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This is the man once labelled by Peter Oborne as "a well-known Eurosceptic". Does anyone still take Oborne seriously? Is there any intelligent being anywhere on this planet who really believes that Hague is a eurosceptic - or ever was?

Not to be outdone, though, we have Cameron - another of Oborne's "eurosceptics". Speaking at the start of the Conservative Party in Manchester, he tells is that he does not believe the UK should quit the EU - and he played down the prospect of the Government repatriating powers from Brussels in the near future.

I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!


It seems to have been a long journey since we started this blog – and I still write "we", even though my erstwhile co-editor has departed to her own blog. Writing here is very much a team effort, with much of the content guided and informed by the forum and the torrent of e-mail and Skype messages I get each day – to say nothing of the long and valuable telephone calls and the face-to-face political discussions in the local hostelries.

That it has been (and continues to be) a journey implies a beginning and an end, with a specific destination. At the outset, that destination seemed obvious – a United Kingdom free from the malign grip of the European Union. But that is no longer the case. It has become merely a way-station in a much longer journey.

The change of destination, I hope, explains what might otherwise appear to be an amount of incoherence on this blog. The change has not come easily or quickly, and we have spent many years realising that the EU is not the problem, or even part of the problem. The EU is merely the symptom of a much larger problem which starts and ends in the minds of this Island People, and those who would wish to rule us.

But if the EU is just a symptom, identifying the problem has not been that easy, and I am still not sure we are there, with the completeness of understanding that we would prefer. There is, though, enough to set out some observations, which seem to make some sense.

Here, I rely on my own potted version of history, which I have sought to articulate in pieces such as this and this, all pointing to how we are seeing a re-alignment of politics. The line which once marked the division between left and right has now rotated ninety degrees. We are no longer left or right, but above the line or below it.

With that, the journey becomes more of a process, a task – ultimately to remove that line, or to re-align it, so that there are more egalitarian divisions in society. Such divisions as there are should be between ideas, rather than determined by status, position and wealth, with the dominance of a permanent ruling class perched over us.

Thus, my political world is divided not by left and right but by "above the line" and below it. And, in many senses – from my position firmly "below the line" – that is how I see the world. That is how I distinguish friends and allies from political foes.

Some of my readers express puzzlement as to why I attack people who would appear to be our allies, the egregious Daniel Hannan, for instance. As a self-professed "eurosceptic" – he would seem to qualify as our ally in a common cause. However, I see him and many like him as "above the liners". For sure, Hannan would replace the autocracy of the EU – but with an autocracy of his own. He is, therefore, no friend of the people.

But what about "The Plan"? Thus do you ask about the famous offering from the Hannan and Carswell stable, which would bring us a new dawn of enlightenment, peace and prosperity? Except that it would do no such thing.

Like many of their ilk, this pair have stopped thinking. These are clever people so it is not that they are incapable of so doing. It is just that they have stopped doing it. Thus, they wrongly believe that "democracy" is a matter of having more and more tiers of elected officials – from tea ladies to mayors and police commissioners.

By this means, these people have lost sight of the essence of democracy – which is power to the people. Electing officials without having power over them is not democracy. It is simply an elective dictatorship. Turning this round, if we have power over our officials, it often becomes irrelevant whether they are elected or not. Elections are not a necessary condition for democracy and, even if they were desirable, they are certainly not sufficient.

As a very small example, you have to ask whether our representatives would be any better or any worse if they were appointed by a randomly selected jury who interviewed prospective candidates and chose them on the basis of merit. Or would our parliament be any the worse if our MPs were picked at random by computer?

On the other hand, it was "democratically elected" MPs who took us into the Common Market, and "democratically elected" MPs keep us in the EU. If we, the people, forced them to pull the UK out, by marching on Westminster, ransacking the parliament and putting to the sword the denizens - that would not conform with most people's idea of an election. But it would be democracy.

So it is that my pursuit of a more egalitarian and democratic society rests on the pursuit of power – for the people. I do not hold with the premise dear to the heart of the "above the liners" that the people cannot be trusted – and that we must elect only the pre-selected few to guide us to the path of righteousness and enlightenment. Nor do I accept that more elected officials is any answer.

In particular, I have far greater trust in the sense of the people than I do in the good faith of the ruling élites. My fundamental premise is that, in a society where people truly have power, they will grow into their responsibilities and use their power wisely. Even if they do not always do so, they can do no worse than our élites, who periodically "guide" us to war, famine and disaster, all in the name of peace and stability.

