State violence


            The mass murders in Egypt, perpetrated by the authorities in the name of restoring order, are a reminder of how long and arduous the battle for true democracy can be. They are also a  vivid and bloody illustration of the tendency of many states to abuse their near monopoly of force in society in the name of keeping the peace.

            In 1819 in Manchester the Hussars were let loose on a peaceful assembly campaigning for “Liberty” and “Universal suffrage”. Yesterday was the one hundred and ninety fourth anniversary of that protest. On that dark  day 11 people died of their wounds at Peterloo and maybe another 7 died in related incidents. British democracy was far from perfect. A Englishman might have his liberty compared to many other societies around the world, but only prosperous freeholders got a vote in elections. There was a rule of law, trial by jury, and innocence until proven guilty, but the legal regime was harsh by modern standards, and society was  class ridden.

          Though the British establishment exonerated the Magistrates who had taken action to arrest the leaders of the protest and had unleashed the troops, many were rightly shocked and incensed by the barbarism of the slaughter. The  widening of the franchise and other democratic reforms  followed a few years later. The massacre, mockingly dubbed the battle of Peterloo, became part of the impetus to further democratic reform.

          Today states have even more power to control, subvert or harm their citizens. A strong state uses that power sparingly, and only with good cause. A state should be very reluctant ever to shed the blood of its citizens, when it normally has the power to arrest, detain,and punish where appropriate. The dead at Peterloo were a needless scar on the UK’s record. The far bigger massacre in Egypt is a huge tragedy. It will make governing and uniting Egypt that much more difficult. The only good would be if practically all Egyptians reacted in horror at the scale of the deaths, whatever their wishes concerning who should govern. Whether it will lead rapidly to a change of approach and a happier outcome, as in 1830s UK, is more difficult to believe.

           For democracy to succeed the majority in office has to govern in the interests of all the people as it sees it. It certainly has to avoid so damaging or suppressing the minority that they lose faith in the system. The opposition  has to accept that its way of redress is to win the next election and reverse what it does not like once it has the majority. Government has to allow democratic, noisy, peaceful challenge. Opposition has to accept the ultimate right of the majority to govern until the next election. In the UK case in 1819  the army was brought in by the magistrates with the effective acceptance of the democratically elected government, but it still proved to be a deeply unpopular move which affected politics.


  1. Mike Stallard
    August 17, 2013

    If you believe that Allah/God is in direct contact telling you to do things, and if all your friends and fellow worshippers believe the same thing, then you are bound to do it. No question. The Salafist strap line is compelling: “Do right and stop evil!” Who could argue with that?

    Meanwhile, the Egyptian army, which I imagine, is a huge bureaucracy full of the sort of people who run the NHS/DfE here is determined that they and only they are in control. and a billion dollars (USA) says they are right.

    Meanwhile, the witsters who call the EU the EUSSR are right: who elected Mr Barroso?


    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 17, 2013

      Mike–The worst of it is that even if Barroso had been elected that wouldn’t have meant much because people spread across Europe, what with the ineluctable and self-evident language and many other disparities, would have had close to no idea who he was or whether he was competent. Of course we would have, perish the thought, the BBC to explain it all to us.

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 17, 2013


        It’s hard enough to run a national democratic system which can really be regarded as democratic, and once it becomes a transnational system then it is nothing more than a figleaf.

        Not that this would be of any concern to the Maoist Barroso, of course.

      2. lifelogic
        August 18, 2013

        Precisely. There is simply no EU demos upon which any real democracy can reside.

    2. Lifelogic
      August 17, 2013

      Indeed as you say who elected Barroso or recent leaders in some of the southern EU countries. What proportion of people in the UK voted for Libdem types to push the absurd green energy agenda and hand over ever more parts of UK sovereignty to the EU?

    3. Lifelogic
      August 17, 2013

      Good people will do good things and bad people do bad things.
      But for good people to do bad things, it often takes religion.

      1. Bazman
        August 17, 2013

        Would tax cuts for the rich not solve this allowing investment from across the world. This combined with a stopping of all aid and subsidies to all sides and the selling of weapons to promote a outcome fairly for all sides and helping the industries of Britain?

    4. uanime5
      August 17, 2013

      Hard to really judge the morality of the Egyptian army, given that before they overthrew the Government many people in Egypt were protesting because the Islamic brother was trying to dismantle democracy in Egypt.

      Also Mr Barroso was elected unanimously by the leaders of the 26 EU states.

  2. colliemum
    August 17, 2013

    Your last paragraph is acceptable, but sadly your whole post, that last paragraph included, relies on a wrong premise, namely that islam is just like other religions, without any influence on the politics of a state.

