No Politics is Local 57

Two friends of mine, one a Conservative and one a Liberal Democrat, both of whom live in London, were last weekend each volunteering for their parties, telephoning unfortunate voters in Cornwall, asking them to vote in today’s county council elections for their respective parties. The cordial hatred between the coalition partners seems focused particularly today on who controls Cornwall.

Whether this frenetic telephone activity does any good, or rather whether it achieves the desired end for the party, seems to me open to doubt. I am bemused by the apparent widespread concern on the Indian subcontinent for the state of my glazing. I think if I started getting phone calls from political parties, I would rip my phone out. Perhaps they do it more as a team building exercise to keep up morale among their own fast dwindling memberships, than for its effect on voters.

I suspect the days when local issues really effected local elections are in general behind us, sadly. What we have here is the same tired old national choice between three parties, whose policy differences are minute. All of them supported giving all your money to the rich bankers, and enabling them to play casino with it all over again. All of them support war and massive military spending. UKIP supporters probably want even more of the latter: less foreigners here, and more killing them elsewhere.

I suspect this will be a good day for Mr Farage. That will help still more people in Scotland to understand that Scotland is an entirely different type of body politic, has absolutely separate community values, from England. As I have opined before, in the medium term Scotland should leave the United Kingdom, in order to stay in the European Union.

I shall be speaking at the Edinburgh South launch of the Yes Scotland campaign on May 24th.

My very, very best wishes to Ingo the Independent in Norfolk!

57 thoughts on “No Politics is Local

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  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella)

    Fully agre with what Uzbek in the Uk said about ‘vertical power’ at 11h41 and that things are unlikely to be different in an independent Scotland.

    Passerby’s reaction (at 12h46) was vulgar and intemperate, but Uzbek in the UK’s later response saw him off quite nicely; I now also await Passerby’s answer to the question of how he defines democracy and whether he thinks there have been any periods of pure democracy in the UK in the past.

    Still on the egregious Passerby : he wrote

    “Ingo is an honourable man , and for certain he will give it his best shot. However, given the constraints, and the imperatives of the local gauleiters he may end up with disappointing results”

    and thus obviously belongs to that category of commenter who prepares his excuses for failure in advance. Nevermind will get a derisory vote, but this will not be because he failed to convince the voters with the brilliance and pertinence of his ideas but because of the machinations of the ‘gauleiters’ and the mysterious and unidentified ‘constraints’

    On to Cryptonym at 14h1O, who assures us that

    “In the long run Scotland will assuredly move towards more of a participatory democracy, rather then an entirely representative one, due to the all too apparent gross deficiencies of the party system,…”.

    Cryptonym is himself perhaps not too sure of his claim, as he talks about moving towards “more” of a participatory democracy. I wonder if Cryptonym would care to speculate a little on what that “more” might be – Swiss-style, the occasional referendum? or something else?
    I suspect, personally, that his certainty – inter alia for the reason mentioned by Uzbek in the UK – will prove unfounded.
    As unfounded, indeed, as Craig’s touching belief that

    “Scotland is an entirely different type of body politic…from England”.

    Not unless you believe that UK politicians of the stripe of Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, Douglas Alexander, Dr John Reid, Adam Ingram, Malcol Rifkind,,etc, etc, would have behaved any differently had they been politicians in an independent Scottish entity or, indeed, that they acted any differntly from ‘English’ politicians. Do you believe that, Craig?

  • John Polton

    Oh Here we go again!!! Once more your comenters on this blog reveal themselves as conspiracy nuts, disseminating ludicrous explanations for anything that occurs. Nosey and others assert that the reason for Habbercake’s continued postings, while on the run, is that he is in fact non other than Vadic Zabolotny, a known FBD asset, whose literary talents are being used to discredit the official narrative by posting blatent and obvious garbage in the guise of attacks on this blog’s nutters.

    Zabolotny’s Death was recorded in the autumn of 1996 in an orchard near Novokhopyorsk following an argument with a moose that was, according to eye-witnesses, “мертвецки пьяный” after comsumming rotten wind-fall apples all weekend. Even if this was not the case it is well known that Zabolotny, while lecturing at Volgograd’s elite State Institute of International Relations (VGIMO), once bored two students literally to death and caused the hospitalization of a further thirteen. It is outrageous and deeply offensive to claim this could be the same person who writes so with such passion and genius on this blog. If they took a few moments to consider Habbercake’s postings they would be forced by the sheer power of his irrefutable logic to abandon their irrational delusions.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella)

    April Showers, formerly known as “Mary”, writes at 13h40 :

    “And parish councillors, as a general rule, declare any financial or vested interest in a matter under discussion, so unlike most of the troughers in Westminster and in the county HQs.”

