Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 15 2016: Will we have Democracy or “De Mock-racy”?

Will we have Democracy or “De Mock-racy”?

kingBRADES, Montserrat, April 14, 2016 – Last time, we saw how there are two very different visions of what democracy is:

a] politicians must pander to voters to gain power so they can share out the scarce benefits and spoils of power, vs.

b] government is and should be accountable to the people for justice and competence.

That is why I found it so very important that Hon Premier Romeo raised concerns about true leadership and the significance of the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta during his budget speech:

“This budget builds on the Government’s Policy Agenda . . .  as we work as a team towards fulfilling our national vision of a wholesome, healthy, green, entrepreneurial Montserrat with high quality jobs – a nation that can stand up firmly on its own two feet.

Madam Speaker, this vision requires true leadership: “to act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with our God.”

So, as public servants, we must first ensure justice for all — the citizens, residents and friends of Montserrat at home and abroad. Justice leads to good governance – a safe, crime- and corruption- free, fair nation. For this very reason, 800 years ago, the leaders of England forced King John to promise in the Magna Carta that ‘to no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.’

He went on:

. . . to love mercy we must focus on people, especially our youth and more vulnerable . . . But, mercy is balanced by justice, so while we must give people chances to address their mistakes, we must enforce integrity, performance and Civil Service ethics.

Thirdly, we walk humbly together under God – We are public servants, serving the people, not as masters in the way we behave or treat one another.”

One of the responses to this during the Budget debate was a dismissive one-liner, in effect, do you know anything else about the Magna Carta.

For one, Micah 6:8 is a call to honourable, humble, just service as leaders, as public servants – and as citizens. For two, on June 15th 1215, King John of England was brought to heel at Runnymede by the rebel Barons because he had acted in a high-handed way to pay for a war in France (which he also managed to lose). Archbishop of Canterbury Samuel Langton then took the opportunity to lay out in the charter the principles behind bills of rights, rule of law, the recognition that the King and his agents too are not above the law and much more. For three, Magna Carta is therefore a key root of why we have a parliament and of why the annual budget with taxes, revenues, and expenditures is publicly debated and approved by representatives of the people. In short, Magna Carta is a foundational document for sound democracy, liberty and parliamentary government and thus it is a high-point of Britain’s contribution to the progress of humanity; one, that should be acknowledged and even celebrated.

Then, after the debate a media report resorted to equally cynically dismissing “platitudinous waffle.”

By way of telling contrast, I note some remarks[1] made in The Cayman Islands Journal in April 2015:

The Magna Carta has been heralded as a bastion of freedom, its defining principles taken up by defenders of democracy around the world . . . in the U.K., many regard it as the written part of Britain’s unwritten constitution . . . .

To underline the principle of the rule of law, perhaps the most important provision is Clause 45, which states: “We will not make men justices, constables, sheriffs or bailiffs unless they are such as know the law of the realm, and are minded to observe it rightly.” 

. . . . The landmark element here is the phrase, “minded to observe it rightly.” From this phrase stems today’s vast body of Administrative Law . . . . every administrator has a duty to be neither arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable nor unfair, particularly with respect to administrative decisions affecting the public . . .

That contrast of attitude and substance goes to the heart of why public servants and citizens alike here in Montserrat urgently need to reform and renew our collective vision of lawful democratic government.  We too need to solemnly vow that “to no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.

The days of “advantage” are over.

For instance, consider that five percent of 3,000 voters is 150 voters, maybe 120 families. What if that many families would be willing to vote for politicians or parties that (whether by outright cash or by doing valuable favours) pay them an average of $1,000. This is a simple example but obviously that clever little trick would add five percent to party X’s votes, and cut off the same five percent of votes from party Y’s candidates.  If the parties are running close that ten percent “advantage” could easily decide an election, for what boils down to a bribe of $ 120,000.  Of course, a lot more would have to be spent by a party and its candidates to bring them to the level of being serious competitors; but the basic point is there. Irresponsible politicians and voters could easily undermine the integrity of our elections. And of course some backers who provide money for political campaigns are also likely to be expecting a “return” on their “investments.” Including, when government contracts or jobs are “sharing out.”

Such a possibility is sobering.

This again brings up another point from Mr Romeo’s budget speech: “We will continue improving our governance as this is the key to unlocking funding from our development partners, as it will give them confidence that their funds will be spent wisely and with due care for value-for-money.”  For, if we are to move ahead on development, good governance reforms are a must – not least, to rebuild the trust and confidence of our development partners. But, if is always a very powerful word.

