Friday, 18 December 2015

New Statesman letter on Tory democracy

George Eaton appears surprised by the Tories` "battery of measures to weaken the opposition and to reduce executive responsibility", especially as they entail an all-out offensive against democracy (Politics,11th December). Just because Cameron churns out his mantra about democracy being a "core British value", and its protection abroad being a key reason for intervention, does not mean his government and party give it anything other than token and perfunctory support. Indeed, history reveals how the Tories only ever accepted the 19th century expansion of the suffrage when it was clear that reform acts would reduce the threat of revolution, as in 1832, or possibly benefit them in the polls, as in 1867. Cameron, with his constituency boundary changes, reduced "Short money" and a "new system of individual electoral registration" is simply carrying on a long-held Tory tradition.
     By contending that the government is not repeating Labour`s "error of inaction", Eaton ignores another Tory anti-democratic device; doing nothing to utilise modern technology in the voting procedure also illustrates their desire to limit the level of democracy in this country. When millions use their phones or tablets to vote every week for ballroom dancers or whatever, and when billions of pounds safely change hands in internet deals, government refusals to experiment with online voting, claiming it to be too insecure, beggar belief. Even moving polling booths to city centres, supermarket car-parks or university campuses appears to be too risky, when the only danger clearly is that many more will be incentivised to vote. Democracy, it seems, is only an aspiration for countries under dictatorships, but what does a country effectively become, when its government is intent on limiting democracy, and encouraging only its own supporters to exercise their statutory rights?

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