    I should be interested to hear Mary’s evidence for her assertion that only a minority of MPs declare any financial or vested interest in a matter under discussion.

    Can she back up that assertion, or is it merely something she assumes but presents as fact?

  • lysias

    If officials are randomly chosen, there is no need for any special procedures to ensure balance. Provided that the officials are actually chosen randomly, every segment of the population — race, sex, political views, whatever — will automatically, by the laws of statistics, be chosen in proportion to its representation in the population. (There can be small deviations from proportionality in single years, but those deviations are reduced the greater the number of people chosen, and any deviations will be balanced out in future years.)

  • Fedup

    Looky here, a proper ziofuckwit farrago in process. Who gives a flying fuck for the brain farts of any deranged ziofuckwit with delusions of grandeur?

    This resident ziofuckwit suffering from the usual case of sever obsessive compulsive syndrome, has taken upon itself to answer every post, busy reinforcing the corporate media narrative, ought to be using a mighty powerful cream to cure those chapped lips from all this sucking up.

  • Nextus

    Elections results depend so much on branding, and independent candidate don’t have develop a bran (unless on a single-issue protest vote). Somehow I doubt that the good – conservative (small ‘c’) – folks of Norfolk are going shatter the trend and condemn political analysts to a funk of bewildered confusion. But they really should – especially in this case.

  • Nextus

    Bah! So much for typing on a mobile phone with no real keyboard. I didn’t mean to talk about “bran”. I meant that independent candidates don’t have a chance to develop a brand. Mind you, I think in general that independents are generally higher in (moral) fibre content.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella)

    @ Lysias :

    “If officials are randomly chosen….”

    Wouldn’t that mean that people like Komodo, Nevermind, Jives, Fred and so on – and even, God forbid, English Knight, Guano, April Showers (aka Mary) and Cryptonym – might get chosen?

    Going on the quality of their posts, the mind boggles. Shades of Derek Hatton and Tommy Sheridan!

    On the other hand, though, it would mean that they would have to do something concrete instaed of ceaselessly bitching on about this, that and the next thing….

  • Sophie Habbercake

    Dad! Or should I call you Vadic.

    You always told us your funny accent was cos of a botched-up tonsilitis operation and mum’s stopped humming and all those black SUVs and vans are still waiting in the road.

    Mum says it would have been better than this if you had been mixed up in that Georgiev stuff after all and Adrian thinks Stoyan G’s going to reinvent himself as a half decent defender when he signs with Spartac Varna next season.

  • Daniel

    Excuse me for being cynical, but maybe the former UK embassadors pro-Independence stance is motivated by the possibility for lucrative regular employment. I cannot think of anybody more qualified for the role of Scottish ambassador than Mr Murray.

  • lysias

    Certainly, if officials are chosen randomly, some objectionable people will be chosen. But, if they serve in boards and legislative bodies with many members, their presence will be diluted by all the other people chosen.

    It was precisely for this reason that most official functions in Ancient Athens were performed by boards with several members. Juries and the upper legislative body, the Council (Boule), had even more members. And the lower legislative body, the Assembly (Ekklesia), could be attended by all adult male citizens, and in practice was attended by several thousand.

  • craig Post author


    Adult male citizens were, however, a highly educated elite. The clue is the word citizen there.

  • craig Post author

    The old Athenian system would be the equivalent of being governed by randomly selected old Etonians today. Oh…

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella)

    @ Lysias :

    “Certainly, if officials are chosen randomly, some objectionable people will be chosen. But, if they serve in boards and legislative bodies with many members, their presence will be diluted by all the other people chosen.”


    Which, in fact, sounds very much like what happens at the moment in Parliament and local authorities elected according to the present system?

  • Herbie

    “@ Lysias :

    “Certainly, if officials are chosen randomly, some objectionable people will be chosen. But, if they serve in boards and legislative bodies with many members, their presence will be diluted by all the other people chosen.”


    Which, in fact, sounds very much like what happens at the moment in Parliament and local authorities elected according to the present system?”


