Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Power and its Placing

Looking at the Chancellor of the Exchequer during and after his presentation of the New Labour PBR it is clear that his heart isn't in it. Not only was there a smirking, writhing, inattentive Prime Minister misbehaving behind and beside him, there was the knowledge that he is regarded as Brown's puppet.

This is not true. The Chancellor is Mandelson's puppet, as is the Prime Minister.

The democratic deficit, that widened immeasurably with the toppling of the elected Prime Minister in 2007 that was not followed by a general election to confirm the 'change' in policy and governance under Brown, has become a yawning abyss over which our country is poised. Brown's abject failure to measure up to the job, demonstrated within months, led to the imposition of yet another unelected head of the UK Executive.

Hoiked into that part of the United Kingdom's legislature that is peopled by inheritance, Executive appointment, or purchase, 'Lord' Mandelson replaced the challenged, usurping incumbent. In doing so he made a small contribution to the intellectually interesting but democratically destructive evolution of power location in UK governance. The transfer of the autocratic powers of the Crown to the Parliament, then to the lower House, then to the Cabinet, then to the Prime Minister, has moved on.

Under the New Labour Project there was first the transfer of the powers of the Prime Minister - and the draining of remaining powers of the great offices of State - to the Chancellor, which we all watched from 1997 on. With Brown's failure while in the office of prime minister, we are watching the transfer of that concentrated power into the hands of a Party strongman - regardless of whether elected within the inner Party or, even less important, the country.

As Chancellor, Brown had the power but, within his wounded ego, yearned for the trappings of that power. Now he has been allowed to keep the trappings, but the power itself is settled in autocratic hands without the least interest in gaudy (which is not to be confused with interest in luxury).

Autocrats are essentially committed to the belief that the wielding of power is personal, face to face, and individual. It is not office-holder to office-holder, government to government, state to state, and answerable to the elected representatives of the people, from whom that power has been drained and from whom it arises. So with whom does our pet autocrat have these kind of relations?

Since the precipitation from Brussels we know of: Brussels and the European Union itself; Russia; and the oil rich states of the Gulf. Nice kula partners.

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