Government needs consent

“Government of the people, by the people and for the people” was Lincoln’s immortal description of democracy, as he gazed on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

This government would do well to rediscover that.

They have picked a fight with too many largely law abiding people.
They have politicised the police.
They have created a nasty surveillance society, eavesdropping and spying on the normally law abiding.
They have picked a fight with too many MPs, on their own side as well as across the Chamber, by their juvenile and unpleasant spin.
They have undermined that mutual respect and support for our society and its traditions and conventions that keeps the social fabric together.
They have badly damaged our freedoms and our democracy.

When people no longer think their system of government is safe in the hands of an incumbent government, it is time for that government to go.


  1. Mark Brentano
    April 15, 2009

    As always, you sight your targets squarely. But are you absolutely confident that a Tory administration would reverse or substantially alleviate the ills you list? I’m still not convinced that NuLabour and NuConservative are not two off-centre wings of an all-embracing NuSocialist Party.

    1. rik
      April 15, 2009

      I concur, well written as always and my fear is the same. Will the conservatives reverse all the decisions cited. Especially the insidious resentful surveillance society which has been created.

      Reply: Let’s hope so. They will make a good start by scrapping ID cards and the Big Brother computer that goes with them.

      1. Adrian Peirson
        April 16, 2009

        Here’s an Interesting Commenary on the reason behind ID Cards, apparently our Elites think of us in the same way as a Farmer thinks of Cattle.
        It’s nothing personal you understand, they are just being practical.

  2. Bill
    April 15, 2009

    I entirely agree with your sentiments. I have felt much the same about this government for years; the tragedy is that it has taken for too long for people to wake uoi to what they were about. I only hope it is not too late to stop and revferse their actions.

    1. alan jutson
      April 15, 2009

      Agree with your comments.
      Do I detect that some Conservatives Mp’s are now starting to get angry.
      If so its about time.
      Has the penny finally dropped with some MP’s (of all Parties) that a vast number of people of this Country are simply disgusted with they way Labour have abused their power during the last 11 years.
      If so then perhaps there is still some hope for the future.

  3. Jack Savage
    April 15, 2009

    I wonder whether a Conservative government would do anything to unpick the surveillance society, and de-politicise the police.
    Somehow, I rather doubt it. Take down those CCTV cameras? In “terrorist-riddled” Britain? I do not think so. The Police are pretty much beyond political control now. They have their own expansionist agenda. What would the Conservatives do about ACPO? No Government now can do anything but appease the police.
    You are a voice crying in the wilderness. This country needs a benign dictatorship to get us out from under career politicians. If it cannot be Jeremy Clarkson it will have to be you.

  4. Colin D.
    April 15, 2009

    Worst of all, the government has simply handing over much of our remaining independence to the EU without seeking any mandate from the people. Brown’s ‘red lines’ around the Lisbon treaty are shown to be meaningless as the EU diplomatic corps prepares to take over, with or without brave Ireland’s sign off.

    1. SJB
      April 15, 2009

      The German Constitutional Court ruling, expected next month, may throw a spanner in the works. The Court may require the Lisbon Treaty to be endorsed by the German people in a referendum.

  5. Jack Savage
    April 15, 2009

    Just checked Chris Graylings policies and proposals. He believes in strengthening the Police Force. The process of “criminalising” almost everybody as a means of social control will go on under any future government. It is too irresistable a project. Parliament and especially Europe will go on producing legislation to justify their existences. Why do people think that what will really improve society is more laws?
    “Beware the fury of a patient man”

  6. Amanda
    April 15, 2009

    So who is going to set up a vote of no confidence?

  7. Mark M
    April 15, 2009

    “They have politicised the police” – Sadly not in a good way.

    I’ve had multiple conversations regarding Dan Hannan’s elected police chiefs that have gone along the lines of

    “We should elect police chiefs. That way the people get a say in police activities”
    -“But you’d risk politicising the police”
    “You mean they aren’t already?”

    The problem isn’t actually politicised police. It is government controlled police. The police should be there to enforce the laws government pass. Our police force is currently here to enforce the laws Labour want them to enforce, monitored through a tick-box culture. If a police chief chose to ignore his tick boxes and focused on what local people actually wanted you can be sure he would be out the door for failing to meet his targets, however happy people were with the policing.

