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The Potemkin politics of the UK

As the Samizdata quote of the day has been taken already by an excellent candidate, I thought I would add this quote for your delectation and discussion:

Public consultations have been sold as a way of increasing transparency and the quality of government. In reality they have often become Potemkin exercises where the Government is able to signal that it is doing something without actually doing it; or, worse, a policy colonisation process by a self-selecting public-sector clique of lobbyists, charities, and interest groups.

Fred De Fossard, head of the British Prosperity Unit at the Legatum Institute.

The way that these consultations are handled, often to give ministers the “right” answers and cover for what they wanted to do anyway, also speaks to how, as the writer notes, much of the supposed opportunities from being outside the EU are not being embraced.

With the Conservative Party so far behind in the polls, one might assume ministers would utilise the sovereignty of Parliament in what time they have left to do a few popular things, and legislate for the views of Tory supporters. There is still no sign of this happening; indeed quite the opposite, if the legislative agenda in the recent King’s Speech is any guide.

And there’s this zinger of a point:

The Government seems intent on eroding democracy further, by handing more powers to arms-length bodies, so the state will get even bigger, but less accountable. The Competition and Markets Authority is soon to be given new powers to regulate the digital economy; a brand-new regulator will oversee English football, despite the country boasting the most successful footballing economy in the world.

Needless to say, as or when we get a Labour government, I expect little change on this issue of “arms-length” bodies taking key decisions and arrogating more power for themselves. The fiasco of the Post Office and the wrongful convictions of hundreds of people might put a dent in this, but I am not optimistic.

These are deep-rooted problems, and for all that I am concerned about the direction of politics in the UK right now, I don’t see the Conservative Party as providing any sort of solution. My thoughts are increasingly mutinous.

The author concludes:

If British conservatism has a future, it must stop government-by-stakeholder, re-democratise the state, and end our recent experiment in the banal tyranny of process.

10 comments to The Potemkin politics of the UK

  • bobby b

    I made a comment a while back about the possible USSC ruling in the US that will dis-empower out-of-control bureaucratic agencies and return control to elected government. I made that comment assuming that the UK was also pursuing such goals.

    Guess I was wrong. Y’all still seem to be going the other way.

  • djm

    The Conservative Party commenced to morph into the LimpDem end of the UniParty in 1997.

    Its complete capitulation has been evident since at least 2016

    Its wipeout at the next GE will be thoroughly deserved

  • I sneeze in threes

    Factio Conservativa de ponte deici oportet

  • Agammamon

    I have to wonder what the point of a monarchy is if the sovereign not only won’t reign in the excesses of their government but is allowing it to replace them?

    And its not just this one. The previous queen essentially stopped anything but a pretense 30 years ago.

  • Roué le Jour

    Agreed. The king has the power to dissolve parliament if it goes off the rails. Given that all parties agree on net zero/woke/immigration policies and the people do not that condition has been met.

  • Paul Marks

    It is not really “what ministers want to do anyway” – it is what officials and international “experts” want to anyway, and, yes, the “public consultations” are designed to agree with these officials and “experts” – for example the farcical “citizen assemblies” where people are bombarded with propaganda till they agree with the pre-determined outcome.

    Roue le Jour – as the monarch also goes along with the officials and international “experts” your proposal is a nonstarter. And an election would produce a Labour party government that would go along even more with Net Zero and with endless mass immigration.

    As for the Conservative Party – over a 100 Conservative Party M.P.s are members of the Collectivist “One Nation” group (ironically named – as it hates the idea of an independent nation, indeed to be a member you have to sign a document pledging to be a “Global Citizen”) and they tend to be the people who are not going to lose their seats.

    Further decline of the United Kingdom appears to be “baked into the cake”.

  • Steven R


    The point of the sovereign seems to be to rubber stamp Parliament. The last time Royal Ascent was withheld was 1708. I know the government is supposedly in his/her name, but it seems like a rather hands off approach where stuff happens and the king or queen is completely out of the equation once a bill has been passed.

    At least the President is able to direct the agencies that report to him via Executive Orders and can use the bully pulpit to affect change, but other than rubber stamping Acts of Parliament and cutting the ribbons on new parks the only other purpose of the royals seems to be keeping the tabloids in business.

  • Runcie Balspune

    You could take the view the monarch acts like a safety valve, and the fact that has never been tested shows that parliament needs to be, and has been, cautious.

    I know the perspective amongst some is that parliament has been anything but, considering the freedoms being steamrollered over, but I like to think of the more disastrous stuff, like using the army to sporadically kill citizens, etc.

    I like to think that parliament still has to ask the monarch nicely if they could borrow their army to engage in bloody carnage, and any laws that require that approach may need rethinking, but I would acknowledge this is subject to the current Overton Window.

  • APL

    Guess I was wrong. Y’all still seem to be going the other way.

    “Bonfire of the Quango’s”.

    Used to be red meat for every Tory manifesto. After Blair and Brown, the New Tory party under Cameron ( who along with Justine Trudeau, I now think was one of Klaus Schwab’s protégé’s ) completely obliterated and transformed the Conservative party into the fascist party of Great Britain.

    It goes without saying, that even at peak usage, prior to Blair, ‘bonfire of the quango’s’ was a term honoured more in the breach than observance.

    But then the Tory party has always been the two step party. One step toward Tory policies, two steps away. Utterly useless, but for the enemy.

  • APL

    I like to think that parliament still has to ask the monarch nicely if they could borrow their army to engage in bloody carnage,

    I think you’ll find that prerogative, was stripped from the Crown under Blair.

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