Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The People Versus Parliament

Statue of Simon de Montfort on the Haymarket
Memorial Clock Tower in Leicester.
The origins of the English Parliament, it is claimed, are to be found in the ancient moots and witans of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. But as a body representative of the common people of England, Parliament can be dated precisely to the year 1265 when the rebel, Simon de Montfort 6th Earl of Leicester, made King Henry III a captive figurehead and called a Parliament of elected representatives, two from each county and from selected boroughs.

Although de Montfort was killed in battle by royalist forces the same year and his body hacked in pieces, Henry III's successor, Edward I, reestablished an elected Parliament, a model that has been retained ever since. And since, by the Great Charter (Magna Carta) of 1215, the king had ceded control over taxation to Parliament, the financing of the English government has, for almost 750 years, been under the nominal control of the people.

But, as a result of the constitutional changes that followed the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the executive branch of the English Government passed from monarch to Parliament. And because Parliamentary votes are now controlled not by the representatives of the people expressing the interests of their constituents, but by the party machines that are owned by hidden financial or alien interests, the people no longer have significant control over the government.

That is why an "independent" Government advisory body, the "Committee on Standards in Public life," insolently proposes taxpayer funding of election campaigns by parties the taxpayers won't support voluntarily.

What this reveals is that something has gone hopelessly wrong with England's Parliamentary system, which is democratic in name only, and is in reality a system of government by factions serving interests of which most citizens are only dimly aware but to which, if they knew of them, they would be vehemently opposed.

On the right, those interests include Israel, the finance and real estate industries, and the American war for global empire. On the left, those interests include, Israel, the finance and real estate industries, and the American war for global empire.

A measure of the anti-democratic nature of parliamentary government in Britain and elsewhere is the near universal contempt with which politicians treat the taxpayer.

To the left, the taxpayer is a whingeing anti-social element who is assumed to be a cheat and a liar unless investigation proves otherwise, and who any politician should be proud to punish.

To the right, there may be surreptitious gestures to mollify the higher bracket taxpayer. But the main objective is to compete with the left for the votes of the supposedly underprivileged, downtrodden, exploited or discriminated against with promises of ever more broad-ranging taxpayer funded giveaways, subsidies and regulatory mechanisms.

Previously I suggested that some semblance of democratic balance might be achieved by populating the upper house in every parliamentary system with those who pay the highest taxes. The aim of that proposal was to make the influence of the money power in politics more visible and therefore more responsible.

But giving the money power, which has the means to avoid heavy taxation, overt political influence would provide minimal relief to the little people, the middle class, who lose half their income in taxes largely so that politicians are able to buy the votes of the great army of bureaucrats who administer the multitudinous "benefits" that secure the votes of the lower classes.

To remedy the financial exploitation and destruction of the common folk, I propose two innovations, one symbolic and the other of substance.

The symbolic innovation would be a scheme to recognize taxpayers for the contribution they make to the Treasury, this to be accomplished by the issuance of medals based on a person's tax contributions during the past five years. Thus, those contributing on average more than they receive in benefits, either monetary or in kind, would receive a Citizenship Medal Third Class, which would be cast in bronze and announced in newspapers, local radio, etc. Those contributing a net amount of, say $10,000 a year would receive a Citizenship Medal Second Class, which would be cast in Silver. Those contributing $100,000 per year would receive a Citizenship Medal First Class, which would be cast in Gold. In addition there could be medals in platinum or studded with diamonds for the nation's greatest taxpayers. Medals would be issued every five years so that, on formal occasions, veteran taxpayer would have a series of medals to add to their military service medals.

But more than this is needed to restore to the English and the other Parliamentary democracies the power over the public purse that English citizens enjoyed under Simon de Montfort's Parliament of 1265. To restore that right, the innovation of substance that I propose is a Citizen's Assembly to rule on all money bills proposed by the executive branch of government, i.e., Parliament.

The Citizen's Assembly, like Simon de Montfort's Parliament, whose members were elected by freeholders with property of a rentable value in excess of forty shillings a year, should represent the competent and responsible middle class. This community would be defined by taxpayer status. All those awarded a Medal of Citizenship First Class or higher would be eligible to sit as a member of the Citizens' Assembly. From among those eligible individuals two would be selected at random from each constituency and required to serve for a period of three years, selection of representatives being made yearly such that one third or the Assembly's members were replaced each year.

This idea would undoubtedly be dismissed by the establishment parties and their media hangers on as totally insane, and it is, I acknowledge, something that could surely not be instituted other than by a conquering warrior and intellectual giant such as de Montfort. Sadly, therefore, we must expect that the Western democracies will continue their accelerating plunge through corruption, into chaos leading to not-long-delayed extinction.

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