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Who should determine the agenda of a political party? The members? Or someone else?
The events in the Labour party in UK have not received enough attention across the world. What’s happening is in fact a key milestone in the history of the UK and the history of democracy. The English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution firmly established the Parliament as the law maker in England together with the king. Over a period of two hundred years the power of the Parliament increased until Queen Victoria finally handed over all power to Parliament, making the monarchy purely ceremonial, a very important milestone. Then the charter and suffragette movements led to the extension of voting right to all people independent of their sex or class. In the very beginning only the feudal lords could vote. Then the right was extended to rich people. Universal adult suffrage and the human rights, labour rights, women’s rights that came about by the mid twentieth century signalled a new era in human history. In the nineteenth century only the rich had full rights and only the rich could participate in governance. Now every person in society is treated equally and every person is allowed and expected to take part in governance.
But after this the progress of democracy has stalled. Even though all the people have vote, the people still cannot control the decisions of the party they elect to power. The people in power can recklessly do whatever they want, thwarting the people’s mandate. To remedy this first the people need control over political parties? How do the people do this? This can happen when the political parties only implement what they promise to the people and nothing else. Thus they have to give the blueprint to the people and once accepted must implement only that blueprint over the next five years.
The current situation is that wealthy backers control the political parties as the parties have no way of surviving except on the large funds given by these donors. These interests never allow the party to take up any agenda that is against their core agenda. There are several lobbies that influence political parties and thus there cannot emerge any policy in any political party that is against these agendas even though the people en masse are against them. This is the most critical point. In a true democracy policies that the people do not support do not become laws. And policies that people do support do become laws.
Is this democracy? When the political parties are controlled by a few and the parties only follow these people rather than the people, is that democracy? This is the question that has come to the fore in the UK. The labour party has the very good policy that its leader is elected by its members. After the crushing defeat in the last general elections a search for identity and survival occurred within the labour party. This is what we mean when we talk about the ‘vivekatma’ and collective survival instinct. The collective survival instinct of all the labour party members responded and led to the landslide victory of Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn is considered “left” within the labour party. His victory is considered a “surprise”. He doesn’t seem to have enough support among the people who fund labour party. Thus a war has started in the labour party to oust Jeremy Corbyn and stop his “unelectable” (which is determined by whom?) agenda. The recent coup is the final step.
This begs the question: who should determine the agenda of a political party? The members? Or someone else? This is the central question of politics. Who should control a political party? It’s members or someone else? As every party needs funding and the funding is provided by the elites thus every party is controlled by a few elites. This is the harsh truth.
This is the reason why there isn’t much difference between democracies and dictatorships nowadays. So what’s going to play out over the next couple of weeks? Will democracy win or lose?