So the Tories are inviting the public to jointhe Government of Britain and pledge to hand power to the people. Where exactly do they think power is located in Britain today?
The most powerful institution in Britain today – more powerful than the Government itself as the recent banking crisis has clearly shown – is the financial sector concentrated in the City of London. Is there a single word in the 130-page Tory manifesto about curbing that power? No.
The next most powerful institution is the media, symbolised by Murdoch and his chilling grip on a large part of Britain’s so-called ‘free press’ (anything but free if he has anything to do with it). Do the Tories have anything in their manifesto about creating a genuinely free press, one that legitimately represents the plurality and diversity in British society today? Not if they can help it.
And the third really powerful institution is the industrial lobby, headed the CBI and the colossal trans-national mega-corporations who with their industrial and financial muscle are able to get their way by whatever mix of monopoly market power, threats and intimidation, and where necessary corruption fits the circumstances of the moment. Is that overweening power going to be democratised by the Tories? You needn’t tell me.
What we’re actually offered for this grandiose claim by the Tories is:
* referendums on local issues if 5% of the population sign up (but why not on national matters which is where the real power lies?),
* plans for public sector co-ops (but who controls the money?),
* and a re-write of Thatcher’s property-owning democracy by permanently raising the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first-time buyers (but if house-building has collapsed to its lowest level for almost a century, this won’t extend choice, it will merely force up prices still further).
That’s like, when there’s a tsunami brewing on the horizon, playing sand-castles on the beach. It’s shadow-boxing, not the politics of real power.