12
May
09

On air: Do you admire British democracy?

WestminsterSorry this is late. I’ll expand in a while, but you want to talk about whether the expenses row in Britain (which is a really big deal here and has been running for days) is having an effect on how you view one of the world’s oldest democracies. Should Westminster still be held up an as example to the world of how to run a democracy?


71 Responses to “On air: Do you admire British democracy?”


  1. 1 Rob (UK)
    May 12, 2009 at 16:13

    Just because we Britons have one of the oldest democracies doesn’t mean it is also one of the best. I am embarrassed that we still have a house of lords whose members are not elected.

  2. 2 Tom K in Mpls
    May 12, 2009 at 16:32

    People are just doing whats allowed. Whats the big deal? If you Brits don’t like it, refine the rules. Obviously, in general, the system works. Just tweak it a bit to suit your needs. Now if you want a truly corrupt system, look to us Americans! Money buys anything, but you need to know how to keep it hidden or nobody will touch it. People say Mexico is corrupt, in most cases they are simply more open about it or just not as sophisticated in how they hide it when they do care.

  3. 3 Peter sc
    May 12, 2009 at 16:37

    The democracy did not prevent the financial crises or the unpopular invasion of Iraq etc . No time to list all.

  4. 4 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    May 12, 2009 at 16:38

    Scandals like this one are necessary to keep democracies from growing corrupt and complacent.

    This latest flap just makes me love British democracy all the more, and it proves what a great democracy you Brits have. Every political closet has dirty laundry stashed away. In Britain, the closet just got opened and will be cleaned out–right down to the smallest pair of dirty knickers.

    • 5 Sumedh Sharma from Nepal
      May 13, 2009 at 07:48

      the real thing is that demoicracy as such in britain in useful only when there is a free and alert press.In our country and probably most of south asia excluding India the press is threatened and even the selling and buying of the member of parliament go unnoticed.The primeminister is can be dismiussed through the parliament even without completing his term, which results to unstability.May be west minister model is working for Britain but not in Nepal where the parliament in about two decades has seen almost 18 governments.I think american democratic system is more appropiate world wide than the British

  5. 6 chris riley
    May 12, 2009 at 16:50

    Lets be clear:

    The figurehead of state is unelected and heads a national religion.

    There is an unelected second house.

    There is no Bill of Rights or written Constitution that provides a recourse for the ordinary citizen, so justice is limited at best.

    Sounds like the Democracy was started but remains unfinished. Has there been any real improvement in the UK since the Thatcher years? Is the country really thriving? Is the country’s foreign policy a product of the will of the people? Are the country’s foreign relations, especially with Europe a product of the will of the people? Is the education system benefiting the ordinary citizen as much as it should? Is there a strong productivity based economy where people can enjoy doing good work for a reasonable wage? Is there a balance to the dominance of capital?

    Is it government by and for the people or is everything in the hands of wealthy elites?

    Just asking ….

  6. 7 Bob in Queensland
    May 12, 2009 at 16:59

    Politicians are the same around the world and British ones are better than many and no worse than most. One good thing about British democracy is a “4th estate” that finds stories like this and keeps them something near honest.

  7. 8 Anthony
    May 12, 2009 at 17:03

    I like the U.K.’s Parlament, it’s better than our single president (I think that is the U.K. equivelent). I don’t know much about U.K. govt., but I feel a bunch of men is better than single men in the executive branch.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  8. 9 robert
    May 12, 2009 at 17:05

    I still admire British democracy. What I do not admire is those that are currently elected.

    • 10 Dennis Junior
      May 15, 2009 at 00:26

      Yes, I agreed with Robert’s point…About admiring the British Democracy…

      ~Dennis Junior~

  9. 11 deryck/trinidad
    May 12, 2009 at 17:07

    Yes, I do. I have seen worse examples of democracy. According to the British law system the MP’s did nothing wrong except to violate the spirit of the law and manipulate the loopholes in order to fund their lifestyle. The monies claimed for and gotten were for upkeep of a second residence so that an MP can properly do his job. Therefoe an suppose an MP needs horse manure in order put in his garden so that the garden flourishes. The flourishing garden delights him and now he has peace of mind and therefore he can perform his official duties better. Now, can you deny him that. I’m sure many an MP had even better reasons for their expenses. If no law was broken no legal action can be taken. What they did was reprehensible but the most that can be done is to review and modify the laws that govern these expenses so as to mitigate future violations.

