Monday, 7 November 2016

Yes, Judges Should Be Elected

UKIP leadership contender Suzanne Evans has caused a stir today by suggesting, following the High Court decision that Parliament should have to sanction the triggering of Article 50, that judges should be subject to democratic control.  She refused to be drawn on exactly what democratic control she had in mind.  Yet, no one should be alarmed that the judges who exercise huge power within the state and the constitution should be subject to democratic control.   Anyone who has watched old cowboy films, or current US crime dramas, should be aware that in the US not only judges, but also other elements of the legal system, such as District Attorneys are elected by their local communities.  Such democratic control has always been a part of the US Constitution, along with the election of sheriffs and other law officers, of mayors, and civil servants.  That the UK media should be so alarmed at the idea that high-powered sections of the British state should have to be elected, just reflects how undemocratic Britain still is, and the extent to which its own bourgeois revolution undertaken at the start of the 19th century remains incomplete.

The idea that judges are "independent", or "impartial", is, of course nonsensical.  The notion that this lack of impartiality and independence only now makes them "enemies of the people" as the gutter press has proclaimed, is only because the judges have come out with a judgement that challenges the reactionary political agenda of that gutter press.  That same gutter press had no complaints about that same judiciary when it was ruling against striking workers, or upholding anti-union, anti-working class laws imposed by conservative governments.

If Britain wants to claim to be a modern 21st. century bourgeois democracy, then it has to comply with the basic requirements of such a society.  What the EU referendum, and the High Court ruling on Brexit has demonstrated, is the opacity of British bourgeois democracy, and the continual contradictions that arise from having an undemocratic, and unwritten constitution.  It demonstrates that in a whole series of areas, it is necessary to push forward the basic principles of bourgeois democracy, and to complete the political revolution that was started 200 years ago.

Not only should judges be regularly elected, but so too should all of the military top brass, that have such a significant role to play.  We now have elected Police and Crime Commissioners, but they do not have the same kind of powers and control that Police Commissioners in the have, for example.  had we had elected Police Chiefs back in the 1980's, at the time of the Miners' Strike, it would not have prevented Thatcher's government from using the full force of the bodies of armed men that comprise the state, to smash those working-class communities, because she would have organised that on a national level, bypassing local control.  However, a South Yorkshire Police Chief, elected largely by workers in that area, would have made it more difficult for Thatcher to organise such action as occurred at Orgreave, and would have meant we would not have had to wait more than a quarter century to get the truth of Hillsborough.

The real power in the state rests not with politicians but with the permanent state officials that comprise the top echelons of the Civil Service.  They too should be regularly elected.  But, as I have also suggested in the past, the last few years, has slightly opened the curtain on all of those golden threads that connect these various elements of the state, but also tie them to the top media barons such as Rupert Murdoch.  When we get a row such as that we have had in the last few days over the High Court ruling, it is merely down to the thieves falling out in their kitchen, as they squabble over their own particular interests.

We need to open the books on all these relations, on the wealth and income of all those who own the media, and yes, of those top journalists, paid huge salaries, who reflect their interests.  The civil service unions, just as with the journalists and media unions, who represent the thousands of ordinary people working in those sectors have an important part to play in pushing for such an opening of the books, and democratic control over those that exercise such power without ever having been elected.

The Tories have complained about the possibility of an unelected House of Lords blocking Brexit. But, they have never complained in the past when thats ame House of Lords blocked legislation from Labour governments.  In either case, such an unelected institution is an abomination for any society that claims to be a bourgeois democracy, as is the existence of the Monarchy and its coterie of hangers on.

The truth is that all of this class of people that dominate the state are "enemies of the people".  They come from the same privileged background; they go to the same schools; they intermarry into each others families, they have vast amounts of fictitious wealth that enables them to enjoy the same standard of living and drives them towards similar interests to protect that wealth, and those relations.

The same applies to the way they exercise control over industry.  Control over the businesses that people work in should rest with those that work within the business, just as control over the Parliament, and of the institutions of the state should rest with the inhabitants of the country.  But, it doesn't.  It is not workers and managers that control the businesses they work in, but the people who lend money to those businesses, in return for shares.  Allowing shareholders who merely lend money to the business, to elect its Board of Directors, and to determine its policy is like allowing your mortgage provider to tell you what colour you can paint your house, what you can grow in your garden, and what activities you can engage in in your house!

It is time for workers to actually take back control, and not in the way that the Kippers, and the Tory Brexiteers proposed.

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