Cameron's Conservatives: An Illegitimate Regime

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Modern bust of Cleisthenes, the father of democracy, Athens, Greece 507 BC. Courtesy: Open Source

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 16 May 2015

The birthplace of democracy is widely acknowledged as being the city-state of Athens, Greece in 507 BC: Cleisthenes, an Athenian nobleman, overthrew the incumbent tyrannical ruler of the city, Hippias, and went on to install direct democracy for all eligible citizens. The definition of an eligible citizen at that time excluded women, men under 20-years of age, non-landowners, slaves and foreigners, i.e. only those who were considered to be either capable, or trusted, in taking up arms in defence of the state in the event of war. Thus, out of a total population of some 400,000 Athenians there were 60,000 eligible citizens, approximately, who could, and routinely did, take part in the direct democratic process.

Little is known of the life and work of Cleisthenes after his contribution to the good governance of Athens but what we do know is that direct democracy failed to become established as the default in Europe: the most common form of governance today is a process in which the people exercise their voice and their power through the election of representatives who they believe will act in accordance with their wishes. Thus, representative democracy has long since supplanted the notion of direct democracy as the de-jure form of governance in Europe, and elsewhere, where eligible citizens political rights are simply enfranchised in their right to vote.

Subsequently, in the UK, representative democracy has been egregiously debased by the use of a First-Past-the-Post (FPP) voting system, aka. Winner-Takes-All. In this system the winner is the erstwhile candidate, for a given area or region, who gains the greatest number of votes. However, there is no requirement for the newly minted representative to achieve an absolute majority, i.e. to secure more than 50% of the total votes cast for their seat, as a representative, in the House of Commons. This effectively means that candidates can, and routinely are, elected to office with less than a majority of the vote (<50%) for a given seat.

The last General Election in the UK, held on 7 May 2015, typifies this abuse of democracy:


Courtesy: Open Source


While the Conservative Party, under the FPP system, just managed to secure a parliamentary majority and thus assume power with 50.9% of the seats in the House of Commons, they would not be entitled to rule in a system that used Proportional Representation (PR). In fact, the Conservatives, with just 36.8% of the total votes cast, merit no more than 239 seats and would have to form a coalition with one, or more, other parties in order to rule. That Conservative, Labour, the SNP, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Social Democratic & Labour Party (NI) are all over-represented and that UKIP, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru (Wales), the Ulster Unionist Party (NI) and Others are all under-represented in parliament, clearly demonstrates the deplorable state of democracy in present day UK.

The Cameron regime, as representatives of the Conservative Party, are an illegitimate abomination foisted upon the UK electorate.

The shocking state of democracy in UK is further exacerbated when the turnout rate, i.e. the number of people who actually voted as a percentage of those who were eligible to vote, is taken into consideration. The total number of eligible citizens entitled to vote was 46,432,193 and just 30,691.680 (66.1%) of these voters cast their vote. Thus, the Conservatives, with 11,334,920 votes, which, using the FPP system translated their votes into a slender majority totalling 331 seats in the House of Commons, only represents 24.4% of the people.

Of course, Proportional Representation is not a panacea to all that ails the moribund electoral system in the UK but as a first step in restoring democracy, albeit representative democracy, it would be welcomed by the majority of the people who are now beginning to realise that they are being egregiously manipulated by a small coterie of the population who have no interest whatsoever in changing the status quo.

While the chances of Proportional Representation being implemented in the UK in the near future is unlikely, the prospect of direct democracy, akin to the Athenian model initiated by Cleisthenes, is even more remote, regardless of the fact that modern technology would now facilitate this option.

Clearly the UK's electoral system is profoundly undemocratic and does not truly reflect the will of the people. That just 24.4% of eligible voters can rule over the remaining 75.6% of the electorate is a perverse manipulation of representative democracy.

Cameron's Conservatives are an illegitimate regime.

A legitimate democracy is the will of the majority.
Ann-Marie de Veer