Saturday 16 November 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013 Posted by Jake 3 comments Labels: , , , , , , , ,
Posted by Jake on Saturday, November 16, 2013 with 3 comments | Labels: , , , , , , , ,

As we watch the government make our lives harder with cuts in pay, pensions, benefits, the creation of 'two tier' services and generally soaring inequality we tend to forget that it is we who put them there. They are not our rulers, they are our representatives.

Rulers rule in their own interests. They hold their power and wealth by force of law and arms. The spoon belongs to them, and they ladle out goodies to whom they wish.

Representatives in a democracy rule in the interests of those they represent. They hold their power because we give it to them in elections. The spoon belongs to us, and we trust them to ladle out goodies in all our interests.

Inevitably, whether it is Ruler or Representative holding the ladle, it is the closest people who get served most generously and those furthest away who get the dregs.

We provide some graphs using data from a House of Commons report to show who is closest to our representatives in Parliament. Perhaps they provide a clue why successive Tory and Labour governments have steered Britain back to Victorian levels of inequality:

a) According to Department of Education data, just 1% of England's school leavers in 2009/10 went to Oxbridge, compared to a quarter of MPs. 48% of England's school leavers did not go to university at all.

b) 6% of children are privately educated. In contrast, over half the Tory MPs and over a third of all MPs from the three main parties went to private schools.

c) As Margaret Thatcher said, "Advisers are there to advise, Ministers are there to decide". For all the hundreds of MPs in Parliament, it is the twenty or so people in the Cabinet who actually decide policy. Historically UK cabinets have been dominated by Oxbridge:

Sir John Major, a non-Oxbridge non-University former Conservative Prime Minister,  condemned the "truly schocking dominance of the privileged". He fumed that "Britain is run by a privately educated elite", the effects of which have been evident for decades.

We have previously written about the rocketing share of treasure going to the top 1% and the plummeting share going to the 90%. A phenomenon that has never happened faster in recent times than under the last Labour government. The wages of 90% of Britons has stagnated for decades.
Our representatives in Parliament have been put there to represent us. It is hard to have true compassion for people you have never known. Most of our parliamentarians have never known people like most of us. 

We need our representatives to be more representative.

Remember we have the power to put them there, and throw them out. Sadly in our democracy we are constrained in who we can vote for. Candidates are selected by local constituency parties who are easily swayed by shallow polish and charm. Perhaps it is time to introduce USA style 'Primaries', where ordinary Britons would get a chance to choose the candidates.


  1. I'm not sure why you call them 'our representatives.' They don't represent so much as rule us. MPs vote according to the party line - by and large - they don't vote according to our interests. They are our representatives for 2 weeks every 5 years. Outside of that short period our interests, wishes, even the manifesto we may have based our voting intentions on, can go suck. That most honourable prime minister, none other than Tory Bliar, said something along the lines of 'Manifestos are not Binding'. They aren't!

  2. You say we have the power to throw them out. How so? What a shame that we can't have a vote of no-confidence in the current government.

  3. There seems to be some mileage in national campaigns. I support 28 Degrees on many of their campaigns and contribute my ideas to their surveys from time to time, which influences their future choices of issues to work on.


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