    I am surprised that so many politicians in the UK seem to find the behaviour of the muslim brotherhood perfectly acceptable.
    I am surprised that not a word is being said by politicians or MSM about the persecution of Copts (while ed) the muslim brotherhood (were) in power, and the burning of churches of Copts and Anglicans in the last few days.
    I am surprised that all the oh-so-clever politicians in the collective ‘west’ are getting conniptions about the military getting involved, treating the muslim brotherhood like innocent victims and totally overlooking the fact that millions of Egyptians had been protesting against Mursi and his regime, for months, before the military became involved.

    Finally, all those protesting politicians, pondering the ‘pure’ democracy and how horrible army involvement is, and who seem to think that the people should be content with elections every four years ought to take a look at history.
    Was it, is it for example, possible for Iranians to elect politicians who would change the theocratic regime? I think we all know that the answer is ‘no’.
    The millions of Egyptians took the only way open to them, with the military moving to their side.
    It is a major error to analyse what is happening in Egypt as if this were a settled, western democracy.

    Reply Please read my piece again. It is balanced, and sets out how an elected government has to govern as well as how an opposition has to behave to create a true democracy. The free election is just the beginning – governments then have to avoid abusing their power and seek to keep people on side, and oppositions have to use lawful and peaceful protest and complaint to help them win the next time.

    1. Disaffected
      August 17, 2013

      Avoid abusing power and keeping people on their side- like regime change in Libya and Iraq you mean? Perhaps gay marriage? Expense or lobbying scandals? Second jobs relating to roles when ministers? Peaceful protest is ignored by arrogant politicians, remember Iraq war? Like a referendum on the EU that people wanted and Cameron made a three line whip to prevent?

      1. Mark B
        August 17, 2013

        Not to forget the Labour Parties PROMISE in the 2005 manifesto to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Or like giving away out sovereignty to an foreign power with out our consent.

        Me thinks our political class has gotten off very lightly.

    2. Acorn
      August 17, 2013

      JR, with respect, your reply is somewhat naive.
      (Para and link I have not researched left out ed)
      Back where it all started; who said this. “The war aimed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but there weren’t any. The war aimed to eliminate al Qaeda in Iraq, but the terrorist group didn’t exist in the country until after the invasion. The lingering effect of war on Iraqis 10 years later: Iraq’s phantom WMD. The war aimed to make Iraq a model democracy based on law, but it replaced tyranny with anarchy and led America to practices that violated the laws of war. The war aimed to transform Iraq to a friendly base for U.S. troops capable to act, if needed, against Iran — but instead it gave Iran a new ally in Baghdad.”

    3. colliemum
      August 17, 2013

      Thank you for your reply, John, which I have read as diligently as I’ve read your original post.

      Your reply describes how government, opposition and governed should behave under ideal circumstances.

      But what if a government is dismantling the judiciary, is imprisoning or killing opposition leaders and ordinary people, while pushing through a sort of ‘constitution’ which not only disallows any true opposition but also allows the once elected ‘president’ to reign in perpetuity?

      The 2009 elections in Iran showed exactly what chance the governed have to change such government at the ballot box: none!

      This perversion of what we understand under democratic rule was also being initiated by Morsi, and millions of Egyptians wanted none of that.

      It is a sad fact that we do not live in an ideal world, and it is another sad fact that we seem to think that it is ‘democracy’ when the governed can be herded to go and tick a box every four years.
      So all is as it should be in countries like Egypt, and the people best be quiet and let themselves be ‘governed’ into tyranny, provided they’re allowed to tick the box for the tyrants at the next election – because that’s democracy …

      Reply You make the anti Morsi case. I do not know enough to judge between the sides in Egypt and I was careful not to do so. I only know what the tv shows me. My observation is that to create a democracy there needs to be a different approach by both sides in the way I describe. It takes many years and patient politics to get there. I have just lived for 13 years under a government I disagreed with. I recognised they had every right to govern, and I had every right to criticise and try to get a change of government. Both sides not only have to buy into the idea of peaceful change in governments at election time, but also into the compromises both government and opposition have to make to co exist in a democracy. Opposition has to feel they might be able to get the government to change its mind or make a concession in its direction. Government has to know that it can normally get its way by peaceful means, but needs to retain sufficient popular support to be able to do so.

      1. forthurst
        August 17, 2013

        “I recognised they had every right to govern”

        A Constitutional right, maybe, but when governments are elected based on disproportionately sized constituencies, by a minority of voters and an even smaller minority of the electorate, and then they impose actions neither promised nor sought by the majority such as the war in Iraq and massive third world immigration, one cannot concede that right as absolute. Nor is the imposition of candidates by the (people ed) who have usurped control of the Tory Party based on non-Englishism, feminism, LGBTism a step in the right direction.