  10. 12 mabewa
    May 12, 2009 at 17:13

    Well, we in Nigeria are still in the ‘dark-age’, pretending we’re in a democracy. If we can practice just 10% of british democracy, we will be better for it.

  11. May 12, 2009 at 17:15

    The House of Lords make no difference to Britain being a ‘great democracy’. Britain is a great democracy and you have to live elsewhere to understand that. I would go further and say that you have to live in the USA where they always consider themselves to be the greatest democracy ever. They are not. In that I was in the UK all my 58 years apart from five in Germany. I have been here in Florida for seven and a half years and have taken great interest and ‘written’ about what things I find different and ‘hard to bear’. Actually most do not affect me as a 66 year old semi retired in the sun.

  12. May 12, 2009 at 17:16

    Without a doubt, I admire British democracy.
    * It is the only democratic system that has evolved, rather than been designed, which makes it seem like it comes from the heart of the people, rather than the brain.
    * The fact that it is an evolving system means that it is an introspective system, continually needing to internally adapt, rather than just paying lip service to a written constitution.
    * It is as flawed as human nature itself, but it is responsive to its short-comings when they come up too short… and is even inventive in its solutions, something often failing in constitutional democracies.
    * Its politicians are treated like politicians, not unassailable royalty; note the Prime Minister’s Hour in Parliament.
    Human history would be much different, if the model of British democracy had gone missing from the last 800 years, and from my view, that history would have been for the worse.

  13. 15 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 12, 2009 at 17:39

    Overall I think our system is quite good. Sadly MPs make the rules about money to which they are entitled! That must change.

    Hopefully someone, somewhere, somehow will find out where the billions we pay into The European Union goes and into which pocket. That I would really like to know.

  14. 16 Dale
    May 12, 2009 at 17:48

    Those extreme cases of people getting thousands of pounds in benefit fraud are very rare. Anyone who had to claim any type of benefit payments in recent years, e.g. the disabled, elderly and families in poverty etc, felt fear, anxiety and condemnation as they were demonised and held up to scrutiny by means testing. The paperwork alone is a nightmare for people who have the need to claim benefits.

    I didn’t hear Stephen Fry saying “it’s all very bourgeois and tedious” about those awful adverts about benefit fraud:

    “We’re closing in”
    • With over 600 calls a day to our hotline
    • With over 3,000 fraud investigators
    • With over 200 benefit thieves reported online every day
    • By carrying out over 2,000 investigations every week
    • By cross-checking the bank accounts of benefit thieves
    • With hidden cameras and mobile surveillance
    • With every means at our disposal ”

    “It’s not really that important” Stephen Fry says about fiddling. He wasn’t saying that about people earning a couple of extra quid for basic living expenses.

    He talks as if we lack the knowledge to understand the nature of politians.

    • 17 Sue
      May 12, 2009 at 18:22

      The British Democracy is soooo much better than the two other countries I have had experience of. At least there is an honest voting system and polititians can be held responsible.

  15. 18 Roy, Washington DC
    May 12, 2009 at 18:06

    Every government has its pros and cons. One thing that sets British democracy apart from American democracy, though, is that the British version seems to give far less influence to money, and more to the people. Like Tom was saying, this can lead (in the American case) to a certain degree of corruption.

  16. 19 SUE
    May 12, 2009 at 18:08

    Just as Democracy has suffered in the US, so it has suffered in the UK. But there os more hope for democracy in a country that does not have a system where half of the people are always disenfranchised (the US), i.e., there is no parliamentary system. I’d rather have the UK’s, though of course voters make mistakes.

  17. 20 Elias Lostrom
    May 12, 2009 at 18:14

    Hey, our representatives should be looked after. That way they are less likely to become corrupt and rely on backhanders from lobbyists.

    They should also get pensions after serving.

