I didn’t much care for Tony Benn, I refer not to the man but, to his politics. In my flawed opinion he was just another rich bloke on the the Left convincing poor people to vote for rich people by telling poor people that ‘other’ rich people are the reason that they are poor. However, I have discovered over the years that Mr Benn was not that shallow. That he was a great orator goes without saying, and if you aspire to everything Left Wing then, he is your champion. Some might say, a Chartist, in every sense of the word.
Above all else, Tony Benn believed passionately in Democracy. In Benn’s world Democracy was a gift from the electorate to Parliament and it is a sad indictment of our times that he spent over fifty years in that House fighting those of his fellow MPs whom he believed were abusing Democracy. That and his radical Leftist views probably cost him the leadership of the Labour Party.
It was because of his deep seated belief in Democracy that he so desperately campaigned against the European Union. It really beggars belief that his son, Hilary, is the polar opposite and defends the EU with unbridled passion.
Benn was, in his Parliamentary heyday, the epitome of radical Left thinking. He idolised Karl Marx and believed that the ‘Keynesian” system advocated by Margaret Thatcher was doing more harm than good to the country. He set out his beliefs in a book – Arguments For Socialism, (1979). He advocated, what he called “democratic socialism” which, were it to be implemented, would involve a large measure of public investment, public expenditure, and public ownership combined with self-management in the workplace, along with open (as opposed to secretive) government. All very noble but, and this is where I disagree with him, socialism has never been known to work. As Margaret Thatcher alluded, once other people’s money has run out socialism fails.
Given these strong Far Left views it is strange, therefore, that he held Democracy up as a beacon of hope. This was never made more clear than in a letter he wrote to his Bristol constituents in 1974. “Britain’s continuing membership of the Community would mean the end of Britain as a completely self-governing nation”.
On the subject of democracy and MPs, he is quoted as saying, aged 82 and on a platform with Austin Mitchell,
“Remember this, Members of Parliament are lent the powers of their constituents and they have to return those powers, undiminished, at the end. It is not for Members of Parliament to give away powers that were lent to them because they don’t belong to Members of Parliament. They belong to the electorate and there is a critical matter.”
There is a message in those words for todays Parliamentarians whom have collectively forgotten where their powers originated. It is sad, if not frightening, that those of us on the Right and Left are the ones accused of being undemocratic whilst those in power in the Centre are the actual abusers of Democracy. They are the ones asset stripping the country for a collective group of unelected officials in Brussels. They are the ones denying the electorate the Democratic powers that the electorate lent to them. They are the ones with the least to lose but the most to gain who are trying to bully the nation into submission.
To quote Tony Benn once again. “The Prime Minister is nothing but the Mayor of The Greater British Authority. Future Prime Ministers will no longer be able to do as they wish because all decisions will be made for them elsewhere.”
This was said in 2008 and we can see by Theresa May’s actions today that Benn hit the nail on the head. The decision for the UK to leave the European Union was never in the hands of the electorate, no matter the outcome of a referendum. The simple fact is, the European Union cannot afford for Britain to leave, they fear for the continued existence of the EU if the UK leaves. In their eyes it is a no brainer, whatever the cost, however long it takes, no matter how many referenda it takes, Britain is staying put.
The Liberal Democrats, once a bastion of Democracy and Christian beliefs in this country, are a classic example of how the Democracy that they once laid at the feet of the electorate like a red carpet of virtue and Britishness has been eschewed for a false Utopia laid before them by unelected, uncaring bureaucrats in a foreign land. For these arrogant self-seekers the result of the 2016 referendum means nothing. In their small minds it was only a narrow margin of defeat for the Europhiles and should be held again, and again, and again, and again until that narrow margin is reversed and they get the result that they so desperately want. Is it any wonder that Mr Benn was not alone in his contempt for these neoliberal ne’er-do-wells who put Party and principle before the electorate.
I have heard the word ‘experiment’ bandied about quite often when people talk about the European Union. Believe me, this is no experiment. It is a carefully thought out scheme which was drafted over 75 years ago by Nazi zealots as a safeguard for the possibility that they might lose the War. The ‘Federal Republic of Europe’ is very real and very dangerous. It flies in the face of Democracy and exploits the greed of those in power in member states in order to perpetuate lies upon which this behemoth was built. The people are of no consequence and neither are countries and boundaries. The only thing that matters to these faceless bureaucrats is that membership is for life. There is no get out clause, none that they allow to work anyway.
The only way to defeat them is to play them at their own game. Unfortunately our current batch of leaders either do not know the game or how to play it. What is being played out in front of us is more than a farce, it is a tacit lesson in defiance. The complete and abject refusal of those we trusted when we lent them the powers that they now wield is indecent and we should hold them all in contempt.
‘Give them a bloody nose at the next General Election.’ I hear you say. All very well but as Tony Benn was won’t to observe the two-party system has been ingrained upon the electorates psyche for too long and the Tories and Labour Party Spin Doctors know this only too well. To give them a ‘bloody nose’, the various single issue Parties, the so-called Far Right, must forget their differences and unite in their attempt to gain the publics trust and, more importantly, their vote. No mean task but a necessary one if those of us who value freedom and Democracy want to succeed.