  8. Blank Xavier
    April 15, 2009

    Amen to that.

    All contracts must be voluntary and well-informed; the only exception is in self-defence.

    The extent to which a Government violates this principle is the extent to which it is authoritarian, undemocratic and unfree.

    Dare I say but that the whole point of Labour is the utilization of non-volunary contracts to do “what is best for people”.

  9. Adrian Peirson
    April 15, 2009

    It’s not Gordon’s fault really, he is only doing as his masters tell him to :-

    How the Banksters have Declared War on the World,
    Hyperinflation here we come.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    April 15, 2009

    Brown’s description of democracy: “Government of the people, by me and for me”. We can’t wait another year to be rid of this despicable man.

  11. April Ryan
    April 15, 2009

    Arrest of 114

    I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would ever be typing this, having always had the utmost respect for the police and the difficult job that they do. However, I have personally witnessed (even in my little backwater) more than enough recently to have become utterly disillusioned by the process of ‘law’ in this country.

    This latest assault on democracy i.e. the arrest of 114 people, who have committed no crime, on a charge of “conspiracy” to commit the crime of aggravated trespass comes at the same time that the newspapers are reporting that the police will no longer automatically move on travellers who move onto and set up camp on private land. Now correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t that aggravated trespass?

    So at the end of the day it’s not about upholding the law it’s about what is expedient for the government.

    oh and don’t forget that in order to ‘protect’ themselves from us (i.e. the public) the police have now taken to hiding their ID numbers when on active ‘anti-protest’ duty.

    1. mikestallard
      April 15, 2009

      The (policeman-ed) who attacked that woman yesterday on TV, black leather gloves and all, could have come straight out of the 1930s.

    2. Brian E.
      April 15, 2009

      I, too, am concerned about the arrest of the 114 people, but as a retired electrical engineer, I am more concerned about saboteurs putting a major power station out of action. Such action, at one of our major power stations could cause a domino effect, knocking out power over most of the country with drastic consequences, not only for the general public and industry, but also for hospitals and similar emergency services.
      This happened recently in Europe, when a large part of the Danish wind power generation failed due to a sudden unexpected drop in wind. Virtually all of mainland Europe was affected, and the situation was only saved by the Austrians being able bring a major hydroelectric station back into sevice from maintenence.

      Much as I regret it, if these people were believed to be planning major sabotage of this nature, I think the police were correct in their actions.

  12. Robert
    April 15, 2009

    Yes we are lucky that Thatcher did not use the Police, whoops of course she did at the miners strike, all New labour has done is carry on with Thatcherism, so you telling us what the New labour Thatcherist did, well we have seen it before mate I(words left out).

  13. Brian E
    April 15, 2009

    The duty of an opposition party is to criticize or oppose legislation being brought in by government. However, as far back as I can remember, it is extremely rare for an opposition party, when they get into government to actually repeal or significantly amend the legislation they so vehemently opposed whilst in opposition.

    I hope that the conservatives will now be different, but my betting is that more than 95% of Labour legislation will still be in force after 5 years of Tory government.

    1. Susan
      April 15, 2009

      Depressingly, I agree with you, BE. Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell have proposed a Grand Repeal Bill to be enacted within the first month of a Conservative govt but there’s been no reaction from the top and I very much doubt it will be taken up.

      Reply: I made my proposal for a Great repeal Bill party policy for the 22005 election, so don’t be so defeatist. They are goign to need a great repeal Act to cut costs in the way the markets are liekly to force.

      1. Susan
        April 15, 2009

        Thank you for the clarification, Mr R; I am cheered by the news.

  14. Nick
    April 15, 2009

    It’s tough. Look at the recent G20 demo. The citizen is now filming the state, and the state is being shown up for what it is.

    Personally, I record my conversations with the state.

    You’ve got more to lose from us turning the tables than vice versa.

    That’s why you are trying to make it illegal for a citizen to film illegal acts by policemen.