  18. 21 John in Salem
    May 12, 2009 at 18:16

    Yes, absolutely. Democracy isn’t a perfect system, it’s a process, and what is happening right now is healthy AND essential. It shows that the system is functioning as it was intended.
    Keep up the good work!

  19. 22 Nate, Portland OR
    May 12, 2009 at 18:17

    I love watching the House of Lords on CSPAN. Much more fun than our staid “debates” in the US Congress. I wish Bush had had to face the same grilling Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown have to face. It would have been fun to watch him squirm, but it probably would have made him even more obstinate. I think Obama would do pretty well once he got some practice.

    I haven’t made up my mind if I prefer the parliamentary system for choosing the head of state, or our presidential system. I’m also a bit confused about the royal family’s role in Britain, but in practice it seems they mostly go to ribbon cutting ceremonies and such – which is pretty straightforward.

  20. 23 patti in Cape Coral
    May 12, 2009 at 18:17

    I don’t know a whole lot about British democracy, but I don’t think there is a perfect democracy anywhere. The fact that these shenanigans were found out speaks well for British society in general. If what I heard is true, the rules allowed these expenses to be written off, so those need to change. It is very disappointing however, that there seems to be no sense of personal ethics. Just because the rules allow you to do something, it doesn’t mean that in your heart you don’t know it’s wrong.

  21. 24 California Rob
    May 12, 2009 at 18:20

    We Yanks admire certain things about your democracy. You gave us the common law, Magna Carta and the presumption of innocence. But I have to agree with the blogger who observes your democracy is unfinished. An unwritten constitution, interpreted by a judiciary who can be overruled by the Law Lords, is inherently elitist, even oligarchical. And, despite the fact your current monarch served in WW2 and can fix a broken transmission (one of the things some of us Yanks admire her for), she’s . . . . a monarch. You have no First Amendment, and you have hereditary members of the House of Lords. Thus your democracy is less than it could be, You make bloody great historical miniseries though, no doubt about it. 🙂

  22. 25 David
    May 12, 2009 at 18:22

    British democracy, like all democracies, is delicately balanced. I do admire it.

    But, looking across the pond from the US I believe that we are forgetting that each of us has weight that upset or strengthen a democracy’s delicate balance.

    And that *continually choosing democracy* is necessary; setting it up is not sufficient.

    That there is a scandal on this when it isn’t illegal, is proof of our choosing to right the course when this is needed.

  23. 26 rgundapa
    May 12, 2009 at 18:22

    Well, being an Indian, British democracy always fascinates me. If there are any drawbacks, they can be sorted out if powerful leaders like Tony Blair keep emerging. However, the thing I don’t like about British democracy is its reliance on the royal family to keep Britain united.

  24. 27 ecotopian
    May 12, 2009 at 18:23

    I’m confused. How has this scandal undermined Britain’s democratic system? It looks to me as though it was greedy people milking a program. How has the democratic process been subverted? While you haven’t said this, it seems to be what is implied. Britain has lost some of its democratic ideals because of the abuse of this program. I’m sorry, I just don’t see that.

  25. 28 TC
    May 12, 2009 at 18:28

    Can the host please use a couple of sentence to illustrate the difference between the British democratic system with those of other ‘famous’ ones say US. Where does it stand out from the rest of them??

  26. 29 gary
    May 12, 2009 at 18:30

    Well, I certainly admire the British people. Look at your recently discovered scandal in this way: Democracy works properly once again. An abuse was exposed, the offenders are contrite, and no one was shot or tortured to death. It may be an annoyance to find folks abusing the system; but it must be astonishingly irritating to see it occur without a means to stop it.
    g

  27. 30 Jim Dodds
    May 12, 2009 at 18:34

    When I was young two thirds of world land mass was coloured pink on maps. In school we were tought that the British Empire was the best thing ever to happen and that British democracy was an example to the rest of the world. As we grew older some of us wondered why companies run from the City of London, eg, the British East India Company, had been awarded sole trading rites in parts of the British Empire or why a private company was permited to appoint governers in certain territories. It did help us to understand how a Rothschild could credibly say that he cared not what unelected figurehead sat on the British throne or what party was elected to parliament as long as he controlled the money supply, or words to that effect. So what’s new? International companies supply election funds to all parties in all ‘democratic’ countries with the exception of certain South American countries; if indeed they qualify to be called democratic. Britain, despite the wishes of the electorate, acts as America’s caddy where required and many thousands of people are killed. As British industries are exported to less expensive domiciles and the world aproaches water shortage and famine true democracy: government of the people, by the people, for the people is essential. At present your government needs to ask the City’s permission.

