It’s funny how Tories like to say the Labour Party would have us all doing as “Comrade (at the moment) Ed” tells us – and then gets back to whittling away our democratic rights, sometimes by huge chunks at a time.
Today the BBC is reporting that our right to challenge government policies is to be limited. Planning is the area that is singled out for closer examination but my reading of this is that any branch of government may use this stick to beat the plebs.
Opponents will have less time than the current three months to apply for judicial review of policies they oppose, will face higher fees (so that means most of us won’t have a chance), and will have our chances of appealing against a decision halved from four to two.
Cameron is trying to tell us this is to prevent time-wasting and boost the economy, but gave himself away when he said “We urgently need to get a grip on this” – he means he wants to tighten his grip on democracy and choke it hard.
The Beeb tells us Downing Street figures showed that more than 11,000 applications for judicial review were made in 2011, compared with 160 in 1975. Around one in six applications was granted. One-sixth of 11,000 is 1,833, which implies – to me – that more than 11 times as many judicial reviews are successful now as in 1975. That’s good for democracy. The people get to have their say.
Cameron wants to stop this.
Is this really the action of the Party of Freedom and of Choice?
Of course not.
It is appalling that he has chosen to compare the present day with the fight against Hitler – when he himself is behaving more like the German dictator every day.
He was expected to tell the Confederation of British Industry today (Monday) that “Whitehall underwent a revolution” in wartime. “We need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ – and we need to throw everything we’ve got at winning in this global race.”
But we are not living in wartime, no matter how much he might like to push that on us. We aren’t even living in hard times, when you consider how he has handed more than £30 billion in tax breaks to the rich and large corporations, while talking about economic crisis to justify victimising the poor, the sick and disabled.
The changes he cites were reversed after the war ended. And his mention of Hitler is Tory doubletalk. He’s hoping that, by using the fight against one of history’s vilest dictators as his comparison, we won’t realise he’s attacking democracy, not increasing it.
What a miserable little underhanded goblin he is.
The reaction on Twitter is negative, of course. “Be wary of any government which wants to remove the legal means of you challenging its decisions and abuses of power. Worrying,” tweeted David Green (aka Jack of Kent).
Tom Doran agreed: “It’s a strange kind of small-government philosophy that makes it harder, not easier, to appeal government decisions.”
And Denis Skinner, who provided the picture for this article, tweeted sarcastically: “Whitehall “circumvented”, crackdown on “time wasting” legal challenges to planning decisions. The leader knows best.”
We can all see that, even if he does know what’s best, he’s ignoring it in favour of his obsession with shrinking the state. Fewer appeals means smaller government. The trouble – for us – is that the nation as a whole will suffer from hastily-made, ill-judged decisions based on a drive for short-term profit. It’s practically written into his CBI speech.
Cameron is not a prime minister for the nation – he’s a puppet for big business. We’ve seen that most prominently in his all-out attack on the National Health Service in England, which is now just a big sack of blood on which the corporate vampires are happily sucking.
Other cutbacks are hacking British society into a bloody mess as well. As state services withdraw, my understanding is that the people are expected to take up the slack. That’s Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in action. But ordinary people don’t know how those state services work – they were never taught it at school and they can’t be expected to absorb it by osmosis.
So services are lost, entropy sets in and chaos increases. I predict an increase in frustration and stress, leading to a rise in lawlessness. The police – another target for cuts – will not be able to cope. What will Cameron do then? Martial law?
And so the march to totalitarianism gains pace.