Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter


Living in a lawless land

When we hear that popular trope that mature democracies destroy themselves, our thoughts tend to immediately scurry to military coups culminating in the installation of a dictator, of manufactured right-wing unrest ending in the accession to the seat of power of the one single person who instigated that unrest in the first place. But it’s not like that – we’re witnessing, in the Developed World and in the UK in particular, a different kind of destruction of democracy, a creeping destruction centred around the studied ignoring of the law whilst pretending to be following the law to the letter.

Perceived wisdom was that the UK’s First Past The Post two party system with elections at most five years apart was the best way to prevent extremism, but the past few years have shown that this is not the case. The SDP, and then the Liberals with the SDP as part of it, almost broke the mould, and were on the cusp of greater things when Clegg decided not to go into coalition with Labour but the Tories instead, and managed to destroy that faint seed of hope with the betrayal of young people over tuition fees (and more, like not opposing austerity). And now we’re living in times when both main parties are so alike each other in their extremism that voters are actually powerless right now to change things. Yes, the small breakaway TIG might facilitate some short-term change in atttudes, but most of that is cosmetic and not real.

When I was a teenager, I was always fascinated and confused by my parents’ blind adoration of the Royal Family, along with millions and millions of other English people. I just couldn’t understand it. As I grew older and more mature, I did start to understand it in some way. This nation has always been in the grip of the wealthy property-owning class. (Actually, as an aside, the English class system always baffled me, too, until I realised that it’s no different to any other caste system in the world). And that property-owning class has always had the will and the wherefore to ensure that things ran in its favour, that it would always be in that position where it could suppress those who had to work hard for a living and had precious little time to do anything but that, least of all agitate for change.

This is the parallel of what I’ve always described as the German Fuehrer complex, the absolute desperate need to have a leader who doesn’t necessarily proceed by consensus, but leads so others don’t need to put their head over the parapet (when I lived in Germany, even the Alternative wanted and needed a charismatic leader rather than anything else to feel they were succeeding). At least this perceived complex is only a cult of personality (this is how Merkel has become the beloved matriarch because her actions have been charismatic rather than her). At least Germany has Proportional Representation to allow many leaders in their parliament and prevent in some way the taint of extremism.

The UK has a parellel to this, and it is what I call the Class Complex. The problem is that it runs deeper than most people perceive. It is a complex based on self-loathing, on the belief of the less well-educated and less well-off, that the property-owning class, the privately-educated class, the Upper Class, is superior in all ways, and that, in effect, anyone with a posh accent, a posh education, and privilege, is better than anyone else. And, like it or not, the private schools, the private hierarchies, teach confidence, the confidence to tell lies without anyone else realising. This is why this class run the country, why even Labour governments have been nothing but a temporary illusion of change, ultimately hampered by Upper Class civil servants, Upper Class mainstream media (and that’s not just the BBC, although the BBC has been the main media culprit in facilitating Brexit), Upper Class employers. And it’s not just established money that’s Upper Class – people continually buy their way into that upper tier. Note, too, the fact that the UK has no written constitution works in their favour. Note, too, that Magna Carta wasn’t actually valid for very long, and that all it actually did was devolve some power from monarch to the Upper Class of its time. So it didn’t actually create a freer society. Nor did it create a system of laws that even the rich have to adhere to.

This leads me to the state this nation is currently in.

An advisory referendum on whether or not the UK should remain in the European Union was set up by a Prime Minister losing control over his already right-wing party. That Prime Minister’s government then proceeded to illegally claim that the result of this advisory referendum would be honoured by the government whilst at the same time not putting into place safeguards such as a super-majority or a minimum turnout, as well as disenfranchising vast swathes of UK citizens (including but not limited to overseas citizens, and 16-17-year-olds), as well as EU citizens already with the rights to vote in local elections in the UK.

This advisory referendum was then hijacked by racist and opportunistic politicians (interestingly privately educated and with posh accents) wanting to leave the EU to further their own interests, in the process creating bands of followers suffering from the Class Complex, and making these bands more vociferous and plentiful by breaking electoral law to such an extent that the Electoral Commission believed criminal acts were committed.

And this is where it all breaks down – neither the Labour Party (which is supposed to represent the real interests of the Working Class) nor the Conservative Party (which of course represents the real interests of the Upper Class and those buying their way into it) say anything about that law-breaking. They say nothing about criminal acts being committed which would have invalidated the referendum had it been a binding one or a general election. They steadfastly insist that going ahead with Brexit is “the will of the people.” The government instructs the police and the National Crime Agency not to investigate the criminal acts committed by the Leave campaign. Is this really the way a civilised and law-abiding land should be governed? No. And both major political parties are complicit in letting this happen. And both major political parties continue to allow the law to be broken, with no thought for the interests of millions and millions of law-respecting citizens, in opposition to what the majority of the people now want, which is to stay in the EU.

In truth, the reputation of the UK is irretrievably broken. No-one trusts this country any more, because it is a country where the government and the main opposition party encourage and support the breaking of the law, and allow liars and thieves to walk all over decent people. Shame on them.

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