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People Power
Publication date: 2007-06-24

Can People Power Cure Democracy?

There is some talk nowadays in Britain about People Power.

But don't we, in Britain, already have People Power, or to use the Greek word “Democracy” (demos = people, kratia = power).

The British Government is already elected by the People, and is expected to govern in the Interests of the People.

We already have an institution representing the Will of the People — the Parliament. And we have an Independent Legal System which protects the People from Injustices by considering facts and applying to them Principles of Law.

So why is this talk about the need for “People Power”?

Is it not just another case of rebranding, that is changing a name to make a product, which has fallen out of favour with the Public, more attractive?

Has Democracy become so unattractive that it needs to be rebranded as “People Power”?

And if it has, then why has it become so unattractive?

Because the past decades have shown without any doubt that Democracy while allowing to change governments at regular intervals does not ensure that the elected governments are sufficiently competent and honest and will not abuse their powers. And, while the government is elected by the People and is expected to govern in accordance with their wishes, in reality those elected end up by governing in accordance with their own personal wishes, often against the interests of the people as a whole. And at present there are no adequate ways of preventing and correcting wrong government decisions. Those who are elected to be servants of the people in practice becomes their masters.

But this had to be expected, because the concept of “Democracy” (that is “People Power”) is misleading. It suggests that the People in general can govern a country (or some other area of governance) in accordance with their wishes. But by its very nature the activity of government cannot be performed by the People in general. Nor can the activity of government be performed satisfactorily by following anybody's wishes — it needs to be guided by necessity and impartial and objective rules and principles.

The root cause of the problem of wrong government decisions is not in who takes government decisions, or how many people are involved in taking these decisions, but in how these decisions are taken. The problem is not in the Constitutional Structure of the British Government (the Parliament and the Legal System), but in the way the Institutions of Government operate, and the relationship between these institutions.

Today Parliament can pass any law and government officials can make any decisions, no matter how absurd, unjust or unworkable. And, if such laws or decisions cause injustice to any person or group of people, they will not be able to redress such injustice through the Legal System1.

The reason for this inability of the Institutions of State to provide honest, competent and just government is that the decisions within these institutions are made on the basis of opinions (that is personal views) of government officials, rather than on the basis of impartial and objective consideration of facts and application to them of objective principles.

And this failure of today's Democracy cannot be corrected by rebranding Democracy as “People Power”, or by involving more, or different, people in the decision making process. Nor can it be corrected by adopting a Constitution, a Bill of Rights, or another Human Rights Act, because existence of such documents in itself does not prevent wrong decisions by government officials. The only way to ensure that government decisions are correct, is to replace opinion‐based decision‐making with decision‐making based on formal logical proof from prime principles.

And this requires a reform of the Legal System, of the process of Parliamentary scrutiny of proposed legislation, and of the process of decision making by government officials at every level of government.

The problem of political government cannot be solved by more politics, or by different politics. It can only be solved by removing politics from government.

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1) In a recent High Court case an applicant has shown that the Planning Inspector had failed to show sufficient Public Interest to justify refusal of a planning permission. The judge accepted that the planning decision was wrong, but found that it is not unlawful for a Planning Inspector to make a wrong decision, and for that reason was unable to quash the decision. From this case it follows that wrong decisions by a Planning Inspector cannot be corrected.

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