  28. May 12, 2009 at 18:37

    1. The UK seems to be becoming increasingly authoritarian.

    2. The UK parliament uses plurality voting and not a proportional representation method like MMP or STV. (As I understand it, N. Ireland and Scotland had proportional parliaments – correct me if I’m wrong).

  29. 32 Reggie B.
    May 12, 2009 at 18:43

    Having lived under the Presidential system (U.S.), and then under a Parliamentary government (Israel), I say the Parliamentary system is preferable – from point of view of a voter and from the point of view of a citizen. The multi-party system feels more representative and more responsive. And certainly democracy in general is preferable to most alternatives.

    As for the current scandal? Scandals happen in every system, and. every system has its abusers; in a democracy one can at least hope to find out about the abuses. If the income and perks of MPs was public information, they would be more careful.

  30. 33 Tom D Ford
    May 12, 2009 at 18:46

    Politicians almost always disappoint the people who elect them.

    Here in the US, after not even four months in office President Obama has already given up and caved in about changing health care.

    In a news report today, NPR listed the interests represented at the meeting about it and surprise, surprise, “We The People” were left out, as only the health care industries were represented.

    The health care industries that have been financially raping the American people are “volunteering” to financially rape them less.

    But they will be under no oversight, no enforcement, and no punishment.

    What a great disappointment, our democracy has been prevented from working for The People, once again, and by the President who promised Change when he got in office.

  31. 34 Venessa
    May 12, 2009 at 18:48

    There is corruption with all politicians. Some are just more willing to abuse their power more than others. Britain should be happy if the worst corruption they have is people milking too much money. I suspect that will be remedied in light of the current exposure.

  32. 35 SH
    May 12, 2009 at 18:56

    From Saint Vincent via USA

    If only we can open transparency and report on salaries, expenses etc. in the Caribbean, Africa, India, etc. The world will be a better place. We can more from kleptocracy to true democracy.

    How much billions of third world money now lie in foreign banks!

  33. 36 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    May 12, 2009 at 19:01

    Britons always lean towards concervatism and culture; that is the British democracy. The government like in many democracies though it is for the well connected. I sometimes thought the Brits were becoming lazy given the way they are welcoming mergers instead of protecting though the recent patriotic demonstrations on protecting British jobs for the the Britons lead me to think that there might be a disconect between the leaders and the citizens.
    Westminster will need an overhaul to reflect the changes otherwise the Poodle stories and mass of demonstrators that no one listens to does not speak much of modern democracy.
    However, the systme has served the country well though its glory is in the past and not the present. Stories of sleez, corruption and lofty terms like the ‘international community’ invoke only a sense of inertia in a leadership which should be leading the rest of the world by example.

  34. May 12, 2009 at 19:03

    MP’s were given the opportunity to claim the monies and they rightfully did and i do not see why this issue should be blwn out of proportion.

    Britain is a wonderfully democracy where we have the right to vote,freedom of speech etc.
    we are an ideal democracy and we should be proud of it.

  35. 38 Crispo
    May 12, 2009 at 19:10

    Yes, certainly British democracy is a step better, there is no denying. Here in Uganda greed and the desire to enrich oneself is what politicians consider democracy. We intimidate voters, rig elections, change the constitution, enrich ourselves and bellow out loud that we are ‘democratic’.
    Politicians here never apologise when on the wrong; I bet they can’t spell the word ‘sorry’.
    If only we had an iota of British democracy, maybe we could be far or just a little a bit fairer.

    Crispo, Uganda.

  36. 39 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    May 12, 2009 at 19:10

    Don’t tell me about corruption. I am a Kenyan and I know too well how this issue hurts. However I would like to know whether it was this time only because it must have some long or short history.

