måndag 20 december 2010

The corruption of British democracy

For sheer awfulness, the present British government surpasses even the previous one. They give the impression that they are driven by the prevailing anarcho-capitalist ideology, whilst at the same time not knowing what they are doing.

Democracy in Britain is failing to deliver the sort of government that people want. Or perhaps, on the other hand, it is a precise reflection of the British people and their attitudes. If it is not, why, I ask myself, would newspapers like the Daily Mail sell more than a handful of copies. I regularly come across people parroting the views expressed by its journalists, which suggests that they are catching and shaping a widespread popular mood. Which is even more worrying. In the meantime, a generation of young people is becoming radicalised - something that has not happened since the 1960s. There will be blood on the streets next year.

Underlying these movements is the same issue that Plato talked about in the Republic. The first qualification for being a political leader is not wanting the job. And so pretty well all politicians are unsuitable from the outset. The corruption of democracy runs deep. Politicians are too easily tempted by offers of lucrative non-executive directorships on retirement, in exchange for favours whilst in office. The system is fool proof, since the corrupting interest groups are obliged to deliver if future politicians are to be drawn in.

What might be done? Perhaps, on retirement, members of parliament should be obliged to live under some kind of house arrest on a modest pension and be forbidden to communicate with the outside world beyond their immediate families. That would certainly discourage the chances and others on the make who hanker after the levers of power. But these turkeys are not going to vote for Christmas.

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