Democracy, therefore, is the destination. We seek democracy, in its true sense, not the pastiche that masquerades as such.

That then leaves us with the minor problem of how to achieve this desirable state but, here, we are beginning to formulate some principles of our own. Firstly, we take at as a given that the EU has reached it point of no return. The battle is not yet won, but the collapse of the "project" is now inevitable. In fact, it always was inevitable, as we wrote in The Great Deception in 2003. It is just that it is more obvious now.

Secondly, the collapse will make no great difference to us. Given our current governmental structure, our unaccountable ruling élite is quite capable of making a mess unaided. It does not need the EU. As we said, the EU is a symptom not the cause.

Thus, the real battle lines are over the shape of a post-EU United Kingdom. But we can't really talk about "restoring" democracy. In truth, we've never really had it. We need to take the next step towards the goal of achieving it, there having been no real developments since the Chartists took us towards universal suffrage.

As a result, the third principle we come to is the famous Tip O'Neill aphorism, that all politics is local. For democracy to work it must, in the first instance, be exerted locally. And here, we have a real problem. Not only did Heath destroy central government by taking us into the Common Market, he destroyed local government with the Walker "reforms" and the 1973 local government reorganisation.

Even before then, we had a top-down government, weak councils and excessive power at the centre. Over the years since 1973, this has got worse, with the accountability made even more fragile by the introduction of cabinet government, and the Bains Report dictum of all-powerful chief officers and delegated powers.

Thus, to bring democracy, we must address it first at a local level, altering the balance of power between local and central government. That is not "localism" - it is democracy. Democracy is local, first and foremost. Thus, it is a necessary part and parcel of a democratic state than we have a vibrant democracy at the lowest tiers of government.

It goes without saying, though, that it is not safe to give local councils more power until we have more power over those councils. And that means money. We must control the purse strings … the essence of the Referism concept. As long as we have "masters" who decide year-on-year how much we must pay them, and our choice is only how we pay them, there can be no democracy.

There lies the battleground – in my view. We perhaps need to be more formal, in setting out our lists of demands, as did the Chartists. And then we set out to make ourselves ungovernable until our demands are met.

Free people do not have rulers. Their governments are servants. We, in this benighted country of ours, have rulers – the "above the line" autocrats – in our town halls, in Whitehall and in Brussels. We will not be free until we clear out the lot of them and take control. Getting rid of Brussels is only a start, and by no means enough.

Autonomous Mind says it superbly. We must re-draw the line. Only then can we continue the march our forefathers started - towards real democracy.


Booker in a reflective mood talks about the five stages of the "fantasy cycle", as it applies to the EU … with the "colleagues" locked into the "nightmare stage", awaiting nemesis. For the Hague, though, Booker is going to have to re-structure his theory. He is still trapped in the fantasy stage, the tragic puer aeternus who will move straight from there to nemesis without transitioning the other stages.

Nevertheless, says Booker, we are witnessing the unfolding of one of the great archetypal patterns that shape human affairs, one we can compare to the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

The EU's leaders frenziedly rush about trying to stop their magic broomstick running amok, as it fills their house with ever more buckets full of debt. The hapless victim of the old fable was eventually saved by the return of the sorcerer, who knew the magic spell that could avert final disaster.

In the case of the EU, there is no sorcerer. There seems to be no means by which Europe's leaders can halt the chaos that now threatens to bring down the euro, much of the world's financial system – and, ultimately, even the EU itself. But since this must happen, the sooner the better. We really need to get this over and done with.


As we struggle to meet the ever-increasing demands of City Hall bureaucrats, the councillors who should be keeping a grip on the spending are themselves living it up to the tune of £1.8 million paid out in wages and allowances - a three percent rise on last year.

More than 35 councillors claimed more than £20,000 each and, of those, ten took home more than £30,000. Two councillors claimed more than £40,000 and the highest earner was Labour Councillor Ian Greenwood (Lab, Little Horton), who as leader of the Council was paid a total of £49,414.

This is the man who presides over the Council Tax Fraud, ripping off the poorest and most vulnerable tax payers in the City by illegally inflating fees for late payment of local taxes.

If, of course, the councillors did provide a check on the Council (and some are certainly trying), they might be worth their payments in a city with a half-million population – bigger than some countries.

