The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.


Meet the Professor

Monday, March 19, 2007

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC


We interviewed Baroness Helena Kennedy QC - who famously said of David Blunket, "he takes his lessons on jurisprudence from Robert Mugabe".

Whilst we're busy editing, here's an extract from her forward to the Power Inquiry's investigation into the state of our democracy.

"...The disengagement from politics ... cannot be dismissed as the preoccupation of the chattering classes. Its substance has come from the voices of thousands of people around the country who feel quietly angry or depressed. When it comes to politics they feel they are eating stones. Principle and ideas seem to have been replaced with mangerialism and public relations. It is as though Proctor and Gamble or Abbey National are running the country...


However, the blame cannot all be put at the door of politicians and when the first wave of emotion about political lying and politicians self-interest or ruminations about the fault of the media, a very different public complaint surfaces. The disquiet is really about having no say. It is about feeling disconnected because voting once every four or five years does not feel like real engagement. Asking people to set questions in focus groups or polling is a poor substitute for real democratic processes. Voting itself seems irrelevant to increasing numbers of people: even supposing there is a candidate you like, if you are in a constituency where the outcome is preordained and your favoured choice is not IT there is no point turning out to the draughty church hall and inserting your vote in the ballot box.

It is also about feeling that there is no choice, despite our living in an era when CHOICE is the dominant political mantra – there is very little on offer as the main parties now seem to be much the same. It is about a belief that even Members of Parliament have little say because all of the decisions are made by a handful of people at the center and then driven through the system. Politics and government are increasingly slipping back into the hands of the privileged elites as if democracy has run out of steam...

...People have changed. Lives are being lived in very different ways but the political institutions and the main political parties have failed to keep up...

...The politicos have no idea of the extent of the alienation that is out there. The people round the Westminster water coolers are clearly not having the same conversations as they are everywhere else. Their temperature gauge is seriously out of kilter. When politicians or party managers were asked for ideas for re-engagement, the suggested solutions were almost all about tweaking the existing system, with a bit of new technology here and there. The result is no political space is being created for new politics and new ideas to emerge; a new politics – whether in the form of new parties or the genuine revival of the existing parties – will only be born once the structural problems within the current system are addressed.

What political leaderships seem to misunderstand is that if you want to unite people around a distinct and common purpose you have to draw people in. Too often citizens are being evicted form the processes.

Ways have to be found to engage people. Markets, contracts and economic rationality provide a necessary but insufficient basis for the stability and prosperity of post-industrial societies; there must be leavened with reciprocity, moral obligation, duty to community, trust and political engagement. People in Britain still volunteer; they run in marathons for charity; they hold car boot sales to raise funds for good causes; they take part in Red Nose days and wear ribbons for breast cancer or AIDS...They march against the Iraq war and in favour of the countryside. They sign petitions for extra street lights and more frequent bin collection. They send their savings to the victims of tsunamis and want to end world poverty. What they no longer want to do is join a party or get involved in formal politics. And increasingly they see no point in voting. This is a travesty for democracy and if it continues the price will be high. The only way to download power is by rebalancing the system toward people.

This is the agenda.

Now we need the political will."

Helena Kennedy QC
Member of the House of Lords
Foreword to ‘The Report of Power: An Independent Inquiry into Britain’s Democracy’
The Power Inquiry, February 2006

5 comments:

  1. disenfranchised19 Mar 2007, 10:53:00

    Kennedy makes two points -the initial "they're liars" and the second "the electorate have no say".

    She seems to have missed the link between the two. WE HAVE NO SAY WHEN THEY LIE.

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  2. I'm actually surprised that so many people believe that our current politicial system is perfect (when I talk to various people I know, this is the reaction I get). Perhaps the people I've asked come from a more privileged group and consequently don't care too much because they don't feel the impact. I agree with Helena Kennedy:

    'Politics and government are increasingly slipping back into the hands of the privileged elites as if democracy has run out of steam'

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  3. "She seems to have missed the link between the two. WE HAVE NO SAY WHEN THEY LIE."

    you've hit the nail on the head

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  4. Gilgamesh - I really don’t think the less privileged classes have a monopoly on political disaffection. In my experience, those people you think of as “privileged” care a great deal about the way the country is run -perhaps if only because they have more to lose. You ask the privileged classes how they feel about the banning of hunting (a campaign led by Blair, a man so passionate about the cause that he failed to vote on all but one occasion). Ask them how they feel about the persecution of fee paying schools, which the current government are doing their best to destroy. Similarly, the raiding of the pension funds by Labour left a lot of people you might consider “privileged” very, very angry indeed.

    Everyone feels the impact of this government’s deceit and mismanagement. Not just the poor.

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  5. the bleedin dull19 Mar 2007, 15:57:00

    Rich or poor, you elect these people to deal with the business of running the country on your behalf. You don't have the time, the interest or the energy - you simply TRUST them to do it on your behalf. Kennedy seems to want many more of us to be involved, participate actively etc. That's not gonna happen. Why should it ? That's what we elect and pay them for. If we wanted to be more involved you could have a much more referenda-based set up.

    The point of a Parliamentary democracy is that we shouldn't have to participate too much - so0 long as our elected representatives are honest with us. Therein lies the problem - once we perceive them to be liars (irrespective of the truth in that) when you've a system that can't hold them to account with any degree of satisfaction - you end up saying "fuck it" and not bothering to vote.

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