This week's edition to our Olympia Extracts is the fantastic political book, Illusion Of Good Government by Roy Finchett.
There are many definitions of what a Government is – here’s one.
‘The political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc. political administration.’
Every country in the world is subject to one type of governmental structure or another. In democracies, Governments gain power, as a result of winning nation-wide elections, using whatever voting system prevails. Elections (if held) in non-democratic countries are conducted with the sole purpose of ensuring the incumbent civilian dictator or military ruler(s) remain in power. In certain communist countries, the right to vote is claimed, but it’s for and by the favoured party apparatchiks at national level who control the levers of power. Consequently, the opportunity to influence political events remains the preserve of the party elites. There is no single template for government. Democracies form their governments as a result of the will of the people. Prime Ministers and Presidents come and go. Dictatorships sometimes end in social upheaval and bloodshed. History is littered with failed governments; they are not the exception. Historical events will have determined the foundation and political direction of a modern day state. Government policies and actions serve to strengthen or weaken how a nation state develops. A nation’s identity and role continually evolve. There are many influences; size, geographic location, climate, history, wars, traditions, customs, natural resources, political system, types of government, single ethnicity or multi-ethnicities, language (s) spoken, rule of law, freedom of speech, literature, the arts etc.
Countries such as the United States, Germany, France, and India, among many, chose to become Republics, whilst the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, among others, have evolved as Constitutional Monarchies.
Both constitutional models have structural similarities, elected parliaments, volunteer armed forces (mostly), civil services, independent judiciaries, rule of law, market economies etc. Constitutionally, a Republic’s elected head of state is the president, whereas the head of state of a Constitutional Monarchy is an unelected monarch, who will have “acceded” to his or her throne, by a process known as primogeniture. (UK law now permits both first born male and female royal heirs to accede to its throne.) Presidents of Republics, serve for a fixed term, the actual number of terms served, is governed by a Republic’s constitutional dictates. A second term is subject to re-election. In a Constitutional Monarchy, a reigning monarch will remain as head of state until death or in rare circumstances, abdication.
However, there’s a notable difference between their constitutions in terms of political leadership and power. In a Republic, the president is its all-powerful national leader, whilst in a Constitutional Monarchy a monarch’s role as head of state is largely ceremonial (The official opening of each new session of parliament, signing Acts of Parliament, dissolving parliament, appointing new Prime Ministers, hosting state visits etcetera.) The power rests with the elected Prime Minister. From day one a new government becomes subject to the scrutiny of its people. The perennial question being – how good or bad will it turn out to be? Will the trend of projecting bad government as good government continue through the use of misleading “spin”? Will it continue to cover up or treat with unwarranted secrecy information which the public has a right to know? What is the true state of the UK’s economy? Will political ideology continue to mask trumpery? Will compulsive shopping save the nation? And when will Government acknowledge more of the same will take us nowhere?
The main focus of this book is the Government of the United Kingdom, the author’s home country. It also includes references and illustrations of Governments in other countries, for comparisons, and to support factual comment.