The Fuel Tax protest is not just a protest against higher taxation. It is a symptom of something much more significant. Our democracy is under threat. To the politician representative democracy has come to mean on election day only but to the people representative democracy means all of the time.. The result of this is that the people have become deeply cynical about politicians.
Freedom is the ability of a people to govern themselves with protection for the rights of minorities. Democracy is the process by which the will of the majority is determined. Under this Labour Government democracy has become distorted. In three years we have seen Local Government forced to adopt structures which devalue the role of the Councillor; Regional Assemblies introduced by stealth with no democratic accountability; the House of Lords almost wholly appointed; devolution in different ways in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland upsetting the constitutional balance; the European Union taking more power yet because of the Party list system members of the European Parliament are unaccountable to the electorate.
When people find that democracy no longer determines the will of the majority they stop voting and turnout at elections drops – well illustrated by the low turn out in the European elections last year. The next stage in the process of alienation from the democratic process is to take to the streets. We are now at that point. Who can restore democracy? We cannot look to our politicians for they are controlled by political parties which themselves are undemocratic. The Trade Unions still dominate the Labour Party and in the Conservative Party the Chairman, Vice Chairmen and Treasurer are all appointed positions. Both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party are controlled by cabals, cliques and wealthy donors.
The Fuel Tax protest is the beginning of many such protests which will continue until the people’s faith in democracy is restored. The first thing the politicians should do is to put their own houses in order by creating democratic political parties. Then they can address the task of creating a truly democratic and free society. Who has the vision and leadership to put their trust in the people?