  37. May 12, 2009 at 19:21

    The expenses scandal can happen with any system. The question is how easy is it to find out about misuse of funds, and how easy is it to get rid of politicians or parties who are guilty of misuse of funds. So you want a strong Official Information Act (or whatever) at the very least. NZ’s isn’t bad, much better than Australia for example, but I don’t know how it compares with the UK’s. You also want to it easy for the public to punish a politician or a party that misuses funds. For this, an open list MMP system would be adequate I think.

    Is there any reason by the way why a parliament couldn’t publish on a website all expenses as they are requested by individual MPs?

  38. May 12, 2009 at 19:29

    I do admire the Brits and their government. I admire the monarchy, and how so many citizens feel about not only paying for it, but respecting it. How the world perceives your country is important, and personally, I admire the Queen more than I admire The Pope. The Queen seems to be able to grasp chnges in her country’s culture and needs, while the Pope is only interested in creating more little poor Catholics. I even feel that the House of Lords serves the useful purpose of continuity. I wish our Senate had a ten year term of election, instead of a six year.

  39. 42 Kwami
    May 12, 2009 at 19:38

    A similar outcry was in Ghana early this year when MP’s ex-gratia award made public but was met with public outrage. I wish you had a Ghanaian parliamentarian to interview

  40. 43 Docb
    May 12, 2009 at 19:48

    Democracy in all forms is messy! However, in all forms better than the alternatives!

  41. 44 Hera
    May 12, 2009 at 20:08

    There are no real democracies in the world, only countries that call themselves so. Britain is no exception. It is an illusion of a democracy. How on earth can people fully participate and care about the place they live in, if we have such massive state entities? Democracy is a nice idea, but I think that MPs’ expenses is but a small sign, a mere symptom showing that so-called democracy doesn’t work. If you want to question democracy, you would have to dig a lot deeper in people’s engrained beliefs, rather than name-calling on who claimed expenses for a 50p yoghurt. That is irrelevant. What is relevant, is why there are people who still believe that western countries are democratic and that there is no better model and that this is the “best we can do”….

  42. 45 Michel Norman
    May 12, 2009 at 20:42

    On the expenses row – why not just buy up a hotel, give them each a room and save on the expenses?

    The beauty of the british system is that if your MP has built a moat around his house, paid his brother to be his cleaner or spent more on cleaning rugs than you spend on a month’s shopping you can actually get rid of him, vote him out. Under proportional representation you would be given a list and he would be appointed to it by party functionaries.

  43. 46 w.stevenson
    May 12, 2009 at 22:22

    There has to be police and INLAND REVENUE called in and people punished,and after that the sack . the guilty parties drummed out with no holiday pay or GOLDEN handshakes. these things dont apply in cases grand theft .THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY HAVE TO BE SHOWN THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Nothing less will do. Thay must think we are idiots.

  44. 47 GEORGE LATO
    May 12, 2009 at 22:48

    British democracy is great! and so are the French, the Italian, the German versions etc. But it is all an illusion! Slowly but surely the real power comes from Brussels and local parliaments can only toe the line. In turn, those elected to Brussels are basically there for the fun of it and happily pass on more and more power to the unelected bureaucrats who in turn keep erecting more convoluted structures which no one understands!!

    In the meantime, whilst everyone is busy playing games, no one has been watching _ and the whole of Europe can be plunged into darkness and the whole place will come to a halt overnight at the drop of a hat because Europe’s main energy supplies are controlled by Russia. Now that is very clever chess!!

  45. May 12, 2009 at 23:03

    The Magna Carta is no substitute for a real constitution.

  46. 49 John
    May 13, 2009 at 00:37

    I can’t say I am that knowledgeable of the British governing system. But if it is such a great democracy why does Britain have such a strong class system– more so than many western European societies.

    And why is a large percentage of the British “baby boomer” working class worried how they are going to make ends meet in retirement.

    I think the brainwashing of the British masses as to the superiority of the titled class and their obligatory worship of the unelected figurehead royal family with their concentration of wealth secures this mindset and perpetuates the class system. So I don’t see Britain as a shining example of an egalitarian democracy.

