Sunday, May 17, 2015

Checks and Balances

Image: David Muir

I've chosen to remain silent for almost 3 years: Lib Dem strategists seemed oblivious to the alternatives to a disastrous 2015 election, and I didn't want to do anything to jeopardise the chances of Labour keeping the Tories out of power. In the event, Labour engineered their own 2015 disaster.

Many other writers have produced excellent analyses of what went wrong, and so I have no burning desire to reiterate the clear lessons to be learned. No doubt I will return to these lessons en passant in future posts. Nor is it especially productive for me to let off steam about my fury with the Lib Dem leadership, with Labour's dreadful Tory-lite offering, or with friends who voted Green or Red only to predictably let in Blue.

Nor is it necessary to outline the horrors that await our country thanks to the Tory's majority government. I think we're all too well aware.

No, I can return to all these topics more rationally once the heat has died down.

What I want to do is flag up a few key policy issues that I believe we're failing to address properly and that have something in common:

1. We haven't yet put much in place to forestall future economic collapse caused by incompetent banks and tax-dodging companies.

2. Overspending and other mismanagement by politicians is all too easy, given that a party can win power on 37% of the vote, and with a mandate from less than a quarter of the electorate.

3. Vital parts of our community infrastructure - such as hospitals, schools, post offices, libraries, youth centres, shelters, etc. - are vulnerable to closure when times get tough, despite intense local demand for alternatives to closure.

4. Defiance of human rights, snooping by the state, lack of access to the justice system, newspapers little better than propaganda press, and harassment of the innocent by the media all seem to be getting worse.

5. Perceptions of immigration being "out-of-control" and of an oppressive European bureaucracy are not being assuaged by trying to co-opt and moderate the swivel-eyed xenophobia of UKIP.

6. We are sleep-walking into climate catastrophe through the actions of polluters and the inactions of governments.

One thing I believe all these areas have in common is the lack of clearly identifiable checks and balances (in a broad sense) to restrain the power of governments, institutions and companies to cause harm, while at the same time minimising infringements on freedom.

Whether Left or Right, Green or Free-marketeer, liberal or conservative these are issues that should be very relevant to us all.

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