So here we are 800 years after the Magna Carta was signed and the hypocrites are out in force. The current Queen Elizabeth II along with David Cameron and assorted dignitaries made their way to Runymede, the original birthplace where the Magna Carta was signed by King John on 15th June 2015, which limited the powers of the King, how much the monarchy was paid, the right to a fair trial and protection against illegal imprisonment, among others protections.
Cameron used the occasion to bleat that he was going to do away with the Human Rights Act in favour of a British Bill of Rights. What a chump! The Human Rights Act is a direct descendent of the Magna Carta, but unlike the original which was watered down by successive monarchs (most notably by QE herself in a recent deal struck between George Osborn and herself).
Where the Magna Carta protected Parliament against the abuses of the monarch, the HRA protects ordinary people against the abuses of Parliament and those in government. It speaks volumes of the utter arrogance of our current parliamentarians that they see themselves supremely above the need to be kept in check to prevent their blind ideology being a yoke around the necks of citizens who are expected to work and pay taxes without (increasingly) any recourse to succour for the most vulnerable in our society.
Under the new Tory government schools and healthcare are being privatised, child benefit is being capped to only the first two children with payments being withdrawn. This benefit which is universal to all families is paid to mothers to ensure that children have at least some financial assistance for food and clothing, particularly needed among poor families. The hated “Bedroom Tax” punishes the sick and disabled for needing special care and carers while paying lip service to the much-needed work they do.
While Dave is busy trying to dismantle our ties to the EU he flies in the face of the many benefits that derive from the EU which many ordinary people are thankful for. Employment rights, privacy, the right to live in dignity and very importantly it protects against the politicisation of judges. In the UK there is a good, long tradition of judges being independent of Parliament and prior to the 1998 Act regularly chided governments of various colours in cases where government was clearly wrong. The worry is this new “Bill of Rights” will actually politicize the judiciary leading to an Americanised system where judges rely on the grace and favour of parliament to keep their positions, which is an outrageous notion and will open the judiciary to corruption.
Meanwhile, back on the ground it seems our Greek cousins in Europe are safely challenging the democratic alliances of the ECB, IMF and EC. While Germany has huffed and puffed, the IMF, EC and ECB are trying to turn the screws, it is an interesting exercise on what is democracy in the 21st Century.
The troika have asked the Greeks to stop payments of pensions, get rid of the public sector wholesale and allow full scale pillage of its assets. The recently elected Syriza Party which was voted into power on an anti-austerity promise is, sensibly, challenging the premise of these cuts. These cuts if implemented would ensure permanent poverty for Greece for all time. This is why it is being challenged.
The conduct of the governments of both Greece and the UK speaks volumes about the values each exhibit. The Greeks obviously have a way of life where everyone is valued, whatever they do for a living. Public services are seen as a necessary function of the ability of citizens to be able to live in a cohesive society that has room for everyone, young, old, sick, fit and well. In the UK governments look upon the electorate as a nuisance, there to be manipulated during elections in order to retain politicians’ jobs and pacify, but essentially a cash cow from taxes and to be milked as much as possible. Increasingly little room is made for the young, old, sick and infirm. Unless you are working, you have no value.
Because of the position of the Greek government, voices are being raised as to why austerity is still being espoused as a solution to a crisis that should have been handled very differently over 6 years ago. It comes to something when a senior French MEP, Pervenche Berès, questions the wisdom of adopting such severe austerity measures in so many EU countries, that they have not delivered the “recovery” promised, instead have only created more austerity and have caused many of the parties putting forward such policies to lose their seats in their national parliaments.
The rise of nationalism is a real problem for politicians as it divides politicians into two camps, those who serve the interests of corporations and those who serve the interests of the people who elected them.
Increasingly it looks as though Greece will default on the proposed payments of €1.6bn which will be painful not just for the Greeks themselves, but also for Europe and the rest of the world as it will ensure an exit from the EU monetary system and an end to the EU as a fiscal policy. A good number of EU countries who are chafing against the rigidity of “ever closer union” with the EU and seeing that it will not work. It isn’t working. It is causing more strife and disparity among people who have previously been on good terms with each other.
I genuinely hope the coming economic and financial negotiations in the EU will not be to convince the populace of a recovery when clearly there isn’t one. I also think that a Grexit as it is popularly called is most likely to happen, the house of cards that is the banking system will collapse and needs to. It has been a victim of its own failure to put its house in order, and we can write those debts off, both nationally and individually and an adoption of the Icelandic system of reverting back to individual currencies, having close control of the movement of those currencies for each country would be a step in the right direction. However the real victims have been the 99% who have been made to suffer the lack of backbone among politicians to stand up for the rights of the citizens above the presumed rights of the corporations
In this way instead of fighting an uphill battle for survival we can make room for everyone in our societies and value the unseen work that people do as much as the work that is seen. Parents, carers, teachers, fire fighters, health workers should be on an equal footing with those whose work attracts higher wages. Working patterns also need to be changed in order to enhance and enrich the lives of citizens around the world.
I applaud the Greek people and their vision, unwavering knowledge of the value of their contribution to people everywhere, that they have not diluted the original versions of democracy, and in doing so, remind us of the true nature of democracy, that it is for all people, not just a few at the top of the tree. Thank you.