The Null Device

UK democracy in crisis?

The Demos thinktank in the UK claims that democracy is facing a crisis of legitimacy, with the public losing faith in the trustworthiness of leaders and the integrity of the political process. This appears to be result of the Blair Doctrine, which holds that in the short term, honesty is a liability and a mastery of weasel words and spin, a good relationship with the press and a faith in the public's short attention span are what counts.

It probably also has to do with the disconnexion between the polite fiction of democratic accountability and the reality of where the power really rests. For example, it's likely that Blair had no choice but to do whatever Washington ordered as far as Iraq went (as Britain has surrendered most foreign-policy sovereignty to the US since World War 2, though maintains the illusion of being an autonomous world power, even having a nuclear arsenal of its own (operated by US technicians)), and to spin it increasingly tortuously into the context of an independent decision, with increasingly bizarre results.

Anyway, the article claims that the main parties have become obsessed with a "strong leader myth", and that the solution is to recast democracy to the neighbourhood level. It is reported that Downing Street has been listening, and is "experimenting with new more direct forms of consultation with the electorate", "experimenting with" presumably translating as "looking at ways to rig".

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have their own crisis with claims that Charles Kennedy has adopted his own version of the Blair Doctrine and put the party too much under the influence of campaign strategists.

There are 3 comments on "UK democracy in crisis?":

Posted by: memphet http:// Wed Jun 1 18:09:33 2005

perhaps now, it'll only be a matter of time until all governments are dissolved.. heh.

Posted by: steff Thu Jun 2 03:41:21 2005

I'm no fan of Blair, but I think Blair's political flaws are only another symptom. Democratic participation prolly became "emptied" of meaning sometime after 1970. By the 80s it was totally eroded by "opinion engineering" a la Murdoch. IMO.

Posted by: Loki Carbis Thu Jun 2 13:53:01 2005

I often suspected that Britain's general antagonism towards the EU is largely a result of that being about the only forum left where they still have any real power.

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