Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Stealth Dictator

What on earth is Gordon Brown up to as he prepares for government? After all those years of waiting around for the top job, he’s certainly had enough time to come up with a few good ideas. Maybe, sorting out the mess which is the NHS? Or perhaps more reforms on education? But no. Ten years of waiting impatiently for the keys to number ten and one of the first reforms which is mooted is an increase in the period that terror suspects can be held without charge.

He’s got to be joking. One of his greatest weaknesses is his own personal democratic deficit and you’d have thought that at the very least he’d be sensitive to it. First, he spent years sulking about how our democratically elected prime minister failed to hand over to him the reins of power as agreed over a spot of pasta in the mid-nineties. That should have served as a warning. Like a spoilt schoolboy he believed he had the right to the prize without any reference to the electorate. Eventually, last September, a year and a half into a new parliament, he led his forces into a coup d’etat which would eventually topple the man with the electorate’s mandate more than two years before he needed to go. Then, just as there was the faintest whiff of democratic debate over his succession, his forces bullied any potential contenders out of the race. The clear message was “you’re either in Gordon’s gang or you’re not in at all.”

This is worse, even, than the traditional velvet revolutions where there is a peaceful handover of power to the victor, often a military dictator. At least they are honest enough to call a coup a coup. Not so with Gordon and his stealth coup. Suddenly we wake up to find he is prime minister and wonder how on earth he got there without standing for any election in his life other than for the presidency of his student union and that for his safe Scottish constituency. Which by the way reminds us that he’ll be running the affairs of Britain whilst most of the electorate have no say over the affairs of the people who actually did have a say in electing him. Oh, and just in case he excuses this by blaming the system, let’s not forget that it’s a system he helped introduce.

Yet with all this in mind, he chooses to attack one of the most basic and important of our democratic freedoms and attempt once more to extend the period that a person can be held without trial to ninety days. This is despite the fact that the period is already, at twenty-eight days, one of the longest in the free world and that parliament only recently rejected an attempt to increase it. Perhaps even worse than this is that the proposal wasn’t even made in parliament. It was whispered by his bullies down the corridors of power, allowing him ample room for retreat. Let’s hope, for democracy’s sake, this is not a sign of things to come.


Anonymous said...

Ah but at least he’s got charisma, er damn, no, that’s flash Gordon I’m thinking of.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Now where did I put Blunkett?

Beach Bum said...

Fair point - I agree that it is truly shocking that (in what is left of our democracy) we end up with a PM that has been elected by a party not the people. However, is this really a surprise when we cannot call ourselves citizens, but subjects?

Beach Bum