Friday, 16 June 2017

where does the buck stop for Grenfell Tower?

I’m not a fan of London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan because I’m not a fan of the contemporary Labour party, but I think I have something to add to the debate about who is to blame for the flammable cladding on Grenfell Tower. I was a chair of a housing association management committee in Scotland and have been involved in tendering processes for similar amounts as have been said to change hands for the Grenfell cladding.

Glasgow is a far smaller city than London, but even so the Lord Provost – our equivalent of a mayor – was not involved in the tendering process. No politicians from any party or at any level were involved. And they knew better than to ask to be involved, as even the request would have exposed us, the management committee members, to accusations of being vulnerable to political influence.

According to the Evening Standard, a former chair of the firm acting as landlord for Grenfell Tower, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), stepped down because of “concerns” about how the firm was being run, as did residents who were part of the management committee. It is with the commercial arm of this firm that the investigation into the fire must begin, and also the investigation into the tendering process, which must also have the remit to inquire as to whether management committee members had the latitude not to accept the lowest amount tendered.

Then the investigation must go to the firm which supplied the cladding, Harley Facades. Did this firm use “green” legislation to bypass safety concerns, or did it flog KCTMO the cheapest stuff it had lying around claiming it would win green brownie points with the council? How many more lives are presently endangered by such green issues?

And finally there is the number of dead. Do either Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council or KCTMO know or care how many people were actually living in its property? I ask because the whole nightmare could be a parable of the fate of working-class people in the face of the Establishment, crammed into a concrete box and forgotten. And at the end, the dead have only one right: to be remembered.

Gerry Dorrian

Thursday, 15 June 2017

"Brexit and Democracy": table of contents

Table of contents for Brexit and Democracy: Reclaiming full and equal suffrage from the political cartel:

Part 1: Antecedents of the European integration process

Chapter 1: Unity as foundational myth

Chapter 2: The Franco-Prussian War

Chapter 3: War and fascism

Chapter 4: Supranational pan-Germanism

Chapter 5: Totalitarian convergence

Chapter 6: Heidegger’s diaspora

Part 2: European integration in re-action: the closed society and its beneficiaries

Chapter 7: The return of convergence

Chapter 8: British entry to the Common Market

Chapter 9: Currency and convergence

Chapter 10: Towards catastrophe via crisis

Chapter 11: The UK political cartel tightens

Chapter 12: Was the 2005 general election rigged?

Chapter 13: The road to referendum

Chapter 14: The EU referendum: tragedy and backlash

Chapter 15: The relationship between democracy and fascism

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Heidegger's arithmetic

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, has been feted as winning a great victory – with The New Statesman, for example, publishing a piece called Jeremy Corbyn won a great victory. His party won 262 seats and Theresa May’s Conservatives won 318.

Has the Left lost all grasp of arithmetic? Unfortunately not. What we are seeing is a political arithmetic from a very sinister time in the first half of the twentieth century in Germany: Heidegger’s arithmetic, from his 1927 work Being and Time.

Martin Heidegger was, famously, “Hitler’s philosopher”. He rebelled against the phenomenology of his mentor, Edmund Husserl, which allowed each person an equal right in collectively constructing the world; instead Heidegger divided humanity into two: the “authentic” and the “inauthentic”.

The authentic are the people who, in Heidegger’s view, matter: the elite, even the Master Race. Their thoughts count for much more than the inauthentic, the rest of humanity in an amorphous herd whom Heidegger calls “the they”, whom Heidegger accuses of the tendency to establish a dictatorship of “inconspicuousness and unascertainability”. It’s not difficult to see how those eager to apply a veneer of intellectual respectability to that franchise of street-fighting gangs called the Nazis saw something they could use in Heidegger’s philosophy and adopted it as their ideology. The classification of the inauthentic as the Other, the they, powered the Holocaust.

