Letter to the editor


Dear Harry,


I write because you invited comment to explore the democratic issues thrown up by aspects of the Blair administration.  Actually the problems have always been around and really began to surface in a significant way in the Thatcher era.  Fortunately we were spared worse treatment then because Thatcher overstepped the mark and cooked her goose with the introduction of the poll tax which ultimately sealed her fate.

Blair merely built upon what was already in place by surrounding himself with advisers, sidestepping parliamentary institutions and giving his advisers authority to instruct civil servants.  The problem is less that he did this;  more that our institutions and constitution enabled him to hijack democratic government in this way. 

I had some correspondence with Haydon Phillips who looked into issues of party funding.  I felt the issue of party funding was only one illustration of what was wrong with our democracy.  All deficiencies are important and interrelated and together act to enable democracy to be circumvented by individuals determined to assert their authority without reserve or hindrance.  I do not ascribe particular motivation to them but clearly, good or bad, we are all prone to human frailties and can’t be right always.

We should never have got into the pickle we did with the number of wars the Blair government committed us to, treating our armed forces and tax revenues as a personal prerogative, had our democratic institutions been adequate.  Think too of the closeness to Bush and the Trident vote!  Incidentally, our ‘rescue’ of Sierra Leone may be a pyrrhic victory as it is considered amongst the most corrupt.  Aid and support is often finding its way into administrators’ pockets and banks!

Noel Hamel