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We wrote this grump some time ago, but in view of the forthcoming farce sorry, election it seemed pertinent to bring it back to the top again.

"When governments fear the people there is liberty.
When the people fear government there is tyranny"
- Thomas Jefferson


"By a very conservative estimate, a hundred million people
have died at the hands of their own governments in this century.
Given that record, how bad could anarchy be?"
- Joseph Sobran

Two of the words most often bandied about these days are "freedom" and "democracy". George Bush in particular uses them as a kind of magic mantra to justify almost any despicable action (hands up all those who know which is the only country ever to have been condemned by the United Nations for terrorist acts? Yes, that's right - the U.S.).
Let's think for a moment about "democracy". The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English (1982) describes it as "Government in which all adult citizens share through their elected representatives; government which encourages and allows rights of citizenship such as freedom of speech, religion, opinion and association, the assertion of the rule of law, majority rule" (my underlining) "..... accompanied by respect for the rights of minorities; treatment of each other by citizens as equals and with absence of class feeling".
Here are the vote shares of the three main parties in the UK at all General Elections since World War II:
1945: Labour 47.8% Conservative 39.8% Liberal 9%
1950: Labour 46.1% Conservative 43.5% Liberal 9.1%
1951: Conservative 48% Labour 48.8% Liberal 2.5%
1955: Conservative 49.7% Labour 46.4% Liberal 2.7%
1959: Conservative 49.4% Labour 43.8% Liberal 5.9%
1964: Labour 44.1% Conservative 43.4% Liberal 11.1%
1966: Labour 47.9% Conservative 41.9% Liberal 8.5%
1970: Conservative 46.4% Labour 43% Liberal 7.5%
1974: Labour 37.9% Conservative 37.1% Liberal 19.3%
1974: Labour 39.2% Conservative 35.8% Liberal 18.3%
1979: Conservative 43.9% Labour 36.9% Liberal 13.8%
1983: Conservative 42.4% Labour 27.6% Alliance 25.4%
1987: Conservative 42.2% Labour 30.8% Alliance 22.6%
1992: Conservative 41.9% Labour 34.4% Liberal Democrat 17.8%
1997: Labour 43.2% Conservative 30.7% Liberal Democrat 16.8%
2001: Labour 40.7% Conservative 31.7% Liberal Democrat 18.3 %
Notice that in 1951 the Tories were able to form the government despite polling fewer votes than Labour. In fact, for the last 60 years we have not had a single government that enjoyed the support of even half the voters. Not exactly majority rule, then? By 1999 in the Reith Lectures Anthony Giddens had to come up with a rather different definition: "I shall mean by it the following: democracy is a system involving effective competition between political parties for positions of power. In a democracy, there are regular and fair elections, in which all members of the population may take part". Sensible man - that's a pretty fair assessment of the system we have. But does it produce the results we want?
It does not.
At any given time in the last 60 years, the majority of the electorate have voted against the party that actually came to power. Our system ensures that the electorate is powerless. We are at all times ruled by people we don't want to be ruled by.
That's not my idea of a democracy.

"Throughout our history, governments both large and small - autocratic, democratic, and totalitarian - have tried to shape destiny ... to change people's lives. But in the end we, the people, invariably manage to change government instead." - Billy Tauzin, "The National Retail Sales Tax"
Yeah, you wish.



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