Category Archives: Parliament

Motherfucker of parliaments

The political class has set itself against the people’s will

Dalrymple writes that the temporary suspension of Parliament by Boris Johnson

has been depicted, in the world’s Press and in Britain, as all but a coup d’état, the manœuvre of an incipient dictator, at the least an authoritarian measure.

It is, he says,

the opposite. It is designed to prevent a coup. The mirror-image of truth has largely prevailed.

Three years of manufactured chaos

Dalrymple lays out the facts.

Parliament agreed to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Although it had no force from the purely constitutional point of view, it was not intended as a glorified opinion poll and it was implicit that the winning side would decide the issue. No strong objections were raised in advance by those in favour of Britain remaining in the EU because they felt they would win with ease. Despite — or because of — the support of David Cameron and Barack Obama for the campaign for Britain to remain, those in favour of leaving gained 52% of the votes. Parliament, the majority of whose members were in favour of remaining, passed a resolution in obedience to the result; it would have been too brazen a defiance of the popular opinion that they had canvassed to have done otherwise. But having done this, they opposed both the deal negotiated by Theresa May and the withdrawal of Britain without any agreement. The EU had reiterated that it would not renegotiate the terms: it had no reason to do so, given May’s surrender on all fronts. Thus Parliament wanted neither the only deal then possible nor no deal.

The élite knows best

Parliament was

attempting to prevent any kind of withdrawal whatsoever, even in May’s extremely attenuated form. It set itself up against the will of the people as expressed in the referendum. Parliament was expressing its authority over popular opinion, presumably on the ground that it knew best what was good for the people on whose opinion on the question it had sought. If anyone could be accused of mounting a coup, albeit a slow-moving and indirect one, and of political authoritarianism, it was Parliament.

Suppose, says Dalrymple, that the vote had gone the other way — that 52% of those who voted had done so to remain.

Does anyone suppose for a moment that the disappointed leavers would have refused to accept the vote and manœuvred to thwart the will of the majority? A few might still have argued for eventual withdrawal, but would not have obstructed or threatened the continuance of the government as the remainers have done. Who are the democrats round here?

Those who demonstrate against Johnson’s manœuvre

do so because they claim to want Parliament to have its say. But Parliament has had its say for three years, without resolving the issue, and with a determination to thwart implementation of the resolution it had passed — because it never had any intention of carrying out the people’s wishes as expressed in the referendum.

Dalrymple notes that

to hold a plebiscite and ignore the result is now a European tradition, but to call it a democratic procedure is to twist the word beyond any possible meaning. Both the French and the Dutch publics voted against the proposed European Constitution by a wider margin than that by which the British voted to leave the EU, but got it anyway in a revised form, as a binding treaty rather than as a constitution. The political class thus triumphed over the population, banking on the fundamental apathy of the latter. But this a dangerous game.

Outraged dignity

The protesters against Johnson’s manœuvre

are not trying to defend parliamentary democracy, about which they do not give a fig: what they are protesting against is that the votes of those persons whom they consider ignorant, uneducated, prejudiced and xenophobic have a chance of being taken seriously, indeed as seriously as their own. This is an outrage to their dignity.

But as Dalrymple points out,

the educated are not ipso facto wiser than the uneducated, nor are they necessarily the stoutest defenders of freedom, a fact evident on many American campuses where opinion is free only as long as it coincides with the doxa. Among the greatest foes of freedom today are many of the educated. They are the anointed whose vision must prevail, and mirror-image truth serves that end.

He adds that

time is short, but ample enough for further betrayal.

The political class is a law unto itself

A real ray of sunshine: Philip Hammond is one of the leading Quislings

The anti-Johnson protesters are enemies of democracy

Dalrymple writes:

You would have thought, from the howls that greeted Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament, that he had appointed himself prime minister for life. Our democracy was in danger, said the demonstrators, meaning that Johnson’s manœuvre had made it harder for Parliament to obstruct the wishes of the people as expressed in the referendum.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, he says,

was right when he said that the outrage was bogus: it was that of a spoiled child who doesn’t want to go to bed.

Plebiscitary democracy,

in which a government puts questions to the population in the expectation of getting the answer it wants, is dangerous. The modern European tradition is to hold a plebiscite and take no notice of the result if it is ‘wrong’. This is what the demonstrating ‘defenders of democracy’ want. If they had objected beforehand to the procedure, pointing for example to the absurdity of deciding so complex a question on the basis of a single vote decided by 50% of the votes plus one, they might have had a point. But they did not. They expected to win the referendum and only turned against it because of the unexpected result.

Parliament, Dalrymple points out,

has conducted a long rearguard action against putting into effect the vote that it called. The majority of MPs were opposed to Brexit, but instead of coming straight out with it, they prevaricated so long and so efficiently that they almost scuppered the whole process. Having canvassed public opinion in a supposedly binding referendum on a vital subject, to ignore the result can only strengthen the impression that the political class is a law unto itself.

Britain’s spiv economy, polity and society

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-23-02-15

Tony Blair: capo di tutti spivvi

The UK House of Commons, Dalrymple reports,

wants to strip [the tycoon] Sir Philip Green of his knighthood because it alleges that he is a spiv.

Dalrymple is

perfectly prepared to believe that he is a spiv, though I cannot claim to have followed his career closely. At the very least he seems to be a man given to vulgar show.

The Saturday supplement of the Financial Times newspaper: for people with more money than taste

The Saturday supplement of the Financial Times newspaper: for people with more money than taste

But Dalrymple asks:

How many members of the British parliament and government are spivs, or hope to become spivs at the end of their political careers? Two of our last three prime ministers were clearly of spiv calibre, one of them indeed to spivs what the capo dei capi is to the Mafia. If Parliament deprived them of their pensions, then it might have done something useful.

Once you grasp the concept of spivvery,

much about modern Britain becomes explicable. You have only to read the Financial Times’ Saturday supplement, How To Spend It, to understand how much of our economy is in essence a spiv economy. The supplement is aimed not at people with more money than sense, but at a group of people far, far worse: people with more money than taste, for whom Sir Philip is a leader of fashion.

David Cameron: clearly of spiv calibre

David Cameron: clearly of spiv calibre

We have, Dalrymple points out,

raised up spivs to the summit of our economy and society.

Moreoever, Britain has a tax system

that turns accountancy into the queen of the sciences.

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Sir Philip Green: leader of fashion

Parliament of petty profiteers

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 12.25.36Again and again, writes Dalrymple, Britain’s political class

is revealed as ­fin­ancially ­unscrupulous and grasping, not missing the slightest opportunity to enrich itself at public expense, leading the electorate to the conclusion it is out exclusively for ­itself and cares not at all for the good of the country.

The danger is that

cynicism about the political system will­ result either in complete apathy and retreat into private life or support for some kind of authoritarianism.

The British parliament again and again

protects the financial interests of its members, acts as judge and jury of its own probity and administers slaps over the wrist for sharp practices, morally dubious or discreditable even where not outright illegal.