Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cameron and democracy

One source of indignation about David Cameron’s gay marriage crusade seems to be down to it not being on any political manifesto. It isn’t something any voter signed up for. Not that many of us read manifestos.

Maybe that’s partly because UK democracy is close to becoming a thing of the past. Maybe it’s electorate laziness, yet life goes on for now and the loss of our democracy hasn’t aroused any great political indignation. Why is that? Does it matter?

Well firstly we have to say what democracy is, so to start things off I’ll give the version I use.

Democracy is a market in political ideas/services, where the key point is not what is on sale or who buys what, but the transparency the market provides. Yes I know how imperfect both democracies and markets are in this respect, but that’s what democracy is – a market.

This is why those who are not in favour of free markets are the same people who subvert democracy.

They just don't like markets.

So although democracy doesn’t necessarily deliver good government, it doesn’t matter too much if we have an open political market. Markets correct themselves if buyers and sellers have enough information and if the market isn’t rigged too blatantly.

At a practical level it may even be a good idea to leave government to professionals, but only so long as the professionals operate in a passably transparent political milieu – that political market we call democracy.

Unfortunately the three mainstream UK political parties are rigging the market. They are colluding and failing to offer genuine alternatives. As the gay marriage issue highlights rather well – they don’t even feel the need to tell us what they intend to do while in office.

They are rigging the market in political ideas, but we have no regulator to make them compete, because in a democracy the regulator is supposed to be the electorate.

Ultimately, voters can vote out all the mainstream parties and that possibility could regulate the behaviour of all concerned. However the parties worked out a long time ago that this is an empty threat, so the market in political ideas has ceased to be a market.

You didn’t believe the sales brochure did you? No, I didn't think so.


Demetrius said...

Or we just stop voting and then perhaps don't worry too much about the laws of the land and then perhaps join violent groupings to obtain personal advantages. Now where in the UK is this occurring?

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - cities?

James Higham said...

It is an empty threat and yet that's all it takes - vote for someone else on that bit of paper. Tantalus.

Anonymous said...

I agree re markets. But markets tend to regress to an optimum - motors cars all look the same, all perfumes are in fancy bottles and make you sexy. It does not pay to be radically different in a mass market.

Until recently we were all middle class, a marketing monoculture, this is changing and lo and behold a new market entrant arrives to satisfy the newly dissaffected. Given one could hardly slip a fag paper between Lab and Con the new entrant worries both.

A K Haart said...

James - yes, whatever happens afterwards, it's important not to have voted for the big three.

Roger - yes they do regress - to a few big players, which is what we have. The barrier to entry is too high though - as they know.