To the average punter in the street, there is a puzzling issue around our democracy: the disconnect between what the political elite think the public want and what the public actually want. Why is it that the political elite are so out of touch with the voters? Cast your thoughts back to how the media and main stream political parties reacted to UKIP 18 months ago? UKIP were roundly written off as racist, anti-diversity, disgusting, fascists, Nazis and just about any possible slur that the political-media-academic complex applies to anyone who dares question the status quo. However, now we have Cameron etc. cowering in the corner from Nasty Nige. Nige wins a couple of by elections, gives a spanking in the European elections, tempts over a high profile and much tipped Tory MP and suddenly, in the eyes of Dave, Ed , Nick and their cohorts, UKIP are accepted into the fold. “we must recognise that there are real concerns around immigration” said Dave. Well done Cameron, you got there eventually, but only after a democratic vote rammed it between your eyes.
Dave did exactly the same thing during the Scottish Referendum. The sheer panic when it looked like the arrogance and complacency of the political elite might have miscalculated the anger of Scottish voters in feeling isolated and ignored. They responded by hurling a planet sized cannonball across Westminster’s bows and Dave nearly went down in history as the ‘man who broke Britain’.
Well, how did Dave, Ed and Nick get the real political mood of the country so spectacularly wrong? They spend millions on polls and research, they have political apparatchiks whose only job is to second guess what us unwashed proles think. How on earth did they get it so terribly wrong and why is it that they are looking at continuing to get it wrong in the election in May?
It wasn’t just the political elite who seem to have misread this. The mainstream media, in particular the BBC are also demonstrating themselves to be increasingly out of touch with the viewer and listener.
To answer this one must go back to 1997 and Tony Blair’s triumph in the elections. Labour had been out of power for 19 years and they were hurting. In the echelons of the Labour party a plan was forming that would significantly cripple the ability of the right to come back as well as create a nation whose moral goalpost would be one of left of centre New Labour Social Democracy and to ensure that these agenda would exist to influence government even during times when Labour was not in power, “Shadow Government”. During the Blair and Brown years the state funding of NGOs and charities went through the roof. The creation of these bodies, entirely dependent on the state has had a huge impact on our democracy and may well be the reason why our political elite are so ‘out of touch’.
In a report published in June 2012 by The Institute of Economic Affairs called ; the author, Christopher Snowdon highlights this phenomenon and why we need to do something about it. His summary is very important and I reproduce it in it’s entirety here (page 7 of the report):
“In the last fifteen years, state funding of charities in Britain has
increased significantly while restrictions on political lobbying by
charities have been relaxed. 27,000 charities are now dependent
on the government for more than 75 per cent of their income and
the ‘voluntary sector’ receives more money from the state than
it receives in voluntary donations.
It has been argued that state funding weakens the independence
of charities, making them less inclined to criticise government
policy. This paper argues that there is a deeper problem if
government funds and/or creates pressure groups with the
intention of creating a ‘sock-puppet’ version of civil society which
creates the illusion of grass-roots support for new legislation.
These state-funded activists engage in direct lobbying (of
politicians) and indirect lobbying (of the public) using taxpayers’
money, thereby blurring the distinction between public and private
State-funded charities and NGOs usually campaign for causes
which do not enjoy widespread support amongst the general
public (e.g. foreign aid, temperance, identity politics). They
typically lobby for bigger government, higher taxes, greater
regulation and the creation of new agencies to oversee and
enforce new laws. In many cases, they call for increased funding
for themselves and their associated departments. In public choice
terms, they are ‘concentrated interests’ compelling the taxpayer
to meet the costs that come from their policies being implemented,
as well as the costs of the lobbying itself.
State-funded activism is not an entirely new phenomenon. The
EU’s ‘Green 10’ and the Department of Health’s anti-smoking
groups offer two examples where the close relationship between
pressure groups and the state has been well documented over
a number of years.
For political parties, the benefits of supporting ‘sock-puppet’
organisations extend beyond the short-term utility of progressing
their legislative agenda whilst in government. Once the party
loses power, these groups become a ‘shadow state’ using public
money to promote the same political ideology. The new government
must therefore choose between withdrawing the funding (which
will prompt outrage from the threatened groups) and keeping it
in place (which will mean funding politically hostile organisations).
