Tuesday, 1 January 2008

The ghost of Nol Cromwell stalks Westminster

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!"

Cromwell kicking out the Rump of the Long Parliament, on 20th April 1653


aDM said...

Cool. I enjoyed that!

The only problem is that it doesn't matter who is in charge, from politicians to monarchy it all eventually keeps going along the age old saying "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts abolsutely..."

flashgordonnz said...

So the key is to kick them out at regular intervals. Somewhat less than every five years, though.

aDM said...

Yes, but THEN you don't get any consistency or long term stability and an excuse for each party to blame its predecessor.

Trooper Thompson said...

Consistency and stability should come from a settled system of law - NOT from politicians entrenching themselves in power, with freedom to continually legislate. This Government has passed something like 50 Criminal Justice Acts, which does not create stability, except for the politicians, who see their role as to remake society, rather than serve it.

Cromwell should have supported the Agreement of the People, the constitutional settlement put forward by Lilburne and the army radicals (and fought for by a certain William Thompson). This document set limits on parliamentarians, that they could not be elected to successive Parliaments, and Parliament only sat two years, I think.

aDM said...

But I don't trust the judiciary Trooper, they're bastards - so where does the settled system come from. (OK so i'm being despondent). I'm sick to death of the legislation passed by governments telling us how to live - that largely comes about to replace basic manners and respect which people seem to have forgotten all about. And i can't figure out why.

I'll hold my hand up and say i learned nothing about this at school and i really am quite ignorant about it all now - Cromwell i mean. So i shouldn't comment on it really.

Trooper Thompson said...

The rule of law shouldn't equate to the rule of judges. I understand and share your disdain for a lot of the judiciary, but they're really only following orders.

I'd like to settle the system by putting in power a written constitution and killing off the idea of an activist Government cranking out more and more legislation. I also want to see democracy realised, rather than quietly smothered and dumped into the river, and I think the way to do this is to massively shift power away from the centre and onto local government in all matters of social policy.

As for old Nol, I'm not surprised you learnt so little at school about Cromwell's times, thank God we're not limited to what they teach us there.

flashgordonnz said...

"away from the centre and onto local government in all matters of social policy."
Does local government have a good track record in this field? I don't really think so. Was it Hackney that closed all pre-schools centres 7 months into the preschool year (circa 2000) because the entire preschooling budget had been spent?

Trooper Thompson said...

I am advocating a massive contraction of the central state, in part this will be abolishing unnecessary organisations and in part this will be breaking up the central structures and apportioning these at the local level. I want real democracy, real accountability at the local level. Probably the closest example of what I'm aiming at is Switzerland.

Under these circumstances, local government will function very differently than it does now. What happens in Hackney will largely be the responsibility of the people of Hackney, or rather their elected representatives.

aDM said...

Wouldn't that work better if we were bigger? I mean like huge states. Where you have more choice in moving there because of job opps and regional traits. The problem is that too much of our economy is based in the south and London. So i can't move somewhere where, for example, choice in local government is an option. I have to work in London.

Trooper Thompson said...

I don't understand your point. Can you explain what you mean?

Trooper Thompson said...

"Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations."

Milton Friedman.

I would add, rather than just moving away, one could try to change the policies.

aDM said...

Maybe i didn't understand what you meant. Or it could just be a stupid observation of mine. (I'm probably a bit out of my depth tbh..).

Trooper Thompson said...


There's a group of Tory MPs who are very much in favour of 'localism', which is close to what I think.


Unfortunately, the policies the group is is putting forward won't get adopted.