    1. figurewizard
      April 15, 2009

      Absolutely right. The two incidents recorded at the G20 demonstrations are important reminders that any law prohibiting filming of the police in public is potentiially a gross devaluation of our civil rights. The Conservative party must recognise that people perceive that their freedoms have been insiduously eroded under this government over the last ten years and take a leaf out of David Davies’s book come the next election.

  15. oldrightie
    April 15, 2009

    Lucid and excellent post. I despair of the “they’re all the same ” argument. This Government is possibly the worst in the history of the UK. Anything but anything would be better. Let’s at least have a go. Blogging is a terrific check on the power hungry, as is poverty.

  16. Donitz
    April 15, 2009

    Remind me, does Brown have public mandate to govern?

    Is he the only unelected prime minister we have ever had?

    At least Major had the honour to go to the polls and win when he took over without public election.

    Brown like most socialists has no spine.

    I cannot express enough the venom and bitterness I feel towards this government. I had more respect for Michael Foot(Ho,ho).

    1. Confused & Angry
      April 15, 2009

      No, James Callaghan was never elected. The only election he fought, he lost – to Margaret Thatcher.

  17. chris southern
    April 15, 2009

    Most of the powers of the state need returning to the people, this you are bang on John. The problem is, most politicians won’t give up the power that a goverment can now wield.
    ACPO won’t volountarily give up the powers/revenue that they wield.

    If the concervative front bench realy wants to make changes, then it will have to give up many of the powers that winning an election will give them. That’s where the doubt of any change creeps in, as most changes aren’t possible within th EU.

  18. Simon
    April 15, 2009

    I agree with everything you say but am not conviced that a Conservative administration would change much. We should be hearing from David Cameron daily about all these abuses. After all it amounts to an open goal for him. I find it quite sinister that the Tory leadership rarely speaks up about any of the terrible goings on that are a daily feature of our lives now. Every day as I drive about I hear of more nasty legislation, rules and diktats. I rarely hear any Tory objections to them.

    Just look at the reaction Daniel Hannan’s speech got recently, people are crying out for some form of leadership in opposition. The only thing Cameron is notable for is his silence.

    1. mikestallard
      April 15, 2009

      Could this be because he is a gentleman who has excellent manners? If your enemy is down, you do not put the boot in.
      Maybe at the election, the manifesto will reflect the outstanding ideas that were ruined by the announcement of the recession (bang in the middle of the Conservative Party Conference, naturally).
      At that point, I sincerely hope, the fist will be put, by the people of this damaged and very angry country, right in between the eyes.

      1. Simon
        April 15, 2009

        I used to think that maybe Cameron was so self confident that he didn’t feel the need to constatly attack Labour and would, as you describe, come up with some outstanding ideas at some point. Sadly, I no longer subscribe to that school of thought as I have seen our local Tory Council in action. Packed full of overpaid jobsworths who seem hellbent on ordering as much spying equipment as is humanly possible to harass us with. Losing money in Icelandic banks and then arrogantly trying to blame their advisors. Plus other Tory Councils have been amongst the worst abusers of the RIPA laws for spying on people.

        Cameron surely lays down guidelines as to how these councils behave and from what I see it is not encouraging. Tory Councils should be beacons of freedom in these times. Instead, shamefully, they are precisely the opposite.

        Reply: The Conservative Leader does not interfere in the actions of Conservative Councils. Some like Hammersmith and Fulham (Council Tax down three years running) and Westminster (second year of Council Tax freeze) show what can be done on public spending if you try.

        1. mikestallard
          April 16, 2009

          Cambridgeshire isn’t that bad either.

  19. Chris H
    April 15, 2009

    It is more than time Labour got the boot; problem is, since Brown refuses point-blank to go to the country now, it drags the time out till 2010….unless some major revolution occurs.
    The other thing is, whatever party takes office, the people in it will have to submerge any personal career-desires, in favour of serving the people and getting the country out of its pickle. Once self-serving attitudes dominate at the high levels, the situation is just perpetuated under a different party-colour.

    There is now a fast-moving current towards control of the masses, not just here but in America, Europe and beyond. I have noticed an enormous increase in this tempo in just the past two years. People are slowly submitting themselves to techno- and psycho-slavery; due to apathy, pig-ignorance or a feeling of total helplessness. This is precisely what governments want; control by fear….most of us will have read the BBC’s article yesterday “are we more fearful?”.
    If people did but wake up and realise that there are several billions of US but only several thousands of THEM, the tables could be turned in almost the blink of an eye. It needs a major move in mass consciousness.