        The current situation in Egypt with regard to precisely who is actually responsible for provoking incidents leading to bloodshed is unclear as each side claims the other is responsible. As with the situation in Iran, so in Egypt, there are external actors pursuing their own interests. There is an ongoing agenda involving the fragmentation of states by exploiting religious and ethno-tribal differences (words left out ed), ripe for plunder of their oil. What is certain is that as in Iran, rooftop snipers have been initiating killings and it is not clear whose they are.

        Reply There is no evidence that the USA has wanted the current mess in Egypt, and plenty of evidence that they are finding it difficult to know how to respond.

      2. Normandee
        August 17, 2013

        And do you think for a moment that if the labour government for that 13 years could have avoided an election they wouldn’t have. Do you think that if Tony Blair thought he could get away with saying that all my decrees will go into law and cannot be disputed he wouldn’t have. The difference is that Morsi was already on that road, and he was not allowed, now the MB are using their religious control to put millions on the street deliberately to create a catastrophe knowing the puppets and soft hearted liberal west will try to intervene and make them the victims.

      3. colliemum
        August 17, 2013

        Again, much thanks for your reply, John.
        What you describe, and what we voters have also lived through, is how we expect our government and opposition parties to behave. But we have a centuries-old tradition of having such change in government, and we have a centuries old tradition of all observing and honouring both government and loyal opposition. This, our centuries-old parliamentary history, makes us a rather unique country. Neither the USA nor Switzerland, the countries who have similar traditions, can look back on such a history as ours.

        IAW – we’re used to this.

        It is hugely different in the ME, where the experiences of countries in the last half century reach from a democracy similar to ours (Israel) to kingdoms as feudal as they come and dictatorships to theocracies as brutal as any in the world’s history.
        Regarding Egypt – well, I prefer to get my information from as many sources as I can, not relying on the BBC as the one-and-only provider. It is easy in the present world, using the internet, to access international TV and papers, blogs and comments by people who are closer to the action than some editor in London. Yes, there’ll be bias, but I suspect that those like me who are interested learn more and know better than some hacks who selectively quote from twitter!
        Yes, the loss of life in Egypt is utterly deplorable – but I have the Hungarian uprising in 1956 seared into my memory. That was a suppression of a popular uprising by military might, compared to which Egypt is nothing more than a bloody police action.

        1. Acorn
          August 19, 2013

          JR, as you blitzed my last post and you say you only know what the TV tells you. (makes an attack on the MB ed)
          The U.S. military is heavily dependent on Egypt to move personnel and equipment to Afghanistan and around volatile parts of the Middle East, complicating U.S. efforts to place pressure on the Egyptian military in the wake of its violent crackdown on protesters.

          “Egypt has been a cornerstone for the U.S. military presence in the Middle East,” said James Phillips, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

          During the past year, more than 2,000 U.S. military aircraft flew through Egyptian airspace, supporting missions in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, according to U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for the region.

          About 35 to 45 U.S. 5th Fleet naval ships pass through the Suez Canal annually, including carrier strike groups, according to the Bahrain-based fleet. Egypt has allowed U.S. warships to be expedited, which often means getting to the head of a very long line of ships waiting for access to the canal. (USA Today)

    4. zorro
      August 17, 2013

      The Muslim Brotherhood had their chance and fluffed it (not at all surprising). The practical effect of their reign was to favour their own people and make Egypt ungovernable. They made no effortat all to protect the rights of other religious minoroties.


  3. lifelogic
    August 17, 2013

    “The mass murders in Egypt, perpetrated by the authorities in the name of restoring order, are a reminder of how long and arduous the battle for true democracy can be.” Yet meanwhile UK politicians are, heart and soul, happy to give it away without reference to the people to whom it belongs. Even to the extent of ratting on such promises or delaying them until they have left office for two years or so.

    But then can democracy actually work when religions are so strongly held by a large proportion of the voters. Surely some pragmatic, logic and reason is needed.

    1. backofanenvelope
      August 17, 2013

      I thought the most encouraging report was of the crowds in Egypt (and Turkey) chanting “No more beards!”

      1. lifelogic
        August 17, 2013

        Was that not in protest at Jeremy Paxman.

    2. lifelogic
      August 17, 2013

      What a surprise:- “Senior-civil-servants-tax-bills-paid-using-public-money” one tax law for the worker bees and another for expenses for MPs, Lords, Prince Charles and now even senior Civil Servants it seems.

      Does Osborne find this “Morally Repugnant” one wonders?

      1. zorro
        August 17, 2013

        Especially those in the civil service hierarchy hypocritically preaching restraint on expenses (and negotiating tax arrangements on their salaries I seem to remember) whilst busily hiding away their perks…..


      2. alan jutson
        August 17, 2013


        If this report is true, it just shows once again that it is one rule for some, but another for the majority.

        Yet another reason for MPs and Civil Servants to be employed under exactly the same PAYE Employment and Tax conditions, as the millions who pay for them in the first place.

