“History repeats itself” is one of those clichés that resonates with truth but its lessons are often ignored in practice, akin to “never believe what you read in newspapers” – people still largely always do precisely the opposite.
Conversely many myths are believed as gospel, for example that the line “play it again Sam” was said in the film Casablanca, “Bambi was shot” in the Disney film and that the Tories are Eurosceptic. Thus we have the ungainly sight of Tories tonight getting themselves worked up into a lather by claiming that freezing or cutting the EU budget is some kind of victory for Euroscepticism. Paying the EU billions instead of ‘billions plus a bit extra’ is a victory it perversely seems.
The other enduring myth is that politics is divided vertically – left & right – whereas in truth it is divided more horizontally – us & them. Politics, a point that is self-evident, is ultimately about power not ideology – who has it and who controls it. In theory democracy is supposed to give power to the people in the form of a threat – the threat to remove those from office if they fail to listen to us so in effect concentrating those who govern us minds. What is apparent is that ‘threat’ has now become impotent, if ever it indeed existed. And nowhere is it more obvious than tonight’s vote on the increase of the EU’s budget.
Parliament’s historical and ultimate purpose is to control the King’s spending – control the money and you control the King. Parliament is supposed to do that on behalf of us; after all it’s our money not the Government’s. It was on this very toxic issue of power we had a civil war – over control of the King’s purse. Yet over time Parliament has morphed from a controller of the King’s purse into the King itself with no adequate control on it, apart from a paltry election every 5 years where we the electorate get ignored on the very day after a General Election.
Thus we have had MPs’ expenses scandal with the ill-disguised contempt for our money that ensured and the utter failure of Parliament to do its primary job…to scrutinise the budget. The abolition of the 10p tax band was a classic example. A nasty little trick by Gordon Brown that effectively taxed the poorest in society to give a tax break to those better off to win an election. And despite it adversely affecting Labour MP’s constituents (and the tax con being picked up within in an hour of the announcement), Labour MP after Labour MP walked through the aye lobby approving the budget without a murmur. Parliament thus failed in its job spectacularly.
Tonight will be yet another example. Despite Parliament’s vote we will still pay huge amounts to Brussels, the taxpayer will still be ignored and should Cameron wish it he can ignore Parliament’s vote anyway. It’s no longer fit for purpose, a film set is all it’s useful for.
The Harrogate Agenda is more important than ever. There is a tendency (almost an arrogant one) with modern technology to feel superior to those that have gone before. But the same fundamental issues have always been present – we had a civil war once we can have one again…all it takes is an arrogant disdain for us by those who govern and the old age question of money.
History has a nasty habit of repeating itself.