Three months – seems a lot longer. The permanently disgruntled ginger Tory Simon Heffer coined the telling phrase “the Brown Terror” a long time ago, and it’s easy to block out the full extent of the misery, and it’s legacy. Here’s Heffer:
“The Brown Terror, which ended almost three months ago, was as traumatic as it gets without loss of life. It is no wonder, in its aftermath, that the coalition government that replaced it is having such a long honeymoon. Mr Brown was a global embarrassment; his administration was a disaster (and here’s some free advice to the next leader of the Labour Party, whoever he or she may be: admit that it was a disaster, so that people start by taking you seriously); and the damage it did to the wallets, demeanour and psychology of the average voter will not easily be forgiven. It is as if the country, in its post-operative relief at having had the Terror removed, doesn’t want politics any more – which is just as well, because that is more or less what the Coalition is providing.”
Whether Dave ‘n Nick are a success is a separate issue. The Knife wishes to review the most undemocratic behaviour of any British government in his lifetime. Not bad policy or legislation – there’s plenty of that too, but the profound and blithe contempt for democracy which went on, under Blair then Brown. This stuff is too important to forget.
Wikipedia has it all:
“Democracy is a political form of government where governing power is derived from the people, either by direct referendum (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy)….equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution….
There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others. However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated – through the use of balances – to avoid an uneven distribution of political power, such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become undemocratic…”
…. which seems reasonable. Here are The Knife’s top three Labour assaults on democracy:
1. Foisting Brown on the country without any national mandate at all, to get Blair out of harm’s way, in the knowledge that he was intrinsically unsuited to the role. Even if he’d been the new Gladstone it would still have been wrong
2. Perpetuating and exacerbating the outrageous constituency sizes that allowed Labour to dominate ‘first past the post’ parliaments with relatively small popular votes. Could this be about to change?
3. The frankly mind-boggling attempt by Brown, Mandelson and Campbell to hang on in Downing St after losing an election. Note the the last two were unelected, of course.
There are lots of other examples – Blair’s numerous attempts to castrate parliament; going to war on a lie (hmmm…probably should be in the top three); the outrageously self-centred timing of general elections (one suspects that Dave may keep this one)…
So, Heffer is right on at least one thing – we are still in rehab.
The Knife would like to see some sort of public monument to the victims of the Brown Terror, possibly in Trafalgar Square. One hates to quote Paddy Ashdown, but:
I don’t think Bosnia is ready for reconciliation, but I do think it is ready for truth.