  20. Slim Jim
    April 15, 2009

    I do think that the Conservatives must spell out their plans for the future of law and order and the criminal justice system with all its current flaws. I see no contradiction in stating that there will be a thorough review of the statute book (with a view to trimming it substantially), with sorting out the way we deal with those who are guilty of breaching the law. In other words, you could propose to reduce the number of Acts, etc. (remember around 3609 new pieces of legislation since 1997), and ensure that justice, punishment, and rehabilitation are fair and transparent enough to secure public confidence, and the rate of recidivism reduced.

    The elephants in the room are the EU and the HRA. Dare you?

  21. Confused & Angry
    April 15, 2009

    As always your analysis is spot on, but I remain unconvinced that the Conservative Party is truly committed to rolling back the surveillance society and repealing the last decade’s worth of Labour’s malicious & instrusive authoritarian legislation.
    (I would, of course, be more than happy to draft this part of the manifesto for them!).
    Has there ever be a modern British government which so thoroughly despised the electorate?
    Sadly, the systematic abuse of power by Labour has demonstrated that whilst constitutional conventions are all very well when everyone understands and respects them, when you have a government which fails to deal with others in good faith, is historically illiterate, wilfully ignorant of the delicate balance of powers, and openly contemptuous of tradition, there is a need for wholesale constitutional reform to prevent a recurrence.
    If the system cannot function on the basis of long established but unwritten checks and balances, then we need entrenched protections against government oppression.
    I look with increasing envy at the USA.
    Perhaps if Tory folk like yourself and Dominic Raab are allowed to have their way, things will be improved.
    However, the damage done to the cause of liberty by the likes of Jacqui Smith (however did such a low calibre individual become Home Secretary?) will take a generation to repair.

  22. tim holden
    April 15, 2009

    A weak and complicit press has compounded the problem. And the BBC as an organ of The Party’s propoganda has played a major role in fulfilling an Orwellian vision.

  23. Denis Cooper
    April 15, 2009

    “Government of the people, by the people and for the people”

    is what Lincoln said at Gettysburg in November 1863.

    Less well known are the words he used in an earlier speech, his Address to Congress on July 4th 1861, entitled here “A War to Preserve the Union”:

    “And this issue embraces more than the fate of the United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy – a government of the people by the same people – can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes.”

    “A government of the people by the same people”, not by other peoples.

    Which is why no EU institution can be “democratic”, and in fact it must be anti-democratic, until such time as all the separate peoples across the EU regard themselves as substantially one people, “the same people”.

    I don’t expect that to happen for many generations, if ever; and in the meantime if we continue down the path of the last half century national democracy will be utterly destroyed, and supplanted by a transnational process which glibly presents itself as “democratic”, simply because votes are cast and counted, but which nonetheless can’t possibly be “democratic” in the absence of a unified “demos”.

  24. mikestallard
    April 15, 2009

    Two glimmers of hope:
    1. Dear old Boris Johnson in London has already cancelled a lot of the Labour loony stuff. the Police at least have been changed, at least at the top. Aren’t some of them getting out of the target system too or did I mishear?
    2. If I were a decent, old fashioned Labour person (like Frank Field?), I would be weeping over the mess that my party had got us into. I would be in despair that the party of Clement Attlee was being led by Derek Draper and the disgraced Lord Peter Mandelson. I would be incandescent about the expenses, lies and fiddles of the top politicians. I would be horrified at the snide attacks on Mrs Osborne who had deliberately kept right out of politics. I would certainly be wondering if the only reason that Gordon Brown was “elected” unopposed was because my fellow MPs were worried about being pilloried by the slanderers at No 10 Downing Street. I think we can await the revolt very shortly. P45s are not a nice experience. Remember Michael Portillo’s face?

