If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Labour and "crazy ideas"

What is a 'crazy idea' to Labour? Why, one that comes from an ordinary member of the public, of course.

The BBC report that
A plan to allow popular online petitions to be debated in Parliament within a year has been given the go ahead by the government.
Petitions will be hosted on the direct.gov website, and those gaining the most support will be debated in Parliament. Notice that this does not mean that 'Jeremy Clarkson for PM' will become law; merely that if the idea finds enough support, and passes certain criteria for eligibility, it will be debated by MPs. It may not succeed, but it will get a hearing. Predictably, Labour are up in arms:
But Labour said the plans would mean "crazy ideas" being discussed by MPs.
By 'crazy ideas', they mean ideas which have not come through the establishment policy mill: well- (or ill-) intentioned, tempered by party considerations, muted by political correctness, brushed and groomed and polished by the men in suits to make sure that, whatever is debated, nothing will be allowed to change. Ideas which ordinary people have, for making their lives better. The ordinary people that Labour (in their left-wing days) used to say could be trusted, before the people went disobediently off-message over things like immigration and Europe. Paul Flynn leads the charge:

This seems to be an attractive idea to those who haven't seen how useless this has been in other parts of the world when it's tried.

"If you ask people the question 'do you want to pay less tax?', they vote yes.

Well, of course they do, you muppet. Perhaps this just means that people don't like having their money taken off them to pay for the ruling party's pet projects. It's not wicked or unreasonable - it's a legitimate subject for mature debate. I assume here he is referring to Proposition 13 in California in 1978, which limited property taxes and was wildly popular and passed by two-thirds of voters. Of course, it is ridiculous to ask people who pay taxes to decide on the nature and amount of those taxes - after all, who exactly is in charge here?

If we get the e-petitions in there will be some asking for Jeremy Clarkson to be prime minister, for Jedi and Darth Vader to be the religions of the country.

And what would be wrong with that? No-one is suggesting things like this would automatically become law. But they would add something to the rich tapestry of British political life, and let us get things off our chests that have no official outlet. One of the most popular petitions (before Downing Street got windy and removed the facility) was for Gordon Brown to resign. Was that a significant expression of public opinion, or just a 'crazy idea' that should have never have seen the light of day? See the election result for a clue.

"The blogosphere is not an area that is open to sensible debate; it is dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward."

Bollocks. I have read some crazy stuff on blogs, and some has been obsessive and fanatical. I have also read things that are as considered and intelligent as anything you read in the mainstream press. See the bloglist on the right of this page for examples of both. Interesting that he should mention bloggers; there is no reference to blogging that I could see in the proposals. That's Flynn revealing his fears and prejudices, that is.

The BBC, meanwhile, is obediently rubbishing the proposals before they have been presented:

BBC News political correspondent Ross Hawkins said that allowing petitions to be
drafted as parliamentary bills would be more difficult and would take longer to put in place.
Since when was that ever a problem for the raft of intrusive and controlling legislation that Labour foisted on us all?

At the heart of all this is the word 'populist'. It means things that many people actually approve of and support: the death penalty, immigration control, withdrawal from Europe. 'Populism' just means doing stuff that people want - y'know, the basis of democracy. Of the people, for the people, kind of thing. The fact that the Left uses the word as a term of abuse tells you all you need to know.

(Just for clarity, I don't support the death penalty. But every survey that has been made has shown a majority in favour of it, and I believe that the people should get their way on this, despite my disapproval.)


  1. Sounds like an excellent idea. Since our "Government" are little more than EU puppets, this would give them something useful to do...

    And it should push up the viewing figures for the BBC Parliament channel!

  2. Figures will double - from 2 to 4.

    There could be the basis of a good game here: hide 'parts of the body' in the petition wording (like petition), or spell 'cleggisanarse' with the first letter of every word, or something like that.


  3. Then it would be taken over by the Old Bill.

    Wasn't there a fuss recently when it transpired that a competition has been running to try and get as many names or song titles as possible into court proceedings?

    Or has my mind given up the ghost completely?

  4. It has.

    (Didn't hear of that one, but wish I'd thought of it first.)

  5. It was from the inquest into the suicide-by-cop death of trigger-happy barrister Saunders in Chelsea...

  6. And Petition entry No. 1:-

    Any MP or member of the House of Lords who submits an ineligible Expenses Claim be sacked immediately.

    [i.e is guilty of benefit Theft]

  7. You forgot the magic three words - 'hung', 'drawn' and 'quartered'.

    Seriously, good point. All they have to do to comply is to live life by the same rules as the rest of us.

  8. It's all a dream, an illusion. Innit?

    The death penalty point troubles me, and a couple of others. And there's a distinct possibility that the majority would want rid of awkward buggers like me. But I'm willing to try a little democracy for a change.

  9. Thanks Julia - your mind is clearly in better shape than mine!

  10. I'm working on numbing it with Herculean quantities of booze over Christmas & the New Year!

  11. Go Julia! The rest of us will try to keep up.

  12. XX This seems to be an attractive idea to those who haven't seen how useless this has been in other parts of the world when it's tried.XX


    Aye REALLY useless lot there. Voted against mosques....OOOHHHHHH!!! Wew CAN'T have THAT! Where would the U.K sell all it's surplus arms to if the public, in a rare fit of democcracy actualy DID vote as the Swiss, so upseting the SDaudi wankers?

  13. Yes, you see the Swiss use their freedom to vote for the wrong things. Democracy is a great thing, so great that we will kill people to ensure they have it, but only as long as the people want the correct things. Once people start wanting the wrong things, well, something has to be done.

    Remember Austria, who voted democratically for Jorg Haider until the rest of the EU froze them out until they elected a more 'appropriate' leader?

  14. And then Haider had an...."accident"....Just like Fountaine (sp?) in Holland.

    VERY "convienient".

  15. Over the speed and alcohol limits ... eerily reminiscent of Princess Diana's alleged "death" :) I wouldn't be too alarmed over this. Shit happens, even to famous people.

  16. Excellent post, especially the last paragraph. On a related point I despise the way that a minority of people believe in choice-edit because we aren't as intelligent as them. Despite the fact that more than two people watch the X factor etc, I have more confidence in the intelligence of crowds than dogmatic busybodies (see Monbiot and housing policy).

  17. Thank you for that link to an outrageously patronising pile of polar bear shit. I would trust the crowd, too. All thast stuff about the British being tolerant and good-natured is generally true, and I'd trust a jury of my peers far beyond a politician or 'activist' who wanted to do something 'for my own good'.


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