        If a private business did as reported, I would suggest it would be subject to and Inland Revenue Investigation, and a fine.

        How many more Benefits in Kind ?

        1. lifelogic
          August 17, 2013

          Indeed, still we are “all in it together” as they keep telling us!

          I heard a rather pathetic defence of it all for some spokesperson on the BBC, claiming it had gone on for years (so even worse then) and they were basically work related expenses – which is clearly total nonsense.

          Rather like the person (paid?) to say with a straight face that Prince Charles derived no competitive business advantages from his special no tax rules – just how daft do these people think the public actually are? They will be telling he leads a green energy saving lifestyle next!

  4. Johnny Norfolk
    August 17, 2013

    Is it democracy when one thing is promised to ensure election. The complete opposite is then enacted after winning the election as happened in Egypt.
    Egypt is fighting to stop extream Islam.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 17, 2013

      As happens in the UK too. Were we not promised the Tories would clear the deficit this term, and lift IHT thresholds to £1M, and no more transfers of powers to the EU?

      All ratted on like the Cast Iron Guarantee.

      Reply Tory promises, Coalition government – you cannot deliver a Tory policy without a majority un less the Lib Dems agree

      1. Lifelogic
        August 17, 2013

        To reply:- did Cameron even try? He conceded the alternative vote referendum very quickly, but I suspect rather liked the Libdems as an excuse to rat on the rest. Why is he ratting on IHT even years after the next election for example? He could not even agree fair constituencies for the next election. Do such PR people make good negotiators (or good leaders with sound a sense of direction) at all clearly not it seems.

        Had Cameron thrown away any more seats against Brown, we would have had LabLib coalition, and perhaps the prospect of a real Tory party in 2015. Rather than the current dismal prospect.

      2. Tad Davison
        August 17, 2013

        I’d like to know what the Tory party stands for these days. It doesn’t speak for me. The party seems to preoccupied with gaining the liberal vote, whilst ignoring the massive amount of right thinking people who are clearly not properly represented. Why else would UKIP be gaining so much disaffected Tory support?

        If Cameron really wants to make his mark before the next election, he should come out and say two things very clearly. What he would like to do if he had a majority government, but what he is confined to do, because of the limitations of the present coalition. Then we would finally know if he’s really a true blue Tory, or just another liberal PC pinko.


        1. lifelogic
          August 17, 2013

          We already know – he is a “BBC think”, tax borrow and waste, serial ratting, big government, pro EU, anti-democratic, fake green, pro enforced “equality”, anti a greater Switzerland, lefty – to his very heart and soul alas.

      3. Brian Tomkinson
        August 17, 2013

        Reply to reply,
        Who’s idea was it to have a coalition? Your leader’s and do you know I think he is happier with that than being PM of a Conservative government.

      4. Max Dunbar
        August 17, 2013

        Reply to reply:
        Churchill led and dominated a coalition government through sheer force of character. Did he make excuses like this? And would Thatcher have operated in this way? You were close enough to Thatcher to make an accurate guess now. We would be interested to know your view.

        Reply Running a Coalition to win a war is very different – of course most people most of the time were united, as they saw the external danger of disunity. There was no disagreement about the purpose of the government. My advice to Mr Cameron was not to enter this Coalition. I would have given the same advice to Mrs Thatcher.

        1. lifelogic
          August 18, 2013

          Cameron clearly should have won the election not given it away and should clearly not have entered the coalition but then he is clearly a Libdem at heart. What was he ever doing in the Tory party?

  5. lifelogic
    August 17, 2013

    We also now have jury trials under attack and political interference with what lawyers in court may say (or often even think it seems). Training in how to think in PC/modern mode seems to the order of the day a new absurd government religion to be forced into people’s heads.

    Rather like the daft “BBC think” assumption that the fact that 80% of people choosing Physics at UNI are male and 70% of people doing languages are female is somehow due to out dates attitudes that have to be changed. Might it not just be freedom of choice and gender preferences? As is very clearly the case if you look at it logically.

    Even so called scientists taking this daft PC approach it seems.

    1. Bazman
      August 17, 2013

      In the middle ages bear baiting, torture, wife beating, and many other things where normal and legal in fact even advocated by the church and state. Now l’ll this is frowned upon by most. What led to these changes daft pc think? Have think and how attitudes shape what subjects woman take and the lives they lead. Maybe in the 1920’s they decided to get educated and not think of kittens and children due to a new absurd government religion to be forced into people’s heads? Where will it all end? I can come out with my own nonsense which I believe is true and can defend. Here goes! Woman still tend to be owned by men. I’ll say in again. Woman are still owned by men. Fact. Feminist nonsense? Oh really…Lets hear your daft PC ideas of why they are not.
      Ram it.

