It also involves awe-inspiring levels of spin which would have Tony Blair applauding in delight and rapturous admiration.
In a speech delivered this morning the deputy prime minister promised the coalition government will introduce the "biggest shake up of our democracy" since the 1832 Great Reform Act.Note that he didn't actually say that they would listen, as proven by cuddly Clegg's cosy little cafe chat with us over the weekend.
"As we tear through the statute book, we'll do something no government ever has: we will ask you which laws you think should go," he added.
Got that? Not only is an amendment to the smoking ban not to be considered, it is "of course" not going to be considered. With a smile and a cheeky chuckle. The cunt.
At time of writing, discussions on amending the smoking ban have attracted more than double the comments of those on any other subject. Not only that, the number of people 'asking' Nick for such an amendment was so large that the moderators were forced to close their additions to the debate and redirect the many contributors to other threads. That, too, presented problems as there were so many threads that moderators became confused as to where they were supposed to be redirecting, leading to commenters being pointed to discussions which had also already been closed.
Cleary, then, there was a very hefty reaction to Clegg's stimulus, just as John Redwood experienced when asking the same general question as that posed by the Your Freedom site, back in May.
The most popular repeal from contributors to my website would be to repeal the section in the Health Act that bans smoking in all public places, to allow smoking again in specified rooms and areas.Now, if Clegg was truly asking the public which laws to revisit, such a weighty response would merit at least a debate on the matter. But instead the issue has exposed the entire 'crowd-sourcing' exercise as a highly elaborate con trick.
Liberal Vision's Tom Papworth (from whom I pinched the headline) predicted as much last month.
In practice, however, one has to wonder just how genuine this exercise will be. Please don’t misunderstand! I do not think for one moment that our new Ministers are consciously planning to provide us with a sham consultation. But do you really think that in practice they will approach this exercise with an open mind?There can't be a more closed mind than one which states that 'of course' the coalition aren't even going to consider widescale antipathy and resentment towards a law enacted without electoral mandate and which was forced through, employing skullduggery and lies, thereby roughly bludgeoning reasonable democratic process along the way.
Especially when it can easily be argued to fit Clegg's three criteria for consideration.
The Deputy Prime Minister asks people to concentrate on three areas:Arguably ...
- Laws that have eroded civil liberties (1).
- Regulations that stifle the way charities and businesses work (2).
- Laws that are not required and which are likely to see law-abiding citizens criminalised (3).
1) There cannot be a more egregious contravention of civil liberties than to deny a property owner and his/her customers some form of self-determination over their own interaction.
2) Especially when it stifles the way pubs, for example, work, and have done for hundreds of years. Thousands have closed, over 1,400 before any recession showed itself, and the government itself have conceded that businesses are suffering under the Health Act, and are entitled to a rebate on their rates. Remember too that Clegg's blithe dismissal means that the ridiculous and entirely health-irrelevant 50% rule for outside shelters is also not to be reconsidered.
3) As the government never tire of telling us, the smoking ban is wildly popular so why would a law be required (unless there are porkies being told here)? What's more, I reckon Nick Hogan may have something to say about the criminalisation - and incarceration - of property owners by government sanction.
All criteria have been satisfied; all questions have been answered; boxes ticked; engagement entered into; time spent; co-operation delivered. Yet the coalition have abjectly failed to meet the basic requirements expected from a government which professes to embrace liberty and inclusion ... while at the same time proving that they are as wedded to single interest pressure groups, fake charities, state-funded quangoes and the hideously self-centred in society who demand an absolute veto over the lives of others, as the last lot.
Listening to the people, my arse.
The Your Freedom website has been a disastrously implemented (the thing crashed repeatedly for the first couple of days and is still slow) exercise in futility. For the public, anyway. For Clegg, it gave him the chance to pretend he was something that he is not ... a liberal.
Instead, he was the school teacher asking his pupils what kind of play they would like to stage. Brightly responding to every reply with "good idea, Johnny", "great suggestion, Jane", before settling on the one response which matched the scenery he had already instructed the caretaker to produce. The class are convinced they had an input, but 'teach' knows exactly how he manipulated his charges.
Clegg quite clearly isn't interested in listening to the public on this, he only wishes to repeal laws which the coalition have already discussed and decided upon. And when tabling the bill that they have already written, he will point to suggestions from Bill in Rochdale, Margaret in Swansea and Rob in Maidstone as being the sole motivation.
More applause from Tony Blair.
So what are we to take from this charade? Well, I'd venture to suggest that we're now governed by yet more fuckwitted morons who wish to dance through life doing as they please, whilst simultaneously being baffled as to why the public trust them less than they would a beardy beggar on heroin.
All of which leaves only one suggestion as valid for the website. That the entire site be consigned to the dustbin as a waste of our taxes. It's a fucking sham.
H/T Taking Liberties
UPDATE: There is still one topic left on the Your Freedom site which is relevant.
This "consultation" is a sham, give us free speech