END –

[1]           http://www.journal.ky/2015/04/01/the-magna-carta-800-years-on/

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Will we have Democracy or “De Mock-racy”?

kingBRADES, Montserrat, April 14, 2016 – Last time, we saw how there are two very different visions of what democracy is:

a] politicians must pander to voters to gain power so they can share out the scarce benefits and spoils of power, vs.

Insert Ads Here

b] government is and should be accountable to the people for justice and competence.

That is why I found it so very important that Hon Premier Romeo raised concerns about true leadership and the significance of the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta during his budget speech:

“This budget builds on the Government’s Policy Agenda . . .  as we work as a team towards fulfilling our national vision of a wholesome, healthy, green, entrepreneurial Montserrat with high quality jobs – a nation that can stand up firmly on its own two feet.

Madam Speaker, this vision requires true leadership: “to act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with our God.”

So, as public servants, we must first ensure justice for all — the citizens, residents and friends of Montserrat at home and abroad. Justice leads to good governance – a safe, crime- and corruption- free, fair nation. For this very reason, 800 years ago, the leaders of England forced King John to promise in the Magna Carta that ‘to no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.’

He went on:

. . . to love mercy we must focus on people, especially our youth and more vulnerable . . . But, mercy is balanced by justice, so while we must give people chances to address their mistakes, we must enforce integrity, performance and Civil Service ethics.

Thirdly, we walk humbly together under God – We are public servants, serving the people, not as masters in the way we behave or treat one another.”

One of the responses to this during the Budget debate was a dismissive one-liner, in effect, do you know anything else about the Magna Carta.

For one, Micah 6:8 is a call to honourable, humble, just service as leaders, as public servants – and as citizens. For two, on June 15th 1215, King John of England was brought to heel at Runnymede by the rebel Barons because he had acted in a high-handed way to pay for a war in France (which he also managed to lose). Archbishop of Canterbury Samuel Langton then took the opportunity to lay out in the charter the principles behind bills of rights, rule of law, the recognition that the King and his agents too are not above the law and much more. For three, Magna Carta is therefore a key root of why we have a parliament and of why the annual budget with taxes, revenues, and expenditures is publicly debated and approved by representatives of the people. In short, Magna Carta is a foundational document for sound democracy, liberty and parliamentary government and thus it is a high-point of Britain’s contribution to the progress of humanity; one, that should be acknowledged and even celebrated.

Then, after the debate a media report resorted to equally cynically dismissing “platitudinous waffle.”

By way of telling contrast, I note some remarks[1] made in The Cayman Islands Journal in April 2015:

The Magna Carta has been heralded as a bastion of freedom, its defining principles taken up by defenders of democracy around the world . . . in the U.K., many regard it as the written part of Britain’s unwritten constitution . . . .

To underline the principle of the rule of law, perhaps the most important provision is Clause 45, which states: “We will not make men justices, constables, sheriffs or bailiffs unless they are such as know the law of the realm, and are minded to observe it rightly.” 

. . . . The landmark element here is the phrase, “minded to observe it rightly.” From this phrase stems today’s vast body of Administrative Law . . . . every administrator has a duty to be neither arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable nor unfair, particularly with respect to administrative decisions affecting the public . . .

That contrast of attitude and substance goes to the heart of why public servants and citizens alike here in Montserrat urgently need to reform and renew our collective vision of lawful democratic government.  We too need to solemnly vow that “to no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.

The days of “advantage” are over.

For instance, consider that five percent of 3,000 voters is 150 voters, maybe 120 families. What if that many families would be willing to vote for politicians or parties that (whether by outright cash or by doing valuable favours) pay them an average of $1,000. This is a simple example but obviously that clever little trick would add five percent to party X’s votes, and cut off the same five percent of votes from party Y’s candidates.  If the parties are running close that ten percent “advantage” could easily decide an election, for what boils down to a bribe of $ 120,000.  Of course, a lot more would have to be spent by a party and its candidates to bring them to the level of being serious competitors; but the basic point is there. Irresponsible politicians and voters could easily undermine the integrity of our elections. And of course some backers who provide money for political campaigns are also likely to be expecting a “return” on their “investments.” Including, when government contracts or jobs are “sharing out.”

Such a possibility is sobering.

This again brings up another point from Mr Romeo’s budget speech: “We will continue improving our governance as this is the key to unlocking funding from our development partners, as it will give them confidence that their funds will be spent wisely and with due care for value-for-money.”  For, if we are to move ahead on development, good governance reforms are a must – not least, to rebuild the trust and confidence of our development partners. But, if is always a very powerful word.

END –

[1]           http://www.journal.ky/2015/04/01/the-magna-carta-800-years-on/