  6. Denis Cooper
    August 17, 2013

    The first troops deployed at Peterloo were not the regular cavalry but the yeomanry.

    Wikipedia has an account which may not be accurate in every detail but gives the broad picture: cavalry yeomanry regiments had been raised across the country at the behest of the wealthy to deal with the threat of social unrest; they were “relatively inexperienced militia recruited from among shopkeepers and tradesmen”; the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry were sent in first on this occasion, with drawn swords, then the Hussars; and apparently the Cheshire Yeomanry charged from a different direction at about the same time as the Hussars.

    “Aftermath and disbandment

    The government and landowners viewed the yeomanry’s actions at Peterloo as a courageous defence against insurrection. Following the massacre, on 27 August 1819, Lord Sidmouth sent a message of thanks from the Prince Regent to Major Trafford, among others. However, public horror at the actions of the yeomanry grew after the massacre. Major Trafford resigned his commission in 1820, and the yeomanry corps was disbanded on 9 June 1824.”

    One question is to what extent the European Gendarmerie Force or EGF can be seen as a modern transnational equivalent of the British yeomanry raised and deployed to suppress civil disorder in the early 19th century.

    Its personnel will not be as poorly trained as the yeomanry, being full time professionals drawn from national police forces “with military status”:

    Officially units of the EGF have only been deployed outside the EU, so far, although as I recall a question in Parliament some years ago elicited a ministerial answer which left it open whether they could also deployed within the EU and within the UK.

    In 2011 there were claims that EGF personnel had been seen assisting the Greek riot police, but those rumours appear to be unsubstantiated.

    1. forthurst
      August 17, 2013

      “Its personnel will not be as poorly trained as the yeomanry, being full time professionals drawn from national police forces “with military status””

      The situation in the USA since the Patriot Act, and lately, the NDAA, is far, far worse. The Department of Homeland Security with its subsidiary, the Transportation Security Administration has been busily arming itself with all the paraphenalia of modern urban warfare used by the occupation forces of the ‘allies’ in instituting democracy in the ME and elsewhere. As well as intrusive searches at airports, searches are now being conducted at train and bus stations with entirely random searches in other public places, all in total breach of the 4th Amendment. When the USA wished to learn how to build rockets after WWII, they hired Werner von Braun, a German engineer to guide them. In 2004, the DHS hired Markus Wolf the non-German ex-head of the Stasi to guide them. When British politicians such as Daniel Hannon on ‘Worlds Apart with Oxana Boyko’ wax lyrical about the Anglosphere, its traditions of democracy and law etc whilst receiving an unexpectledly close examination by a Russian journalist with an intelligence and professionalism British politicians are unused to, they demonstrate that they simply have not been paying attention to who actually is now effectively running the USA and how they are progressively unravelling the freedoms bequeathed the people through the US Constitution.

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 18, 2013

        Unlike Daniel Hannan I think the USA provides us with more examples of what we should NOT do than examples we could usefully copy.

  7. Mike Wilson
    August 17, 2013

    What is happening in Egypt is terrible – but a salutary reminder, perhaps, of what happens when you allow politics and religion to mix.

    Let us hope we heed these lessons from afar and resist ABSOLUTELY any calls from people of any particular religion to insist on their religious laws or traditions being incorporated into the legislature.

    On the subject of democracy, ours is not that great. We can, at least, throw a government out every 5 years without bloodshed – that is good and, of course, fundamental. But it would be nice if we did not sit on our laurels and tried to find a way to make more people feel their vote had some actual purpose.

    Our constituency based political system, dominated by two whipped parties, means that many people see little point in voting as their vote barely counts.

    Even if one argues that a constituency based political system is the best of imperfect methods, some fairness in the way constituencies are carved up is essential. The inbuilt bias of our current system towards the Labour party must, in the name of democracy, be changed.

    I would have thought that the technological advances of the last few years must be bringing closer the day when we – the people – can express our opinion on many more matters – rather than electing someone every 5 years to be our mouthpiece. We all have Unique IDs – our National Insurance numbers. Combined with our first name, last name and date of birth you have the basis of a secure log in. You just need to add a password and, perhaps, a government issued email address – and you have the basis for a secure voting system. Results from such a system (to counter the argument it will be abused) could be used by government as guidance rather than the absolute instructions of the electorate.

    I would be interested to see the results of such a system asking the questions …

    Do you think immigration should be stopped?

    Do you think we should only allow in people with skills where there is a definite skill shortage?

    Do you think the government should use public money to guarantee the loans of people taking on mortgages?

    Do you think we should leave the European Union?

    Apart from a much higher turnout, you’d remove the filtering of information by the media.

