Democracy

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Democracy is the worst system, apart from all the others.

At the last UK general election, there was very little difference between the Conservative and Labour parties. The Conservatives offered to reduce the deficit to zero, the Labour party to half it. Though the Labour party shout about Keynes, even Keynes would have placed some limit on borrowing, and would not have borrowed during a boom. And the Conservative plan to reduce the deficit to zero depended on far higher growth than has transpired. The difference is the political will. Both parties wish to be seen as competent managers, and to do what is pragmatic; but the Tories would rather spend less, and the Labour party more. Not less on nuclear weapons: the £75 billion estimate will be dramatically exceeded.

Yet in 1983 we had great ideological differences between the parties.

Both seem to agree that the greatest disaster would be the slightest reduction in house prices. See how gravely the Evening Standard reports a price drop of 0.4%. The policies of both have ensured that house prices have gone up vastly- over three times the retail price inflation- with the result that I am unable to afford a house. And I am suspicious of the term “dwellings” in that link: how many are houses divided into flats, how tiny are the new build homes. There has not been the halving of house prices seen in Ireland, but we do not have enough homes. The boom money went into increasing the price of existing houses rather than building new ones, as would have been sensible.

And what do they mean by policies for Growth, rather than Austerity, if they say a stimulus for demand is wrong?

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I am a reluctant monarchist, because I can see nothing better.

A powerful president, elected separately from the parliamentary election, would be a great change to the constitution, and whether to do that is a separate argument from whether to abolish the monarchy. Perhaps we could dispense entirely with a ceremonial head of state, and just have a head of Government; but if we had a president, we should start with a purely ceremonial role.

So I would ban previously elected politicians. Bruce Forsyth would be a good man for the showmanship of it; Nicola Horlick might find ways of extending the role. I would favour Rowan Williams: interesting to see, when he stopped having to unite the disputatious Anglican communion, what he really thought himself.

It would reduce our symbolic links with the Commonwealth. So, perhaps, we would start to work on more practical links.

All comments welcome.

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