Government funding of politically active charities, NGOs and
pressure groups is objectionable on three counts. Firstly, it
subverts democracy and debases the concept of charity. Secondly,
it is an unnecessary and wasteful use of taxpayers’ money.
Thirdly, by funding like-minded organisations and ignoring others,
genuine civil society is cold-shouldered in the political process.
The paper concludes by suggesting some solutions to help
restore the independence of the voluntary sector, safeguard
taxpayers’ money and rebalance civil society in favour of
Having pondered why our leaders are so out of touch, I was digging through my old files when I came across a copy of this report. On re reading it, I realised that here it was, an explanation of why there is a breakdown in the relationship between voter and politician. Snowdon’s report, probably well known in political think tank circles, looms like Cassandra over the current state of affairs.
The main issue revolves around the funding and sometimes creation of NGOs, usually run as Charities, by the government. In 2012, 27,000 charities were reliant on the government for over 75% of their income. The problem, as Snowdon argues in his report, is that there is a deeper issue if a government funds and or creates pressure groups with the intention of creating a ‘sock puppet’ version of civil society which creates the illusion of grass-roots support for new legislation. We are now seeing the fruits of this policy as these state funded activists have indeed engaged in direct lobbying (of politicians) and indirect lobbying (of the public) using taxpayers’ money and thereby blurring the distinction of public and private action but also in confusing politicians into believing that such activity is the democratic will of the people rather than what it really is. A self interested and self perpetuating NGO, reliant upon public funding for pay its salaries, continuing to demand ‘grass roots reform’ from the government and ably assisted and abetted by the media, in particular the BBC and specifically the Today Programme.
Not a day goes by on the Today programme without Naughty and Humphries announcing “in a new report by x organisation which does y something was demanded from government here is so and so from”Nice Cuddly Islamist Murderers” or such and such from “If you knew what was good for you you’d listen to us!” or that Ginger Bloke from “Stop Smerkin Tabs” They all have one thing in common, state funded NGO’s publishing reports demanding greater reform, more money etc. etc. etc. Now, some of these organisations may have a genuine concern which should be addressed, but as Snowdon said in in his report they “usually campaign for causes which do not enjoy widespread support amongst the general public (e.g. foreign aid, temperance, identity politics)” and are therefore hardly democratic. So these undemocratic organisations, giving the appearance of democratic movements, influence media and politicians to a far higher degree than the voters do. The voter, feeling increasingly exasperated at various policies and laws he or she never asked for and certainly don’t agree with being brought in willy nilly eventually loses their temper and votes UKIP, SNP or (God help us all, Green). The voters can’t make their voices heard because the NGO uses the voters’ cash to broadcast their message and demands across media, internet and in the lobby of the house. So voters’ cash is being used to effectively undermine the democracy of the nation by enforcing a centre left agenda whether we want it or not.
Worse, Snowdon highlights a phenomenon which he calls Shadow Government. After 12 years of New Labour and the social engineering of NGO, these organisations were so powerful and continue to captivate editors and politicians like rabbits in the headlights. Continue to preach their causes to the new government. Cameron did attempt to address this and closed down a few quangos but there are 27,000 of these organisations. Most founded during New Labour and most reflecting the policies of New Labour. This huge, publicly funded, self fuelling, incredibly powerful mass of centre left thought means that ANY government policy that doesn’t toe-the-line will be assaulted in the press, on the BBC and online by these organisations on the basis that the government is not listening to ‘grass roots’ organisations. This allows New Labour to continue to govern from beyond the political grave.
In some circumstances, this is annoying, but in others it is dangerous. ‘Industries’ develop around specific issues: breast feeding and anti-racism being two.
