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Declining Democracy

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Total membership of political parties in the UK has declined, very steadily and inexorably, from about 3.3 million in 1968 to about 500,000 in 2010. That is even worse than it sounds because of course the population grew substantially in the same period. That is one of the fascinating facts in this report by Democratic Audit.

That is just one of a large number of PDFs that comprise the total report. It is well worth reading and it reinforces the argument, consistently made on this blog, that democracy has failed in this country.

There is one constituent of a genuine democracy that the report does not seek to measure, but which I think could usefully be quantified by political scientists. That is the degree of real choice being offered by the political parties. I am sure that this has very substantially declined as well. There is no real choice on offer nowadays between the various neo-con parties. The differences on the timing and depth of cuts in public services, on continued privatisation of health services, on Trident nuclear weapons, on Afghanistan, on the money men who control the politicians, are miniscule. Only in Scotland do voters have a genuine choice of a different direction, and they take it.

This is a direct consequence of the other trends the Democratic Audit does measure. They show that the parties are more than ever, and constantly more, not avenues for popular participation but the domain of a political class and controlled by a wealthy “elite”. It is no wonder that they all have the same programme of promoting the interests of that elite.

One Response to Declining Democracy

  1. etominusipi July 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    one of those delightful expressions that probably emerged from the Hollywood/MadisonAvenue combo is:

    the human jungle

    the elephant in the room of the human jungle is?


    the wise creature looks after the trees. even though it may have its god-given predatory necessities, best not mentioned in polite company, to look after the trees is the surest way of repaying Nature for the blessing (or curse) of one’s own existence.

    perhaps paradoxically, the evil in human nature, revolting as it is, serves as one of the most powerful stimuli to the evolution of higher consciousness. which (imao)is the name of the game on planet Earth.

    “learn to behave from those who cannot” (sufi saying )

    this is not to detract from our mourning for the victims of this evil.

    “in their own generation, the children of this world are more sagacious than the children of light”

    but those monkeys who cannot see beyond murder and stealing bananas are ineluctably doomed in the long term. Nature uses them as a necessary means. they are not, even by the most fantastical projections, exuded like pus from a bloated and eventually fatal carbuncle of misconstrued self-esteem, an end.

    the end is always the evolution of higher consciousness – love, joy, compassion, creativity, gratitude to the universe, friendliness to all creation… for such a remarkable enterprise success, in any particular case, can never be guaranteed. this consummation, devoutly as it may be wished, is not always attained on those planets where intelligence begins to develop.

    there are cosmic slums. may our beautiful Earth not become one of them.