    1. behindthefrogs
      August 17, 2013

      How do you avoid disenfranchising the 20%(?) who do not have the ability to use the latest technology? For example half of the over sixty fives do not use email. Those of us who do not have the latest mobile phones etc. already find ourselves being left behind. As another example, my elderly mother does not have a national insurance number.

      1. Mike Wilson
        August 17, 2013

        @behindthefrogs – Your mother does not have a NI number? I didn’t realise you could get through life without one. Don’t you need one to get a state pension? (I’m not questioning what you say, just surprised).

        As for disenfranchising … yes, obviously that would be an issue. Which is why, at this stage, I would suggest it would be used for polling what the electorate think, rather than as an election tool.

        At the moment our system only gets 60% to the polls even in a general election. Maybe, in a general election, a combination of electronic and poll station voting could be offered. This would (I hope) increase turnout.

        I write software for a living and I am in my 60s. My generation invented the internet and personal computing. I know many people in their 70s and 80s who use the internet. (I am not trying to argue that there are not elderly people who don’t use it – I know there are, but maybe not as many as one might think). I feel myself left behind by the mobile technology my sons use all the time. One has to keep up these days. I’m going to have to lash out on an iphone one of these days and get myself the SDK to write an app and find out what it is all about.

      2. lifelogic
        August 17, 2013

        My mum at over 80 does, but she ring me all the time when it goes wrong, as the poorly designed anti-consumer software does often.

  8. margaret brandreth-j
    August 17, 2013

    Again, as I always tend to do, we can look at human nature from a few and build in ever increasing circles until we get some idea of the whole. There is no point in saying democracy is this one thing or another ( although the basic ground rules you have so rightly written, apply) because all interpret to their own advantage. This is exemplified by Mike Stallard who correctly points out that followers of a certain religion, and to be accepted within their own group, have to comply with the dictatorial ethos and practices of this religion. It isn’t freedom : freedoms as a whole make up the total of democracy.
    I suspect that in Egypt many are being taken up in the trouble and the Conscientious objectors are being targeted , by all sides. I have watched the TV reporters shaking whilst delivering the news. Is it surprising. They are scared by the lack of freedom to report what they see.
    Perhaps some are watching John Fays’ serial Drama ‘The Mill. Mr Fay does not pretend that his recordings of this historical representation are accurate, but much of his material is taken from anecdotal evidence. The drama depicts a time approx. 180 years ago in a mill in Cheshire where workers were trying to get a decent life through ‘The Factory Act’. Shown are poor young girl workers who were abused and left to die , used as prostitutes and much more. Was this democracy? No !because democracy evolves . There are continual fights and tensions with the big ‘I’s’ who consider themselves to be far more important than others. Compliance is in the name of ‘to prevent myself from being harmed I will behave or do one thing or another or I will suffer’ It is a continual state of blackmail and bullying and not solely due to the State persae , but in the hearts and minds of those who forcefully enjoy enforcing their will on others.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 17, 2013

      I watched two and half episodes of “The Mill”, and your account of it is an even further departure from reality.

      They were orphans, male and female, and the mill owners were genuinely concerned to help them by employing them in a trade which could eventually provide them with an adult livelihood.

      It was a boy, not a girl, who lost his hand through an unguarded drive belt.

      What would you have preferred, in that fictional scenario?

      That instead they were left in the workhouse, so that when they were old enough they could break stones for the roads and pick oakum to caulk ships, rather than having the chance to learn what was then a relatively well-paid trade?

      The “Factory Act” you mention was the 1847 Ten Hours Act:

      and it was by no means the first Act of Parliament which attempted to place limits on the exploitation of workers by their employers.

      As in some other cases the principle advocate for legislation to protect workers was actually a Tory, Lord Shaftesbury, the Shaftesbury whose name is perpetuated in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue:,_7th_Earl_of_Shaftesbury

      It is a problem for modern day Tories how to escape the slur that historically they wanted to grind the faces of the industrial poor in the dirt, when it was the Liberals who were more inclined to oppose any interference by Parliament.

      1. margaret brandreth-j
        August 18, 2013

        I refer to a young lady who was being driven back to the workhouse and instead of arriving was sent onto the moors to die, which she did. I also refer to the six and a half days working a week the young girls were subjected to . I also refer to the mill owners refusing to acknowledge the age of a 17 year old because at the age of 17 the owners had to pay for the services. I also refer to the chains around a young girls legs and the cutting of her hair as a punishment. I also refer to the blackmailing of the mill owner as a male employer was threatened with loss of job or not to sign the factory act .I also refer to a young lady who wanted to know the truth about her age and in trying to track down her history was starving and forced into prostitution .
        I also refer to the fact I have distant relatives as mill owners and come from a family on my paternal side who suffered similarly. Don’t talk projected altruistic tosh.

