

It is the foreign policy of US, UK and France in particular that has created the problem and this dominant thinking (which influences EU policy) is incapable of therefore solving it. Unless and until this autocratic thinking changes, to garner the willing support of the people of Europe, this type of authoritarianism constitutes yet another Crime against Democracy

European Central Bank – As this bureaucracy plunges the Eurozone into negative interest rates it demonstrates a level of panic that lacks all credibility. The technocrats here are blindly following a Japanese model that has panicked banks and the people into hiding their cash to such an extent that it has now become impossible to buy a security safe anywhere, whilst doing nothing to remedy the country’s financial problems!

With this in mind, an unofficial war against cash is now being waged to make us spend rather than save. Brussels is already looking to decommission the €500 note “in the interests of fighting crime”. (Crime has been around since we lived in caves . . . So why did they introduce this large denomination in the first place?!!) With that precedent created the smaller denominations will follow!

If their war on cash succeeds they will have total control over how we use our money, (possibly the object of this entire exercise), representing a serious financial Crime against Democracy.

Just these five abuses would, I suggest, demonstrate how undemocratic Brussels has become in its arrogant use of power. I am convinced these tactics are constantly testing their power to gauge what they can get away with, in the same manner that the banks successfully did with “Too Big to Fail” in 2008.

In the third and final part I offer my worries that these Crimes against Democracy will not decrease but in fact become the norm, if Brussels is allowed to continue running the EU into the future, because of an increasingly restricted democratic process.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes