Reading the text of today’s speech by Nick Clegg, in which he promised a re-alignment of the relationship between the people and the state, “the biggest shake-up of our democracy in 178 years”, I concluded that he was in danger of dividing himself into the four beasts that, according to the Book of Revelations, are to ride horses of different colours symbolising unpleasant things and to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the last judgement.
The four unpleasant things revealed by Clegg are:-
- We are to be given a choice only between two ‘unproportional’ ways of electing our MPs - by ‘first past the post’ and the ‘alternative vote’.
- There are to be elections to the House of Lords by a system which ensures proportional representation of (and therefore dominance by) the political parties.
- ‘We’ are to be given no opportunity of suggesting different ways of constructing ‘our’ parliament to which Nick Clegg will, together with other political notables, be accountable.
- There is no proposal for a system accepting some separation of the powers and which permits the appointment of ministers who are neither Peers nor MPs whilst ensuring their accountability to Parliament.
All of these, sins of commission and omission which reek of lax thinking and a frantic cobbling together of compromises in the course of agreeing the coalition, are really bad, even if his proposals on ensuring our liberty are excellent.
If we are to have a thorough shake-up it must recognise the need to re-align not the relationship between the people and the state but that between the people and the political establishment. It is the political parties that must find the courage to ‘let go’ and to return the power that they have stolen from ‘the people’. If this is not done then the ‘new politics’ we are told about will be rejected, particularly by young in purple. And the last judgement of our political masters will be particularly horrid.