  25. Brian E.
    April 15, 2009

    “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” was, as you say, Lincoln’s immortal description of democracy.
    Didn’t Sir Robert Peel say something similar about policing at the time that the Metropolitan Police Force was set up? Something about to the effect that “policing can only be carried out with the broad consent of the majority of the people being policed”.
    This is something that both the government and the police forces have lost sight of, and regrettably the adherence of the police to rules and regulations, combined with government targets, is causing them to be despised amongst large parts of the population whom would normally expect to be supportive of their actions. The sooner we return to common sense policing under local, non-political control, the better.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 15, 2009

      I expect you’re thinking of the Nine Principles of Policing, often attributed to Peel, which are a good guide to what needs to be done to reverse the damage caused by this government. I believe that many police officers would welcome their reinstatement.
      The Nine Principles of Policing

      1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

      2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

      3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

      4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

      5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

      6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

      7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

      8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

      9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

  26. Johnny Norfolk
    April 15, 2009

    I cannot understand why it has taken people so long to see through labour. I suppose there is a whole new generation who believed that Labour could do everything for them.
    Labour can only spend our money, they never have a wealth creating country.

    They have governed by false promises and fear.

    Just how bad will it get before we are rid of them.

  27. Cynic
    April 15, 2009

    Considering that one of Thatcher’s legacies was the politicising of the Police force, I have no confidence that another Conservative government would do anything at all about these issues.

    I pray to G-D that I’m proved wrong when they get in at the next election.

  28. Blank Xavier
    April 15, 2009

    There is nothing I want more than to see this Labour Government removed from power.

    For all that they have done, I am thoroughly depressed and miserable as hell. What they have done to *freedom* profoundly disturbs me – I am frightened at what has emerged in the UK, the way the police have turned into an oppressive force, violating privacy and justice, the way the State has turned into a dictator, running peoples lives, taking their money.

    I would *love* it if this affair toppled them – but I am afraid it will not be until the very last possible date, when an election is called, that we will be rid of them.

  29. RicksRants
    April 16, 2009

    John you speak the truth. however can you honestly say that a Tory regime will give us our freedom back. that they will dismantle the CCTV spies that have not cut crime, that they will restore law and order, they will stop immigration.

    I doubt it. Why? Because looking at all politicians the world over there is not one that I trust. I rate politicians lower than estate agents and lawyers.

    You all talk the talk when out of power, but then power corrupts and it is the same person ruling us but with a different face.

    Reply: I do think the Conservatives will control immigration much more tightly, will scrap ID cards and will cut some cameras out, as some Conservative Ciouncils are doing.

  30. Blueplanet
    April 16, 2009

    John you obviously understand the problem. What I don ‘t yet fully appreciate is why the Conservatives having been campaigning on this issue. In fact so little has been said, except possibly by David Davis, that I’m not convinced that your party fully understand the severity of the problem. John, you do, so would you spread the word to David Cameron et al that rolling back the surveillance state is an election winner?

  31. Steve Baker
    April 21, 2009

    Hear, hear! It is time for that government to go, and it is time for a wholly different approach.

    At a friend’s request, I spoke recently to her sixth form class on “The Spell of Plato”, making Plato’s philosophy relevant today. As the title suggests, I used Popper’s critique of Plato’s philosophy — “The Open Society and its Enemies” — to explore these two propositions:

    – Government ought to control us to ensure social, political and economic justice.
    – We ought to control ourselves within the law to ensure freedom and progress.

    We discovered that Plato’s Spell — his plan for building the perfect state in which every citizen is really happy — was at the root of some of the worst governments in history and we explored the echos of his philosophy in today’s political debate. We discussed Popper’s conclusion:

    “We must go on into the unknown, the uncertain and insecure, using what reason we may have to plan as well as we can for both security and freedom, asking whether we should look to the state for every answer or whether we should take responsibility ourselves for making the world a better place.”

    Popper was a reformed Marxist. He had not always opposed resting in the embrace of the state to ensure security, but he realised that to do so leads to disaster.

    I believe I created in that hour, six new believers in freedom and responsibility: rebels against well-meaning soft totalitarianism. It can certainly be done; the question is whether it can be done in time to transform the country.

    I dare to hope that David Cameron’s vision of a post-bureaucratic age and the CSJ’s welfare society can be carried through radically. In such circumstances as these, surely to be Conservative, one must be radical?

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