    No. It no longer happens. It happened to great extent in the post war period up until the late 80s early 90s, but today these people are chosen from small pools in which very similar fish swim.

    Much as happened in business. they’re managers whose power derives from and whose primary interest is in the larger shareholders.

  • Evgueni

    Узбек – you are right on the money. They talk about democracy here (the UK) like they know it. LOL!

    Even representative democracy (aka parliamentary rule, etc) could in principle be much more effective and responsive to the will of the people. And perhaps it is elsewhere, but here there exists a little-advertised quirk that renders it all but completely ineffective (no, I do not mean FPTP). UK MPs cannot choose what is debated and what legislation is voted on in Parliament. All such ‘framing’ is done by a small subset at the very top (PM & Cronies). That’s neat you see because they can make themselves look busy with all sorts of worthy discussion whilst carefully avoiding questions that would begin to address the fundamental injustice of absolute property (privatised land rent a la Proudhon and George), private monopoly on money supply, energy supply, etc. To use the word democracy to describe this system is the greatest slight of hand! And I haven’t even touched on the role of the MSM.

    This is the only way you can get around the Executive’s monopoly on debate:'s_bill
    A corruptible system is corrupting and in the end it is always corrupted.

    As for UKIP, any party that promises to “give power back to Westminster and to the people through binding national and local referenda and more effective, locally elected representatives” is patently better than the Consheviks, Labsheviks and Libdemsheviks.

  • Evgueni

    my understanding of the phrase ‘all politics is local’ is that local is not meant in the geographical sense but rather in a ‘that-which-matters-to-the-daily-life’ sense. When most policy that affects me directly is decided in London, I lose interest proportionately in my local parish and district politics. My interest in the politics of Ghana remains unaffected.

    Btw, I suspect ‘effected’ is a typo.

  • Evgueni


    ‘occasional referendum’ does not characterise Swiss political system well. My understanding is that the ballots take place quarterly and that there are usually several individual proposals to vote on. But that is neither here nor there, perhaps some people would still consider that to be infrequent.

    The important distinction however which is not made here, is that between a plebiscite, a mandatory referendum and an Initiative referendum. The plebiscite is of dubious value in a democracy and has indeed even been used to give legitimacy to despotic regimes. The most recent example of a plebiscite is the Falklands referendum. A mandatory referendum (e.g. triggered by a major change in legislation) is clearly democratic in intent. Initiative is the most democratising type of referenda – that’s when the question and the timing of the ballot originate from the people.

    To conflate plebiscite (the only type of referenda known to UK citizens) with mandatory and initiative referenda is missing a trick, I think. The Swiss Constitution excludes the use of the plebiscite btw.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella)

    @ Evgeni,

    sorry, on re-reading I see that I drafted in too much of a hurry: what I was trying to say was that “more” could be (1) Swiss style referenda (ie, frequent) or (2) the occasional referendum (France, Ireland..) or (3) something else.

    So I of course agree with your comment.

  • nevermind

    Although I failed to dislodge the Tory in my ward, the Conservatives have lost overall control over Norfolk CC. Ukip has gone from nothing to becoming nearly the second largest party and the BBC is talking up a coalition between UKIP and the Tory’s.

    Greatest loss was for Andy Gardiner who stood against Joe Mooney, a Tory who persuaded two other candidates to stand as Independent paper candidates. Ukip had the stated goal to rid Wymondham of the Tories, when in effect they saved their seat by standing against an Independent.

    Shall sit back and enjoy the post electoral blues with a little music and more gardening.

    Thanks for the debate, after witnessing 25% of the electorate taking part, only, and the immense costs of elections to the local coffers, demarchy sounds like a great idea.
    Some Tory I discussed this system with today, came back at me saying, ‘all very well, but you can’t opt to not vote with demarchy’.

    So what is so good about not voting, what is the ‘freedom’ part of not voting I’m not getting?

    My heart goes out to Andy Gardiner who was cheated out of a seat by two paper candidates, who then laughed and cajoled at the count, waved at him and goaded him.
    The Tories are still the largest bit of scum floating on the NCC broth, but 3/4 of the voters just can’t be bothered, and that’s on a sunny day.

    Postal voting is fraudulent, because 8 out of 10 people who had their sitting Tory come round hawking postal voting forms, feel obliged to vote for that lovely man who just enabled them to stay at home. Not having to go and vote with the plebs at the polling station is a right old ruse in rural areas.

