Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. It is the first film in what became a large Alien franchise. Based on a story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, it follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo who encounter the eponymous Alien, a deadly and aggressive extraterrestrial set loose on the ship.

Where this article is concerned I have to ask from what planet is the author? Whilst possibly an ‘alien’ and deadly, due to his sycophancy of his ‘Guru’, unfortunately where the progression of direct democracy is concerned he is not sufficiently aggressive due to the fact he appears to lack a mind of his own.

To take his points in order, together with his comments which are in italics:

1. The roots of the Chartist Movement were partly political and partly economic – A combination of both makes the ‘People’ dissatisfied.

I am at a loss to understand his comment. If he is implying that the combination of politics and economics makes the people ‘dissatisfied’ then he is contradicting this aspect of the 6 Demands of THA and the idea of ‘referism‘.  On the other hand, if he is implying that the people are not content with the economic power that politics has over the economy, then perhaps he has a point. Unfortunately the ambiguity of his comment leaves one to wonder if he engaged brain prior to committing fingers to keyboard.

2. The mass discontent in Lancashire and Yorkshire were motivated by economic distress and social exploitation of industrialism more than political ideology – People today are still generally too comfortable.

Again, I am at a loss to understand this comment. What is the point he is attempting to make?  He quotes phrases such as: ‘economic distress’, social exploitation of industrialism’ and ‘political ideology’ without providing any link twixt the three. Is he implying (a)  they are content with all three; or (b) is he implying they are content with their life within the political system in which we find ourselves?

3. Five of their six demands took between 20 and 73 years to enact – The political reforms contained in our six demands are far more complex than the Chartists demands and will take a generation to enact if of course the ‘People’ wake up and demand them.

It is acknowledged that the demands for the introduction of direct democracy will take time, but to equate the ‘progress’ that the Chartists achieved is total rubbish. The Chartists did not have the ability to disseminate knowledge that now exists, courtesy of the internet. So how about said knowledge is used to further the aims he wishes? It is that information that might just make ‘the people’ wake up and demand same – something which will not happen whilst he, as Director, makes no apparent effort to achieve this.

4. The Chartist’s demand that was never enacted was for annual General Elections – Had a system of annual elections been permitted our political system would have become more one of direct rather than parliamentary democracy which is no doubt why politicians didn’t enact it!

There the author may have a point, but annual elections are not direct democracy when the people cannot control the actions of their government between elections; and are unnecessary when, under true direct democracy, whatever the term of office politicians may be granted, if the people have the right to dictate the actions they want from their politicians. As an aside, the ability of the people to instruct their politicians rather negates the need of an ‘advisory’ referendum, but perhaps I digress?

But then the author of The Harrogate Agenda is on record of stating that he quite likes the idea of representative democracy; which begs the question why he – and the Director of THA – has ‘taken hold’ of the idea of direct democracy (see paragraph 10:  “But my thinking is that this happens alongside our current system of representative democracy, which I rather like, even if it has currently lost its way”.

5. Parliament is sovereign, both in the legal sense that it can pass any law about anything, and in the political sense that nothing the electorate can do can ensure the dismissal of a government or dissolution of a Parliament before the end of its legitimate five-year period in power – Be in no doubt Parliament holds ALL the power and this point alone is why we need our Agenda.

Whilst the author is correct that Parliament holds all the power, it is obvious THA requires redrafting as it is impossible to run representative democracy alongside direct democracy where the power remains in the former. As an aside this is why the Democrats & Veterans Party (DVP) will never suceed (their manifesto can be found here).  They say they are ‘for’ direct democracy but look at where the power ultimately lies.

7. After ten years Chartism lost its prominence to the Anti-Corn-Law League – We are currently struggling to compete with Brexit.

We should not be ‘competing with Brexit’ but working to achieve Brexit. Seven years have been wasted which could have been spent educating the people about their sovereignty thus showing them they have power.  Again I defy anyone to deny that by now the  people would have been ‘climbing all over their politicians demanding change – which would have given the media something worthwhile to get excited about.

8. The periods of greatest activity occurred during periods of depression and distress – We still have this to come from a botched Brexit and the likely downturn in the world’s economy.

Correction: we are already in a period of depression and distress; the people are depressed and distressed at the calibre of our current crop of politicians. Imagine the state they might now be in had seven years not been wasted.

9. Chartism routed in 1848 did three things – It was the first widespread and sustained effort of working-class self-help, second, it was directed to the cause of parliamentary democracy and constitutional reform and third and lastly the impetus it gave to eventual political reform on the one hand and trade union organisation on the other was never wasted. All these three facts about it gave it lasting importance – let’s hope the same will be said of THA in the future!

Yes, the Chartists were important, but suffered from the period in which they were active. While THA remains stagnant – and likely, on current form, to be permanent – the only epitaph for it may well read: what a wasted opportunity.

The author pens a footnote that it is always useful and relevant to consider the lessons from history. This is very true only if you learn from history; and learning is something which appears beyond the ability of the author.

I would have posted this critique on his blog but having seen what happened when I posted on this video (my comment was deleted and comments disabled) it appeared I would be wasting my time as no doubt the same action would have taken place.

If direct democracy is to succeed then perhaps the principles of that need to be adopted where THA is concerned. Perhaps those in control of the progression should be elected, rather than being ‘self-appointed’? But then, what is the point of shutting the stable door when the horse has bolted?


3 thoughts on “Alien

  1. Item 1 is perfectly understandable! if the people are unhappy with the political system AND are hungry then they might get of their arrses and so something, which brings us to point 2 it is very clear at least to me that yes people are dissatisfied with the current political system BUT they are not for the most part hungry or greatly inconvenienced because of it yet so they just get on with their lives as they are for now.

    It is not really worth worrying or arguing about the exact form of direct democracy be it the Harrogate Agenda or the DVP path, the important thing now is that people are encouraged to think and demand some form of government which offers more direct democracy and accountability. Once people do get energised to do something events are likely to drive a solution which is neither one or the other, however that is unlikely to be the HA on current performance.
    The DVP does have a message it does have a strong web presence tailored to it’s own aims and by comparison with those that claim to drive THA is positively dynamic and very much to the point it understands that to win power you have to compete and win on the current rule set before you can change the rules.

  2. I suppose we should be pleased a debate, of sorts, about THA is here, however, it is so late. The ideal nature of government is complicated and perhaps goes well beyond the binary choice of direct or representative democracy. There is more, much more involved than just that. There is the amount of government. Let us suppose we had a directly elected government but it was forever fiddling, obsessing and virtue signalling, as governments do. That would be of little advantage and just as bothersome if it was any other form of government. So we have to consider the quality and reach of government too. In Texas there are limitations on the way the Legislature can act. Texas law states –

    ‘The legislature convenes its regular sessions at noon on the second Tuesday in January of odd-numbered years. The maximum duration of a regular session is 140 days.’

  3. All governments do try to ‘fiddle’, even those in Switzerland, but at the end of the day when they try to ‘fiddle’ too much the people ‘step in’. When I initially wrote There is a better way in response to Richard North’s initial critique I responded that it was not my intention to replicate the Swiss system.

    Having seen what is apparently the ‘final version’ of The Harrogate Agenda I have changed my mind and now maintain that what we need in this country is a replication of the Swiss system.

    Remember Swiss politicians are but ‘part time’, they also have ‘proper jobs’………..

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