Who should be our next Prime Minister?

David Cameron has a shallow charisma derived from a deep sense of entitlement that gives people the impression of leadership. He has the confidence of someone who expects to get his way. This is seductive to the electorate. It is dangerous. If you look at his domestic decision making in terms of immigration and education for example and his record of diplomacy in Europe and elsewhere he is incompetent and incoherent, acting on the basis of what will make him and his government look good.

Ed Miliband however seems genuinely driven by a sense of injustice and is deploying policies designed to make peoples lives better. Not just the well off but for society as a whole. People seem to have begun internalising the media’s message that he is a weak leader because it’s been repeated so many times. But he has a much more thoughtful and deep charisma derived from the fact that he engages with the issues and makes decisions on the basis of what is best for the people and not his image. This carries much more authority and legitimacy for me than the showmanship and self-interested pomp of Cameron.

Chubby, northern forest bird that erupts south and west irregularly…

Chubby, northern forest bird that erupts south and west irregularly…

If deliberative democratic forums were in place, then people would find it rewarding to participate and engage with politics. But how do we establish these forums? The people who currently benefit from the rule of money, expertise and media ratings are not going to voluntarily give up their positions of power so the needed political reforms will only occur if average citizens participate and mobilise for reforms that will strengthen their role in the political process. But since existing political institutions are frustrating and stultifying, few people are willing to participate

—Kymlicka

If deliberative democratic forums were in place, then people would find it rewarding to participate and engage with politics. But how do we establish these forums? The people who currently benefit from the rule of money, expertise and media ratings are not going to voluntarily give up their positions of power so the needed political reforms will only occur if average citizens participate and mobilise for reforms that will strengthen their role in the political process. But since existing political institutions are frustrating and stultifying, few people are willing to participate

—Kymlicka

Democratic theorists such as Oldfield, Pocock and Skinner believe that failure to participate in politics make one a ‘radically incomplete and stunted being’. Personally, although I think I would be good to have everyone politically engaged, I wouldn’t call the millions who don’t vote or deliberate about political issues incomplete or stunted, they might be having more enjoyable and fulfilling lives that these old guys writing complicated theories in quiet dusty rooms.

Abraham Lincoln conceived of democracy as a ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’.

For government to be of the people, the people who constitute government must be drawn from a diverse range of different communities within society in order that the many different groups in the population, their views and specific issues relating to them are adequately represented in, and conveyed to parliament.

For government to be by the people it must be democratically elected. The features of a democratic election must be present. ‘The people’ means collectively every person eligible to vote. But a democracy does not necessitate that every person eligible should vote. Representation can come from contacting your MP or writing twitter updates. However the more people who vote the more representative the Government will be and thus presumably the more democratic. But these two conclusions depend on a majority exercising their vote in a way that accurately represents their political judgement which requires some level of knowledge and competence to make that judgement.

For government to be for the people the elected officials must not assume they have the mandate to do what they want once in power and must exercise that power for the benefit of the people rather than serving their own interests or only the interests of certain sections of society.

How well does the UK do on that test? We clearly don’t have enough diversity in terms of race religion or gender in government to pass the first hurdle. On the second hurdle I would argue we don’t do enough to support or create the right conditions for political participation, especially in the disabled population and prisons. And on the third hurdle you can make your own judgement

What is repulsive is not that one man should earn more that another, for where community of environment and a common education and habit of life have bred a common tradition of respect and consideration these details of the counting-house are forgotten or ignored. It is that some classes should be excluded from the heritage of civilisation which others enjoy and that the fact of human friendship, which is ultimate and profound, should be obscured by economic contrasts which are trivial and superficial.

—Tawney 1964: 113

Only the selfish man would say that selflessness is mere appeasement of other’s selfish desires

Through Bottle grey sails
A blunted lance
Protrudes through
Craned and elegant
Cottony bows as
Crooked mask sways
In the wind and straitens
Wild green woven waters
Folds follow wrinkles
And silver darts fly
Like cascades of misty
Droplets in foggy murk
An unkissed shadow lurks
Shallow patters pad
And weave
Cat and mouse through reeds
Sells ripples as flies
Water boatman cries
Then sells you out for silver
Beady eyed a flickering tongue
Flicks scales and flesh
The waves you made
Lap grit and stone
Then fade ‘till droplets
Drip again