  • Brendan

    As I live in Australia, I like to post the odd comment with an Oz angle. Here’s an interesting little tale from Sydney. Premier backs CCTV, no surprise. There clearly was a brief panic when a tribunal made a privacy ruling, but Premier BOF will doubtless legislate to ensure that privacy is made redundant again. I myself have slowly become horrified by how much of our lives are on camera. Literally, I’m on camera pretty much all day, unless I’m in my house. When CCTV was introduced, we’d get snippets of grainy black and white, and were were reassured it was only in hotspots. Now, of course, it’s everywhere, and I assure you (I’ve seen clips in my work) it’s colour, and a good definition, too.

    BOF of course won’t listen to the tribunal, because he doesn’t have to. And the council will be forced to switch CCTV back on, even as they were forced to switch if off in the first place, which is relevant to thread topic.

    BOF has form. Immediately on becoming Premier, he threatened to sack a council leader, a Green from Marickville. The council, you see, had threatened to boycott Israel. Whether BOF could sack the leader – who bear in mind was a green, not a liberal – was never challenged. I suspect that he couldn’t, and he knew it. But he got his way, and everyone caved. Interestingly, this issue was raised not long after BOF had met PM Gillard. I believe that the subject was raised, though this is not certain. The conspiracy minded might raise an eyebrow, for sure.

    Just 2 petty examples of how centralised power is. One might argue that this is as it should be, because councils are small fry, not responsible for the decisions of state. This may be true, of course, but Premiers and PM’s everywhere routinely talk the talk of local power, and localisation – until they actually do something naughty, at which point, well, it’s time for threats, isn’t it? Democracy is only respected insofar as it chimes with the interests of powerful people, and perhaps it was ever thus.

    An interesting side note. Assange as you know is running for Senator in Victoria. Early polls suggest that his Wikileaks party has a very good chance indeed. Which means, of course, that he has no chance at all. He’ll get screwed over; he always gets screwed over. I suspect other independent candidates will suddenly be ‘found’, or perhaps it’ll just be blatant vote rigging, maybe even the thought of Senator Assange will be the final straw and Hague will be allowed to say a few things by his handlers, and the embassy will mysteriously burn down. Who knows? I may get out and about and join the Wikileaks party, could be a laugh.

  • April Showers

    Brendan I see that O’Farrell launched Liberal Friends of Israel.

    The equivalent here is one Monroe Palmer, recently ennobled as Lord Palmer of Childs Hill.

    He is now carrying the Israel flag in the Lords and compares Palestine to Wales. I did not know that Wales was under occupation!’-anti-israel-bias-shocks-liberal-democrats-peer

    He and his wife are also councillors in Barnet Council in NW London. One of his fellow councillors, Brian Coleman, who ‘is a former Chairman of the Finchley Friends of Israel and remains a member of Conservative Friends of Israel’, was found guilty yesterday of assaulting a woman who was filming him parking illegally!

    He is a former member of the Greater London Authority. His type always seem to be able to work their way into local and national politics.

  • Richard Hancock

    Dear Craig,

    I would have voted U.K.I.P. in the local election were it not for the fact that only “Labour” and “Consevative” candidates stood. Thus I felt obliged to spoil my ballot paper. I understand that U.K.I.P. support(ed?) the banning of the burka, a move to which I am wholly opposed, but my main purpose in wishing to vote for them is the “closet racist”-type lingo launched against them by the political incumbents. I would vote for Atilla the Hun if I thought it would get up the nose of MilliClegEron. But I just wanted to assure you that I am certainly not in favour of military intervention in other people’s civil wars or in starting wars of our own. I wouldn’t have thought that all U.K.I.P. supporters were. Some may be, but them some probably drink their own bathwater and torture kittens in the cellar; who knows?

  • John Macadam

    Apropos the YesScotland meeting, I think you will find it is to be at the Columcille Centre [just down from the Dominion Cinema, Newbattle Terrace, Holy Corner, Edinburgh at 7.30 but doors open about 7

  • Levantine

    Lysias and Craig :

    „Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.“

    – winners of the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize in management science

    Ig Nobel Prizes are given each year for ten achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

    They used an agent-based model computer simulation for the promotion of employees and tested alternative strategies. “[W]e find, counterintuitively, that in order to avoid such an effect the best ways for improving the efficiency of a given organization are either to promote each time an
    agent at random or to promote randomly the best and the worst members in terms of competence.”

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