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For You, The Democracy is Over


Posted on 19 March 2012

no_news.jpgYesterday, Dr No was putting together a post on Mary’s Bottom Line, a Channel 4 documentary in which the Retail Raptor revealed not only her smalls, but her softer side. It seems to Dr No there are parallels between what markets did to Britain’s clothing industry, and what markets will do to the NHS when the HSCB becomes law. He wondered if in a decade’s time we might not come across another Channel 4 documentary, Mary’s Life Line, in which a clutch of long-term unemployed doctors and nurses reoccupy derelict NHS premises and start a renaissance of NHS practice.

As he wrote the post, he became aware via twitter of a drop-the-bill rally in central London being met with not just a solid police presence, but armed riot police, kettling, and all the paraphernalia of police state control. By twitter accounts, the rally was peaceful, and the police response outrageous, but then twitter is not Reuters, so Dr No turned to the established media for confirmation. And what did Dr No find in the established media? Nothing.

Absolutely nothing. For us, neither the rally nor the police response had happened. And as he combed and googled his way though websites big and small, a growing and discomforting sense of news blackout came over him. He began to smell the hand of the state, and of control; for not one established media outlet could he find that had reported the rally. There could only be, it seemed to Dr No, one explanation: a D Notice.

The British government has long had the power to ‘request’, via a committee set up for the purpose, a media blackout on matters it considers threaten national security, and it does this by issuing a D Notice, or, to give it its full title, a Defence Advisory (DA) Notice. Although the notices are ‘advisory’, and form part of a voluntary system, the established media normally go along with the request. Dr No has no particular problem with a D Notice system sensibly used – no one wants the press inadvertently blurting out sensitive material that could damage national security. But yesterday’s rally was a legitimate demonstration against a hated bill – not a threat to national security.

Dr No has, unsurprisingly if a D Notice is indeed in effect, been unable to establish whether one was issued. Such is the nature of D notices. But the facts we do know: that the rally happened, and yet it got no established media coverage at all, suggest, at the very least, that a D notice has been used.

If – for it is only if - a D Notice has been used, then it bears the hallmarks of a desperate government trampling on democracy. And, boy-oh-boy, do they have form.

The Tories grabbed power not by winning a true majority, but by forming a coalition with a bunch of closet hair-shirt Tories. No one voted for the coalition. They couldn’t – it didn’t even exist at the time of the election.

Neither the Tories nor the Lib Dems listed an NHS reorganisation ‘so big it can be seen from space’ in their manifesto – yet they continue to force through just such a reorganisation, despite overwhelming professional and public opposition.

They have trampled on the orders of the Information Commissioner and a subsequent tribunal to release the Bill’s risk register; only last weekend, Lib Dem grandees ignored the evident will of their party…

…and now, on the eve of the Bill’s Third Reading in the Lords and likely Royal Assent this coming Tuesday, they appear – appear, because we don’t know – to have used a D Notice to suppress media coverage of legitimate demonstration against the Bill. Such tactics, collectively, from the imposition of un-mandated policy to the apparent suppression of news, are not those of a responsible democratic government: they are instead the increasingly desperate measures of a government that knows it has lost the will of the people, and of the professions, and yet intends to get its way come what may. For you, it seems, the democracy is indeed over.

9 comments:

I am glad that you have written this post Dr No for I began one myself on the same theme on Saturday night, like your good self gaining information on twitter; I went as far as requesting permission from a twitterer to use their photo for the blog post and was informed that its source was from another twitterer and can be found here.

I delayed posting presuming that I would certainly find an article re the protest in (at least) The Observer – but not so, not a whisper. Very rum indeed…

It will be interesting to see if tonight’s (8pm) nationwide 25 NHS Candlelit Vigils will receive media coverage…

I cannot attend the same held in my city as I am at work – but my heart will be there.

Anna :o]

God help us all!

"Across just about every imaginable indicator of the state of UK democracy since 1945, the curve of the graph begins to slope downwards from the early 1970s and reaches a nadir in the period from 1999 onwards. Whether our measure is voter registration or voter turnout, party membership or party activism, popular identification with political parties or public faith in elected politicians, the data sets point the same way – and that way is down".

"No country which was already a democracy in 1945 bucks the trend of declining engagement and growing popular cynicism. It is scarcely necessary to trawl through the vast reams of evidence from comparative political science; a solitary, but exhaustive, Scandinavian case study tells us just about everything we need to know. From 1998–2004, generously funded scholars undertaking the Norwegian ‘Power and Democracy’ study scrutinised the state of democracy in a country which ranks in the global top three on just about every indicator of democratic quality. The conclusions they reached were damning: ‘the democratic chain of command in which governance is under the control of voters has burst and the very fabric of rule by popular consent
is disintegrating before our eyes […it is…] not only that there are weak points in the chain but that a chain that was once solid has fallen apart’. For the UK, which ranks in the bottom quartile of established democracies, the Norwegian study poses serious questions."
http://www.dhacommunications.co.uk/pdf/Ch%2019%20-%20Dr%20Stuart%20Wilks...

" sensitive material that could damage national security. But yesterday’s rally was a legitimate demonstration against a hated bill – not a threat to national security."