There is a strong scientific argument that breast is best. However, it is not the only option and there exists contrary medical evidence that formula milk is just as good and, in some circumstances better. In a free, democratic society mothers should be informed of all options and then allowed to make their own choice. That’s what should happen, unfortunately it does not. The breast feeding NGOs have ensured that the DH enforces breast is best. Midwives and doctors are not allowed to consider anything else, in fact are intimidated into not considering anything else. Mothers are bullied and hectored and made to feel second class and failures if they can’t or won’t breast feed. When our first was born, he wouldn’t take the nipple and his iron levels fell in the first couple of days. The Portuguese midwife, told us she would get us into A&E for a blood test and we really needed to get some milk into him. I asked about formula, she said that she wasn’t allowed to recommend it because giving a new born a bottle makes them less likely to take the nipple. But, off the record, yes get some Cow & Gate. Anyway, we took the wee man into hospital for his blood test. When the young Registrar asked us if he was taking the nipple yet and we indicated he wasn’t her response was :
”OK, I think we’ll admit mother and baby and if he hasn’t fed by this evening, we’ll put a tube into his nose and tummy.” My wife, knackered and emotional and feeling a failure tiredly nodded. However, fortunately I was there and was able to say:
“No, we will be going home now, and if he hasn’t taken the nipple by then we will give him a bottle. .“Oh, so you don’t want to breast feed then?”
“We will not be carrying out an invasive procedure on our new born son when a tried and tested alternative exists”
At this point the Registrar seemed to realise how absurd her suggestion had been and agreed with me.
So we have several NGOs all focused on breast feeding, all reliant upon government funding for their existence, who have bullied and hectored NHS trusts so effectively that doctors see formula milk as worse than carrying out an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous unnecessary procedure on a tiny baby. Our son, by the way is now a strapping 10 year old example of a northern European with a physical stature, blond hair and blue eyes that would have put Himmler into paroxysms of Aryan praise. He enjoys playing rugby for his local team and does very well in school.
Over the next few weeks, we saw several incidents including one where in a post natal class a father was pilloried by the breast feeding adviser for filling a bottle from a carton of formula milk rather than the child’s mother’s freshly pumped breast milk. When the father quietly explained that he didn’t have any breast milk because his wife had sadly, passed away during a difficult and complicated delivery and his only option was formula we can only imagine the expression of the advisor’s face.
Once we had our second child we knew what to expect and, now, In Scotland, were handed an expensively produced pamphlet from a Scottish NGO for Breast feeding that was so similar to the NHS trust’s own publicity you could have been forgiven in realising it was actually from an NGO. The pamphlet went on for over a dozen pages explaining why, in their opinion and the consensus in the UK, breast was best. Knowing what to expect I turned to the ‘advantages of breastfeeding’ page…one recommendation, I shit you not:
“breast feeding is better than formula because you don”t have to use the kettle and can therefore avoid potential scalding injuries”
How grateful were we to the NGO to have pointed out to us, with the use of several hundred thousand pounds of public money, that a water heating technology that we had mastered around the age of 10 can be dangerous. Really???
What is terrifying is that NOBODY pulls them up on this. Where is the newspaper article or the MP tearing into the NGO about this shoddy nonsense? The colossal waste of public funds is eye watering.
That’s the ‘breast feeding industry’, it’s bad enough but things get even more sinister in the ‘anti racism industry’.
Anyone who thinks that the colour of someone’s skin lessens that individual is a lunatic. In the UK, we have never had the race issues that they have in the States. Ed West in his excellent “The Diversity Illusion” does a very good job of going into the differences but also identifying that in our attempt to combat racism we are importing attitudes towards race that are alien to our experience as black, white, yellow, pink Britons. Racism is unacceptable. However, it is not enough to be non racist. You have to be ANTI racist. You must demonstrate how anti racist you are, how zealous you are in the application of anti racism. Now this is dangerous because it is exactly this type of zealotry that caused the police and social services in towns and cities up and down the country to ignore, wilfully ignore, the terrible abuse of non-Muslim children by male Muslims, in particular those of Pakistani and Afghan origin.
For years NGOs associated with anti racism and anti fascism have beaten this drum. Since The Macpherson Report (again see West on this, The Diversity Illusion). It wasn’t enough to indicate that perhaps the Met had not considered the racial element of the murder. No, the police had to confess that they were enemies of the people..I mean, that they were institutionally racist. This has created a culture where it is not acceptable to be non racist – unless you are actively ANTI racist, you are a racist. Four legs good, two legs bad,.
A few years ago I worked for a large, public sector organisation. I used to organise the recruitment within this organisation. Now, when organisations recruit, they often use competency based interviews where the candidate is asked questions relevant to the competency required. So therefore if we need good communication skills we may ask:
“Can you give us an example of a time in your career when you felt that your voice hadn’t been heard. What was the situation? What were you trying to say? How did you respond? What was the result? “
Now we would be looking for someone to modify their communication style to ensure their point was acknowledged. A valuable skill in any large, complex organisation.
