Friday, October 21, 2011
Vital Ways in Which Democracy is Being Weakened and Lobbyists let in.
Some columnists are able to do that thing which Orwell said is the most difficult of all: to see what is happening in front of your nose. Simon Jenkins is possibly one of these rare people, or at least seems to be in his piece today.
He is not too impressed by the street protests against capitalism in London and New York, seeing them as unfocused and without the 'menace' which protests need to get any change started. This is as maybe but he goes on to adduce a rather chilling argument that, important respects, democracy has withered away. This applies especially to those bodies which 'mediate' between government and the governed between elections. The "customary associations and little platoons" have dwindled. Power over policy has been removed from parties in parliament and at the grassroots, from trade unions, from the professions, from local government, from intellectuals, even from the formal civil service. These conduits have been replaced by thinktanks and lobbyists working in private collusion with ministerial staffs. When David Cameron in opposition said that lobbyists were "the next big scandal waiting to happen," he was right. But that was before he came to power.
This observation I fear is true to a fair degree. I'm not sure lobbyists have yet claimed a hegemony over policy making; yet we see in the case of Liam Fox, that his best friend, who followed him around endlessly, was effectively a creature of the lobbyists. Furthermore the recent changes in the planning laws seem to represent a surrender to building lobbyists, always close to the Conservative Party. His analysis is an acute and well informed one and merits close attention.
BTW, I fully agree Blair-Brown are equally culpable with others in the political class for what has happened.
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