    I am equally critical of the American democracy, but for somewhat different reasons. The US democracy would be more egalitarian except for a major oversight of the founding fathers in establishing the our government. This oversight and critical flaw is the corrupting force of money in campaign financing and paid lobbyists. All campaign financing should be paid for with government funds and paid lobbyists should

  47. 50 Mark Griev es
    May 13, 2009 at 03:23

    I am English but resident in Singapore.

    I am appalled by the sheer affrontery of the politicians ALL attempting to blame a flawed system or process to excuse their personal lack of integrity or basic greed.
    Hazel Blears’ weak attempt to justify her almost illegal actions of avoiding paying CGT on the sale of her several “second homes” was the most cringe-making listening I have experienced in a long-time.

    As a former army officer and a current banker I haved always maintained the “red faced” test. Irrespective of what the particular process says – if you can not explain your actions in public, without getting a red-face, then theexpense claim is suspect.

    Lots of red faces at the moment !!!

  48. 51 Jordan Klein
    May 13, 2009 at 05:11

    The fundamental problem of governement of any form is that it requires coordination between human beings which, despite the rhetoric, are essentially self-interested. Thus i am not surprised by this expenses scandal, nor do i consider it an indictment of British democracy…these things happen. The fact that this was all brought to light via the virtue of free speech is a testament to the merits of democracy. Incidents such as this are all the more prevelant in communist countries, the difference being that the population would never hear about it due to censorship. The situation regarding parent’s concerns about school collapses in China attests to this.

  49. May 13, 2009 at 05:53

    I do not admire British democracy. The Magna Carta is no substitute for a real constitution as we have in America.

    • 53 Jordan Klein
      May 13, 2009 at 10:45

      Surely you must be joking…electroral fraud gave the world the Bush administration which Cheney and Rumsfeld used to further their own interests. Your constitution also produced segregation, the aftermarth of which America is still trying to rectify, despite electing an African American president.

      J. Edgar Hoover used the FBI like his own personal police force and nobody had the courage to divulge this until his death due to fear of his secret files. The constitution you mention, which contains the words “all men created equal” was penned by a man who had hundreds of slaves! The Mcarthy hearings, Watergate the list goes on. At best American democracy is as bad as democracy everywhere else, at worst its a farce.

  50. 54 shanel
    May 13, 2009 at 06:45

    If it`s anything like Australian democracy it`s just hollow rhetoric!

  51. 55 Alex (Barcelona, Spain)
    May 13, 2009 at 08:31

    As an Englishman I would comment that British democracy seems to have been much admired in the past, but in more recent times the complacency and apathy of the elecorate has severely compromised its quality.

    None of the above have commented on the sustained assault that has been waged on privacy and civil liberties, to the degree that no other advanced democracy would even contemplate, nor their electorate tolerate. Surely the politicians should be held to account more and not just allowed to curtail another liberty just to show they have done something, that in the end is ineffective??

    Go to the UK, check out the extreme to which you are being watched by CCTV cameras and get a feel for how draconian the state´s relationship is with the people. Maybe you will change your minds about UK democracy…

  52. May 13, 2009 at 10:26

    What Democracy? In Britain freedom is what the Government has not placed a restraint on or has failed to enforce for want of will or resources. It is not a privelege that accrues by any positive act of the Parliament. Hence, freedom is what one can get away with without being caught and censored. Just like the way Members of Parliament freely help themselves to taxpayers’ money until they are caught.

    Having surrendered much of its legislative and judicial powers to the EU and foreign policy decisions to Washington, Britain is neither a sovereign state nor is it a real democracy.

  53. 57 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    May 13, 2009 at 10:28

    The most important attribute of a democracy is access to information and I think the British have got that in abundance. The custodians of that democracy – your elected politicians – have, like politicians everywhere, the tendency to be corrupt. The difference between a corrupt politician in Britain and a similarly corrupt politician in a less democratic country is that you have a self-correcting system. They have been caught and they will have to pay (in cash or in ballots). In other places the news reporter would be languishing in jail for crimes against the state or something.
    The real problem is that Brown and company have lost their right to preach about transparency in other places, and that is a real tragedy.

