In the clip from ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ above, Secretary to the Cabinet, Sir Humphrey Appleby GCB, KBE, MVO, MA (Oxon) dines with former Secretary to the Cabinet, Sir Arnold Robinson GCMG, CVO, MA (Oxon), and discusses the next Prime Minister following the the announcement that the incumbent will be stepping down.
Britain is a democracy, we can all agree on that.
True, it probably could be more democratic, and more meritocratic, but when all said and done, decision makers are accountable to the people. We elect our representatives, they determine, design and pass our laws, and if we don’t like what they’re doing, we ultimately have the power to boot them out. Power lies with the people, and nobody else.
Unrealistic and idealist conceptions are usually to be found on the left, but I’ve written above is often accepted by the right.
On Wednesday, an article appeared in the Telegraph which discussed a list, drawn up by GQ Magazine, of the most influential men in Britain. Top of the list, Boris Johnson, mostly due to his contribution to the Olympic Games, closely followed by David Cameron. You may have thought Dave would’ve trumped Boris, but otherwise that’s not a particularly surprising result. But while the top two men are household names, the third is less so; Sir Jeremy Heywood.
Sir Jeremy Heywood KCB, CVO, is, as you’ve probably guessed by now, Cabinet Secretary.
The third most influential man in this country, ahead of the likes of Michael Gove, Lord Justice Leveson, the Governor of the Bank of England, even No. 10’s Director of Communications, is a humble and somewhat unknown bureaucrat.
But then again, Michael Gove doesn’t have unrestricted access to the Prime Minister; Lord Justice Leveson the power to remove and replace Permanent Secretaries, and even Andrew Cooper can’t write the agenda of Cabinet meetings.
You may be wondering why I’m banging on about this. Moaning about how a small elite influence the running of our country does seem remarkably unconservative. But actually, it isn’t. What I’m going to introduce over my next series of posts (mostly to keep you in suspense, but also to save me from writing War & Peace now) is a theory of power which defines my political views. It’s both a guide to and critique of our current system, but unlike many similar ideas, it does not blame those in the system. They’re not immoral or wrong; they’re just being human.
The fault lies with us, the British people.
A proper understanding of where power truly lies in a modern democracy is necessarily if anything is ever to be changed, and it’s an understanding that anyone who believes in a smaller state must have. Or anyone who wants to write a highly successful political and satirical comedy series.