But Greenwood's hands-off approach to official theft has catapulted the City to the top of the league on the "Greed Index" (above), based on what different councils are charging. Sending out nearly five times as many summonses as the lowest council, it also charges on average seven times the rate of the cheapest.

Bradford is thus capitalising on the hardship of the many, exploiting them as a business opportunity to yield in excess of £3.2 million a year, giving the council a comfortable surplus with which to pay their councillors and have six-figure sums left over for their chief officers' salaries and pensions.

And while the Labour leadership is silent on the issue, so too is Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Con, Ilkley). But then, as leader of the Tory group for a year from May 2010, she is the second-highest beneficiary of the council rip-off, claiming a total of £42,107.

Not a single penny of this, though, was ever democratically mandated. The taxpayers were never asked if they wanted paid councillors, much less chief officers on six-figure salaries. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that nearly one in six households withhold their taxes until they receive a court order forcing them to pay.

With local democracy having all but broken down, such resistance is all that is left to us … for the moment. As the rip-off continues, though, many are taking the view that this is not enough. The "Greedy City" is on notice.


A revealing piece is to be found in the Bournemouth Daily Echo, retailing news of a plea by Dorset Fire Service for more money.

There is nothing unusual in that, you might feel, except that, despairing of a free hand at the till, county fire chief Darran Gunter is appealing over the heads of the politicians, making an appeal directly to the public. He is asking people to support "a small rise in Council Tax" to offset an expected reduction in the central government support grant.

What is revealing though is that that, having exhausted all other options for more money, the beleaguered fire chief turns as a last resort to the people themselves. This might thus have the elements of Referism, except that the public is only being given the option of shelling out more money.

However, there was a time when such an option was given to a limited number of people, as an experiment and, in the interest of equity, it is about time it was repeated. If we are deemed by our masters as worth consulting when they want more money, then the other way around should also apply. We must take the power to decide how much we pay them in the first place.


As Charles Moore reminds us, this coming week – starting on Sunday – sees the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

Moore then goes through the ritual of advising the man who calls himself our prime minister. Opinion polls, he says, tell a story of quiet acceptance of the way things are, and Moore acknowledges that things must get worse before they can get better. And with that, he tells us that Cameron needs to give us a stronger sense next week of what that better might be.

If he does, I for one will not be listening. The television news will not be watched and, on the occasions when I sit in front of the idiots' lantern for a meal, 40-year-old repeats of MASH are preferable to the hand-wavers and their faux political dramas.

As for Cameron, he has nothing to say to me or mine. There is not the "quiet acceptance" that Moore would aver. Rather, there is complete indifference to anything the Tory leader might say or do. He is a factor in our lives only because, by virtue of his office, he has some residual power and a capacity to do us harm. When he passes, we will not miss him or even care.

The drama, such that it is, rests with Brussels – and other points on the benighted continent of Europe, which is tearing itself apart over the vainglory of the EU experiment. Ambrose forecasts its demise. After many false starts – his analysis this time is spot on. The euro is finished. Germany will see to that. And with it will go the EU, even if it takes some time.

Meanwhile, we are left with the wreckage of a governmental system which has been decaying since the Second World War – and was not up to much before then. But the same Heathite enthusiasm for corporate gigantism brought us not only the Common Market but also local government reorganisation.

The so-called Walker "reforms" in 1973 have destroyed local government every bit as much as our membership of the EU has destroyed central government. Every tier of our government is in terminal decay, beyond the reach of the posturing that will dominate this week in Manchester.

Strangely, though, the smell of decay in the air is encouraging. The giant tree which, for decades seemed a permanent feature of the landscape, solid and immovable, is now rotten to the core. One stiff gale will bring it down. And the gap left presents an opportunity – for new growth, for new experiments and, possibly, a new beginning.

But, whatever optimism and encouragement there might be, we will not find it in Manchester, nor in any of the established political parties, large or small. These are the constructs of the nineteenth and twentieth Century. They are the ghosts of the past, their faces distorted and blurred beyond recognition or memory.

This time a hundred years ago, we were three years away from a World War. There is the same feeling of impending change with us now. The post-war settlement is finally breaking down. In a few years time, new things, the shape of which we can only guess, will be emerging.

By the end of this decade a hundred years ago, we were looking at a world that had irrevocably changed. That same wind of change is blowing now. Ambrose sees it. I can see it and many of my readers are only too aware of it. But, next week, it will by-pass Manchester. Yesterday's figures will posture and preach. And we shall ignore them.