Now one of the competencies we had was called ‘Diversity’ and we used this to find out how ‘anti racist’ someone was. It wasn’t enough for a candidate to answer that they understood the importance of catering to all, equally. No, we needed the candidate to demonstrate occasions when they had enforced anti racism. Enforced diversity. This ‘skill’ was rated so critical to the organisation that it could be the difference between hiring and not hiring. The organisation had a positive discrimination policy. There were quarterly meetings where we would look at the percentages of different people- how many from x ethnicity, how many from y sexual preference. We would ensure that we were hitting the figures, if we didn’t we would have the Campaign for Racial Equality all over us. The meeting included that strange type of public sector manager who have made their entire career out of enforcing the demands of NGOs. I can recall, when presenting our figures for one quarter, it had become apparent that indigenous, middle aged, straight males were in fact hugely under-represented in many areas in the business and I suggested, if we were going to hit our diversity mandate, we would have to start positively discriminating to hire indigenous, middle aged, straight males. You could have heard a pin drop.
All very amusing, however, it loses it’s humour when you realise that it was the culture fuelled by the anti-racism industry which caused police officers and council employees to look the other way when their first duty should have been to protect these children from child abuse. Mr Cameron, criminalising people for not reporting this won’t make an inkling of a difference. It is the culture of the witch hunt that has caused this culture. You will only change it by trusting the British public, on the whole a pretty decent and fair minded people, who aren’t racist and know what is right from what is wrong to decided when something is right and when it is wrong. You don’t have to be a member of the NKVD to detest Nazism, it is enough to condemn it and have nothing to do with it.
Snowdon’s report has more relevance now than it ever has. We are experiencing a time when our political leaders appear genuinely bewildered as to why they have lost the public. The whole sector desperately needs reformed as it is now poses a huge threat to our democracy because it appears to be grass roots when it is anything but grass roots. Snowdon makes several suggestions including removing funding from these organisations and restricting lobbying activities. It is the power of the publicly funded NGO which has given the minority powers over the majority. Which has resulted in mothers being condemned for not breast feeding; policemen turning a blind eye to blatant child abuse; environment laws that have seen us all spend billions on diesel cars that whilst cutting carbon, belt out lethal Nitrogen Oxide and Nitrogen Dioxide; and laws that would have you arrested for burning your own copy of the Koran but happily let you burn a Bible. Laws that make it a crime for you to upset someone because you criticise their religion.
It has created a culture where anyone who holds an opinion contrary to that of the political-media-academic complex is quickly marginalised and ad hominen attacked until they shut up. When Anne Marie Waters reasonably pointed out that the truth is, about a large number of Islamist Jew-hating misogynists who speak at British universities – while their critics are banned and censored. Having, of course committed the unforgivable and left the New Labour movement establishing Sharia Watch to highlight the spread of islamofacism. She was attacked in print by the far left’s champion of Islamiofascism, Hilary Aked. You can read Anne Marie’s robust response here. As of last week, Anne Marie tells me that Hilary hasn’t responded to her.
Much that the political-media-academic complex would deny it, Britons are very concerned about a number of issues: freedom of speech, the unequal application of the law in tolerating Muslim hate speech whilst arresting critics of Islam; immigration; EU Laws; lack of competition in big business; the desperate situation around housing; the failure of multiculturalism. These are all issues that face Britons day to day. The government and opposition look at them through the prism of NGO influence. This is not democracy, it is the dictatorship of the metropolitate.
What can we do about this?
Well, write to your MP, include a copy of the link to Christopher Snowdon’s article. Demand that politicians start listening to voters and not NGOs and lobbyists. Point out that it is the public funding of NGOs that is creating the disconnect and that it is a threat to democracy. If they don’t listen then hammer them at the polls in May.
As for Tony Blair?…..
“The Diversity Illusion”, Ed West, London, 2014 (paperback released on 26th March 2015 – currently available on Amazon as a Kindle book)
“Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why” by Christopher Snowdon, The Institute of economic affairs, June 2012
Carlos Malleum March 2015