This bill had been debated, paused, views of professional and patient groups taken in, amended, read and passed the commons, off to the Lords, more amendments, select committees, you name it, and more amendments! Yet, there is opposition still!

Well, I don't know what more democracy you want everybody?! And what is the basis for objection now? Because the idea of "a clutch of long-term unemployed doctors and nurses reoccupy derelict NHS premises and start a renaissance of NHS practice." is very premature! For starters, where is the evidence any of all those professionals will become unemployed once reform is implemented? Then, by the same token many doctors and nurses may 'choose' to leave for greener pastures and more opportunity to prove themselves too! Managers and none clinical staff do that now, why not allow docs the same opportunity?!

"Well, I don't know what more democracy you want everybody" - oh, I know it sounds old fashioned but how about democracy based on the best interest of the electorate rather than the lobbyists and the corporations they represent?

I mean doesn't it annoy you that the biggest structural change to an important public institution was not even mentioned in the tories pre-election manifesto - yet a few short months after they came to office (having attained only a minority of votes and having no public mandate) they embarked on a £3billion top down reorganisation of the sort Dave 'I love the NHS' Cameron promised would never happen.

If you don't believe me you can listen to his lies here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH2EmVGowCk

The RCN footage demonstrates the word of David Cameron should be taken with a large pinch of salt, while his anti-democratic style of leadership might have provoked a nostalgic smile, or Ronaldo type wink from predecessors who developed the art of shafting those with no political clout (yes, I'm talking about you, Tony)?

Is it any wonder people are disengaging from the political process - but then again maybe this is the express purpose of those who can take for granted a 5 year license not to listen in the wake of each general election?

I want a democracy where police are not walking about with machine guns, kettling a demo. This is Britain; we don't do guns. That is what our police are known for. This is our culture of moderation being trashed and flushed down the drain. It's outrageous.

" how about democracy based on the best interest of the electorate rather than the lobbyists and the corporations they represent?"

Selling this country for their own interest then?! Then we are all done and might as well flee asap! But flee where if everywhere now has politicians?! ... and Mars, is a bit hot for my liking ... :-)

Bottom line is, I can't think of our leaders like that A&E, I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt and 'trust' in them instead, not only the top man, but all those with him too unless 'proven' otherwise. 'Trust' is a big word, it's in effect putting them in a corner since when I say 'I trust you' I am handing you total responsibility for me! If I can trust a surgeon I have and will never see to hold a knife and cut me open, why not a politician too?! And you say they lie? We did that, we force them to lie because we won't cooperate if they told the truth! We force them to sneak in from behind with policies because we won't accept otherwise, and we push some of them to corruption because since we think they are all corrupt anyway, and not be just that?! The 'real' fault is in US! Would you distrust members of your family this way, what would happen then? 'We' need to change!

Now, I have no idea whether Cameron was telling a lie in that clip or if he'd been preparing for reform along the current lines all along while in opposition, but regardless, this is no time to cry over spilt milk because it won't get us anywhere. The bill has just passed the Lords and I strongly feel it will seal tomorrow or in a few days at the most, so it is upon us, FACT! ... and that is what we need to deal with.

Personally, I honestly feel the amended version will modernise the NHS in a way that will not just be better for patients, but for staff too. The Conservatives have only three years to the next general elections, a very tight time to prove their worth on the NHS or else ... and 'he' is not stupid! I take that into consideration too, plus, look at his announcement about involving private money to improve the country;s infrastructure today [on the No10 site] and you will then understand that this HSCB is but a part of his grand scheme to modernise so that we ourselves can then compete with the new rising powers around the globe, or how many more countries will you be prepared to allow to overtake Britain's economy?! And I like the overall plan too, since it invites this very economies who have surpassed us to bring that profit here so that we can surpass them again! Genius

BTW, it was the WDoc who first drew our attention to the 'fear of China' a few years ago! ... and if you look at the Dubai model or a piece of desert turned into an academic example of success in only 20 years, you will understand what Cameron is doing and you too will support him. I will, because the alternative is decline!

It's not private money, it's public money, our money being given to private companies. To spend as they wish. Commissioning themselves to provide services. And it's not just that.. Something died in me yesterday when I saw that picture of our police with machine guns. Moderation and fairness are the defining British qualities and the police and the NHS are classic British institutions. We weren't just the first with a national health service; we also had the first police force in the world. It was to remove public order issues from the remit of the military, and to ensure that there wasn't overreaction to demonstrations and suchlike. We have doggedly refused to cross the line and arm them as other countries have and British policing is seen as the gold standard for other forces, as indeed our NHS was. It is constitutional vandalism and two of our greatest institutions have been trashed in the space of a week.

I haven't seen this police with machine guns anywhere Julie so I don't know if it's for real. A bit of photoshop experience and you can do anything these days, remember that. For a government that is adopting transparency as of principle, I somehow can not believe it would put armed officers with machine guns on the street and impose a black out too! I'm just imagining if a few kids had a ball and it fell on one of those officers, eh? Would the government impose a black out to cover the resulting carnage too! >@_@<

As for public money, well, with around 35 trillion, whatever this is, pounds in debt, taxes are not enough to pay and modernise too, and both are a must, why the need for private money, lots of it - and from any willing provider ...


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