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2021-04-27

In these fraught days it is becoming more obvious with every twist and turn of the Great Covid Saga that we no longer live in a functional democracy, which I will loosely define here as our government by our representatives in Parliament. When we left the EU, Parliament assumed "sovereignty" under the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 in apparent contravention of the pre-EU constitutional settlement whereby our sovereign Monarch would appoint government ministers and Parliament would hold them to account on behalf of we the people. Was this a constitutional change by sleight of hand, or simply an ambiguity of wording?

So what of "democracy"? If we would aspire to a better form of government, then it behoves us to understand what we have now, and to define what kind of democracy we need, so that we will be in a position to suggest how we may change the system to get to where we want to be.

Clearly the existing system where we elect a political party to govern us is not a genuine democracy, because "our" MPs are beholden to their party whips, who in turn are beholden to their party's financiers. They are not for practical purposes beholden to us.

If financiers finance (or otherwise control) both the leading parties then they effectively control the government whatever the election result. In fact, they only need to control the party leadership.

These days one suspects that they may also control the Cabinet Office, which in its current seemingly all-encompassing form in effect controls the civil service. Since (most) ministers tiresomely have to be re-elected every few years, it would make sense to have a second string to their bow.

The Cabinet Office also oversees the activities of the UK Governance Group. It's not clear to me what this group does but I did find these links (Parliamentary Question, Blog) which may shed some light in what may be a dark corner.

We must also consider the activities of the Privy Council, which is mostly populated by our political classes and judiciary and operates in some ways as a kind of House of Lords for territories not part of the UK (Channel Islands etc).

So where are we today? What does "sovereignty of Parliament" actually mean? How are the changes in the Royal Family likely to impact on current arrangements?

In truth some of these questions as yet have no answers, but they do illustrate the complexities and ambiguities of our current form of government. Ambiguities that perhaps some may be tempted to use to effect change by the back door.

For a reminder of the definition, history and evolution of democratic government, visit the Democracy Defined Campaign. It's covers all the important points, and everybody will learn something useful.

For a short, more personal viewpoint of where we are today, see this article in Independence Daily (and Part 2 here).