        1. Denis Cooper
          August 18, 2013

          But you’re still referring to a modern work of fiction, supposedly based upon recorded events but as always interpreted in a certain way with a certain bias. To which you are adding your own bias, for example referring to one “young lady” and another when these were certainly not young “ladies” or “gentlemen” – they would probably have been taken in by relations who could afford to do so, even if sometimes grudgingly – but instead they were working class boys and girls left to fend for themselves either through being orphaned or being abandoned. If you had watched another recent and more factually based programme you would have seen how some years afterwards Barnardo started picking up such destitute waifs and strays from the streets, giving them an institutional home and then arranging for them to be fostered with families, for payment, but eventually with many tens of thousands of them being shipped to the colonies to become cheap workers, especially for farmers – it was Canada, in the particular case followed in that programme – and no doubt somebody could write a tear-jerking TV series about how terrible that was, as well.

          1. margaret brandreth-j
            August 19, 2013

            As I have commented and don’t intend to argue against your denial of cruelty which is historically documented( but this is no guarantee of proof in itself as we all know that there is much manipulation for the establishment)
            You won’t win any argument by wearing blinkers, if that is the intention.

  9. Neil Craig
    August 17, 2013

    This is an instance of the internet and cheap video cameras changing politics. Such events can now be seen within hours, sometimes minutes across the world.

    Unfortunately it also gives increased opportunity for false films to get purchase as, on several instances, has been shown to have happened in anti-Israeli pictures and even (reputable media ed) has admitted that they accidentally gave the impression that Fikret Aclic and others were being held behind barbed wire in a “concentration camp” by accidentally going into a barbed wire enclosure and accidentally filming them through it thereby accidentally leading people to believe they were behind the Serbian barbed wire. The responsibility of broadcasters to get it right is grave in a society of instant worldwide news.

    1. Bazman
      August 17, 2013

      Maybe this is why net neutrality should be fought against and some sort of order be put in place to control media errors such as this and file sharing copyright infringements. China aided by western technology is doing much work on this and their GDP grows every year. More restrictions on ‘freedom’ and less on employment rights, ‘uman rights and planning/pollution laws is needed.

    2. Denis Cooper
      August 17, 2013

      I’m not sure that broadcasters feel any great responsibility to “get it right” if what they have available to broadcast supports their own political agenda. That applies to all privately owned broadcasters but also to the BBC, which is in the very special position of being able to get your front door battered down if you have failed to pay their annual toll for watching any television broadcasts at all, not only theirs, while habitually, routinely, systematically, disregarding their statutory obligation to be politically impartial in their reportage. I suppose that while we have a coalition government the self-styled “Liberal Democrats” will foil any attempts to purge the BBC of its constant bias in favour of their weird world view, but then on the other hand I’m not convinced that the present leaders of the Tory party are that much bothered by it.

      1. Max Dunbar
        August 17, 2013

        Political impartiality is an ideal, an abstract concept even. It doesn’t exist and will never exist. The greatest dishonesty is that the BBC should even pretend that it is impartial at all.

  10. Max Dunbar
    August 17, 2013

    Our government failed abysmally during the most recent London riots.
    If the army had been used and numerous casualties inflicted on the looters would you regard that as ‘mass murder?’ Consequently, would you condone the use of the courts to prosecute soldiers for doing their duty defending property and innocent bystanders?

    Many people in this country, the majority possibly, have lost faith in the system. The country (attracts many ed) immigrants. The club doors have been flung open and membership has ceased to mean anything any more.

  11. alan jutson
    August 17, 2013

    Ah yes Democracy.

    Why is it that most supposed deveoped, democratic Governments which took many decades, indeed even centuries to evolve (and are still imperfect) in their own Country, seem to believe that democracy can be founded within a few years, in another Country where a dictatorship or tribal rule has been the norm previously.

    Decomcracy usually evolves in very small stages over a long period of time and in many cases conflict of one sort or another is used, to either defend or attack the original system.

    Methinks better to keep a distance whilst they sort it out internally.

    Perhaps encourage communication between the various parties, but that is where we should end our involvement.

  12. Atlas
    August 17, 2013

    Taking John’s point that the Federalists have a majority in this Parliament, then we have to applaud those brave Tory MPs who stand up to the EU appeasing tendencies of Cameron and his clique. It is only those MPs, who are calling Cameron’s EU “Emperor’s New Clothes” to account, which is stopping Parliament being just an EU rubber stamp.