  54. 58 hild monika
    May 13, 2009 at 12:06

    JUst for you – whoever you are – Germany’s fascist history is a lesson NOT to be repeated !!
    So – just to think about – censorship by the BBC is very disappointing – and characteristic NOT for democracy – SHAME ON YOU

  55. 59 peter
    May 13, 2009 at 12:53

    I do appreciate British Democracy on relative terms. But i cannot understand as to how the British government could be a silent spectator to other Countries, who call themselves democracies, to go on KILLING SPREE of not only its minorities but also the journalists.eg.Sri Lanka

  56. May 13, 2009 at 13:54

    Britain is still the best example of how it should be. These are not large issues and quickly come to light. This is not a Profumo/Spitzer type matter. The poster about the cost of Royalty has it wrong. Firstly it is not like she is going to do a ‘runner’ with it all? It is ours? Windsor? Balmoral? They are ours? What amounts she might draw are paid back threefold in tourism and that lady works hard. She has done ever since the day I saw her crowned after sleeping on the sidewalk in 53. I served her nine years also and was picked from 50 driver experts to drive for her. All in Buck House is our ‘heritage’. She is not going anywhere unlike the Pres does with her bling?

  57. 61 Donald Telfer
    May 13, 2009 at 14:19

    Three or four things.
    1. It has been claimed before that it is not a good system but it is better than the alternatives. (Churchill I think, perhaps no recommendation.)
    2. I would argue that what you have in England is a representative “democracy” with a Westminster parliamentary architecture.
    3. I would further argue that the representative component means it is not a democracy, but a democracy twice removed (once via representation and then further, second, by the party system).
    4. I am not sure, but I think the prototype for democracies was one or other of the Greek city states, such as Athens, where anyone so inclined could speak directly to the lawmakers, with no representative intermediary (or worse political party) intermediating in the process.

    I recognise that we do not have city states any more, with the possible exceptions of the Vatican and Singapore.

  58. 62 CarlosK
    May 13, 2009 at 14:48

    Good day WHYSayers,

    Do I admire British democracy? Yes to a great extend. But I don’t like the monarchist part of it though. The world does not need King/Queen aside from King Jesus. And I thing worshipping the queen as the british do is very mentally unsettling. This practice must breed inferiority complexes.

    But as it relates to politicians, I like the fact that the media, the 4th Estate, works remarkable well! And poliiticans actually resign when they are caught with their “pants down”.

    Elsewhere in the world and I speak specifically about Jamaica, it is only once in a very “blue moon” that a guilty politician resigns. These guys over here laud it over the people. You should get a hold of our local papers, our Prime Minister is presently travelling on the road towards dictatorship and the media isn’t even aware of it, its not being reported.

    So in summary, it is as natural for politicians to behave corruptly as its for the sun to rise in the morning but the British democracy actually catch the cheats and that is what makes it works so well. If only this feature of the British democracy could be replicated world over and this world would be a better place.

    Carlos, Kingston- Jamaica.

  59. 63 Jim Newman
    May 13, 2009 at 17:11

    Hello again
    Just come in out of the rain. To answer the question NO!
    The reason I say that is that the when a project for a law is put forward or the governement decides on a certain action there is no mechanisme by which the people can oppose it. It is not good enough for the governement to say ‘we were elected to govern by the people so they can shut up until the next election’.
    Elected governements have a tendancy to become dictatorial juntas in a very short space of time.
    The only way, in my view, to avoid this unfortunate developement is for the people to have their say through binding rereferenda. Not, of course, referenda when the governement decides but when enough people decide.
    For Britain I would say that 400000 signatures should be enough to warrant a referendum.
    Don’t say that it would be too expensive, because it’s very expensive to send troops to a foreign country because some crappy prime minister decides that he owes his allegiance to a foreign power.
    For me a binding referendum is the back bone, the main pillar of any democratic political system.
    Jim