  13. Tad Davison
    August 17, 2013

    The democracy we have in the UK is hard won, yet two things pose a big threat to it, and neither are democratic in themselves. First, is the EU and the undemocratic way it works, with appointees dictating policies which often override the laws of member states. That our elected politicians gave in to this is something they really ought to face a firing squad for. ( I seem to remember the public voted for this in 1975 when some of us pointed out the dangers ed)

    The second, is very sinister, insidious, and again has come about because of the inadequacies of our elected representatives. There weren’t many Nazis to be counted in the UK during world war two. Those who had Nazi sympathies were often interred to prevent subversion. (Why do we not lock up those who today are a threat to our democratic state? ed)
    I am absolutely against those who refuse to integrate into British society and accept our democratic values, whilst harbouring aspirations which would effectively change this country for ever if they had their way. (Claims to know of people who want to subvert the state ed)
    Politicians are to blame for this! They let it happen! They even wish to prevent us from talking freely about it! Yet they still try to tell us they believe in democracy whilst allowing two of the biggest threats to its very survival to go unchallenged. A pox on all their houses! They are storing up one hell of a lot of trouble for the future, and I wouldn’t pay most of them in washers!

    If there was a coup in Britain to get rid of all the useless Westminster politically correct bloodsuckers, and finally replace them with people who actually did the people’s bidding, I would be a happy man, and I couldn’t care less who knows how strongly I feel!

    Tad Davison


    Reply If you have evidence of people living here who plan to subvert the state in any illegal way you should report it to the authorities.
    I and other Conservative MPs are trying to get you a vote on EU membership as we share your frustration at how much power the EU now wields.

  14. oldtimer
    August 17, 2013

    Here in the UK, I note that the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 remains in place. This extends very wide powers to Ministers under defined circumstances, including deployment of the armed forces in this country.

  15. NickM
    August 17, 2013

    That is why we have Her Majesty’s loyal opposition. And why having President Blair rather than King Charles would undermine our whole constitution.

  16. Bazman
    August 17, 2013

    Bring back national service. OK we will.

  17. Monty
    August 17, 2013

    Surely the scenes in Egypt are demonstrating that the basic mechanisms of democracy are not enough. Democratic governments need strong constitutional limits on their powers, enforceable by an independant judiciary. Especially in the islamic world, where one man, one vote, once, has become commonplace.

  18. Mark B
    August 17, 2013

    In your article you used 494 words. And not one of them was the word, ‘coup’. In fact our Government, and indeed all the Governments’ in the so called democracy loving liberal states, refuse to use that word. Why ? Is it banned ?

    A state has the right to defend itself even from its own citizens. But a ‘democratically’ elected government has the express right to govern in the peoples name. It may be very unpopular, but no one other than the people (through the ballot box) has the right to change it.

    The issues in Egypt are a little more complex than in most democracies and, the Morsi Governments use of its powers were of real concern. But the international community should have been united in its condemnation or expression of concern and both privately, and publicly put pressure with an implicit threat of sanctions or travel restriction both, too and from Egypt.

    Egypt, and indeed many other fledgling nations around the world, have the benefit of learning through ours and others mistakes. We, on the other hand should be doing all we can to assist them with out telling them what to do.

    And here is my final point. Given the, shall we say interesting peculiarities of that part of the world (Middle East and North Africa), is it wise for us to be pressing for our form of democracy to be imposed upon them ? Whilst strong leaders that we do not like (Assad) may be in power, they do bring a semblance of stability and, ‘religious tolerance’.

    Reply The word coup is not banned, or if it is no-one told me. I used the phrase “state violence” because I was writing about the evolution of democracy more than I was writing about Egypt. I have only visited Egypt once and do not know the individuals involved in these current scenes of violence and bitter rows.

  19. Francis Lankester
    August 17, 2013

    The MB are (authoritarians ed). Their previous Supreme Guide declared that democracy is an alien man-made system against God’s will. The Egyptian Army crushing the MB (has to be seen in that context ed)

    Reply There are pro democracy MB people and some anti democracy supporters of the army.

  20. davidb
    August 17, 2013

    I dont disagree with what JR has written. I start from a set of principles. If a government is elected – as Mosi was with over 50% of the popular vote – then they have a mandate. If people dont like it, they can vote them out next time. If they dont have a “next time” then the armed forces have every right to remove them.

    I have heard reports of shortages of everything – food, fuel, power etc – in Egypt, which have overnight vanished now Morsi is gone. That seems a bit suspect to me. I have no time for religion of any sort ( get rid of the bishops in the lords ! ), but they were elected. What I read before the “revolution” – and particularly comments on the Economist – led me to suspect the Egyptian “spring” as being much to do with the Army being usurped by Mubarak’s son’s technocrats, and wishing to retain their previously privileged position. In a UK context imagine the resistance to say a Mrs T figure who wishes to end closed shops and monopolies by vested interests.

    Legitimacy is only conferred by election in my book.

  21. Demetrius
    August 18, 2013

    Oh dear, it was the local Manchester and Salford Yeomanry who did the damage and not the 15th Hussars. The Yeomanry were amateur troopers many of whom were the sons of publicans and the like. Letting them loose was rather like using Millwall fans to do the security at a West Ham United game.

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