  60. 64 Jim Newman
    May 13, 2009 at 18:03

    Hello again
    Another pillar of democracy is a written constitution that is written for the people, by the people and with the consent of the people. This should be the ground law to which all other laws and the judiciary are subservient. In a democracy there is no place for royalty or a class of people who lord it over everyone else, or have special advantages.
    The way information is conveyed to the people should be in the hands of a committee and not in the hands of vested interrests.
    At the moment people are more manipulated than informed.
    To finish I would like to say that Britain has a political system that is democratic in name but not in essence.
    In a recent interview Danielle Mitterand was asked if democracy exists anywhere in the world and she answered no.
    I think she got it right but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying.
    Jim

  61. May 13, 2009 at 19:16

    Yes i do admire British Democracy and also the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany which recognized as a model of Democracy and others probably. But in the light of recent readings by modern philosophers i am driven to think that both and many others have become obsolete in the course of the last century or so. I am thinking of the recent work by the french philosopher
    Jean-Claude Michéa. In the Democracy of the most advanced lands professional politicians have become a new kind of aristocracy who become elected again and again and except for the in general short electoral periods stand apart in an ivory tower and totally out of reach of the people and as long as their mandate lasts the people has no say in the affairs of the land.
    Government of the people by the people …etc not actual.
    Street demonstrations are rarely peaceful. They have to be dealt with.
    Not very democratic a show to be watched.
    Various solutions are suggested. Wait and see and dream…….
    But Life is short……

  62. 66 primal convoy in Japan
    May 14, 2009 at 01:11

    I have to say that, although it has its faults, I feel that the UK’s democratic system is a lot better than many others.

    1/ It has fairer equality rules concerning religious expression than Frances.
    2/ It seems more free than the USA’s.
    3/ It has a heck of a lot more human rights laws than Japan’s (where I live)
    4/ It is easier for immigrants to join it and thus vote in it.

  63. May 15, 2009 at 13:36

    In Great Britain, everyone has a right to an opinion. In America, only the Republicans and Democrats have that right.

  64. 68 Mark West
    May 15, 2009 at 18:56

    So what is british democracy? Only 60% of the electroate vote, and only 40% of those that do vote for the winning party. Because of our first past the post system only a third of the voting population, or a quarter of the population in general, ever has the mandate. Can you seriously have a mandate to govern with the support of 25% of the population?!

    What is the point in voting Tory in Sunderland – Labour always have a massive landslide. The same can be said for Labour in Maidenhead or Windsor. Democracy dies the minute you cast your vote!

  65. 69 hadi ahmadzadeh
    May 18, 2009 at 16:05

    STEALING has nothing to do with democracy.it’s shameful how, in these times of crisis, politician’s main objective is to steal tax payers money.if these were ordinary civilians,they would’ve been tried and sent to prison.this proves once more the “do as i say, not as i do” theory.taxes are paid to ensure well being of the people, but when we look at issues like healthcare, education, etc…, it seems that these issues do not take centre stage.Democracy is a good thing, but it has to be a democracy.the system, the way it works, has all the syptomes of a failed state.
    when confidance in the politicians is lost and they do not ensure the well being of their people, can we really say that we live in a democracy?
    there’s no difference with failed states, where politicians do what they want, and the people suffer…
    We must ALL stand together in boycotting taxes, electoral systems as they stand, and DEMAND ABSOLUTE transparancy from our politicians…it’s only fair

  66. May 18, 2009 at 17:26

    Yes I do admire British democracy, as to the scandal of the politicians with regard to milking funds for expences which they are not entitled to claiming, this has been going on for years not only in parliament but in businesses and many other industries. The fact that politicians have been doing it is not acceptable in upholding the high office of governing the country. How can the public have faith in the very people they rely on to look after their interests when they are corrupt themselves.

  67. 71 Andy
    May 18, 2009 at 18:36

    Not really. An elected head of state would be nice for a change. Also despite it’s inconveniences I am more for direct democracy. That way it would be next to impossible in many cases for politicians to misrepresent the public by accepting bribes in order to pass certain laws e.t.c. plus the public wouldn’t be forced to decide between the lesser of several evils in the case of general elections whereby they may disagree with certain policies of their preferred party, and could rather decide policies on a case by case basic in multi-law referenda with individual boxes representing each suggested law change. Hence there would be no such thing as an unpopular law, for better or worse this would be the only true democracy.


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