In 1940-41 Jean-Paul Sartre read Being and Time while a prisoner of war, and would use it as an inspiration for his existential work Being and Nothingness, in which he retains Heidegger’s classification of “the they”, defining it again as the Other, an amorphous mass that “disintegrates” when one tries to understand it.

Sartre’s importance is not so much in what he wrote, but in that his work provided a bridge for Heidegger’s influence to travel from the Right to the Left – Jacques Derrida, for example, was dismissive of Sartre as “merely another metaphysician”, but his breakthrough and most influential work, On Grammatology, is full of references to Heidegger.

There was a golden age of socialism in Britain. It started in 1948 when Clement Attlee’s government instituted full and equal suffrage with the Representation of the People Act 1948 and founded its corollary, the NHS. And it was ended when the OPEC oil crisis of the mid-1970s swallowed up the money that makes any golden age possible. In the wake of this, the socialists who followed used Heidegger-ridden logic to justify their rejection of democracy as a means to pursue the socialist agenda, a justification that was, in their eyes, intensified when the OPEC-fuelled crisis reached full penetration and swept Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979 after the “winter of discontent”.

That’s when Heidegger’s arithmetic became as fully accepted by the hard Left as it had been by the Nazis – not that surprising when you consider politics is a circle, so that as left and right descend below the horizon of democracy they continue to become more distant from the open society, but get closer to each other: see the diagram on the book cover below. So we had Militant running Liverpool City Council in the 1980s, justifying the misery it caused to its own working-class employees by the glories of the Revolution to come: Heidegger’s arithmetic in action.

Heidegger’s arithmetic is also apparent in the attitude of former Home Secretary Diane Abbott sending her son to private school while opposing increasing grammar-school places for working-class children: the offspring of “the they”, the inauthentic, must be denied any opportunity to be able to compete with the children of the elite, the authentic, so as to deny them an intellectual foundation from which they might set out to frustrate the goals of the elite. These goals have never, at any time, had anything to do with enabling the many - the working-class, "the they", to better their lot.

And Heidegger’s arithmetic shines through in Jeremy Corbyn’s composure as a general who has won a great victory: his hard-Left MPs are the elite, and any MPs opposing them, even if they are numerically superior, are inauthentic and therefore their numbers count as nothing.

Nothing is so toxic to Heidegger’s arithmetic as full and equal suffrage democracy, which is why Corbyn has radicalised a horde of young idealists to oppose democracy by calling for restricting the franchise to those under 60. If they succeed in this it is the beginning of the end for democracy: the next step will be epistocracy, where people have to pass exams before they are deemed able to vote by a state who would only pass those who would vote according to its wishes. At present, the only qualification you need to vote is the capacity to suffer because of the deeds or misdeeds of your government, and this must remain so if you wish to be safe from your government.

If this radicalised cadre manages to decentre full and equal suffrage as a means of deciding who rules, we can only make our opposition to our rulers known by unrest, which runs the risk of sliding into civil war. And that’s why Heidegger’s arithmetic needs to be put into history’s waste disposal unit.

Read more about Heidegger, the risks to democracy, and Brexit:

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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Brexit and Democracy is now on Smashwords

Brexit and Democracy: Reclaiming full and equal suffrage from the political cartel is now on Smashwords. A detailed survey of Brexit and the historical, philosophical and political issues surrounding it, this is your unmissable Brexit companion!

  • Why did it take the Scottish National Party to start an "avalanche of philosophy" in Britain that finally saw the long-promised EU membership referendum materialise?
  • What was the 2012 incident that enabled UKIP to put a crack in the political cartel?
  • Why was nothing done when Otto Kirchheimer started noticing cartelisation in European political parties in the mid-1950s?
  • Did the Marshall Plan unwittingly lay the groundwork for the eventual formation of the European Union?
  • What is the relationship between the German and Italian unification processes and the EU?
  • Did nation states start to evolve from the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, or from the 1555 Peace of Augsberg?

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

"The European Union"

The European Union may have been officially founded by the Maastricht Treaty in 1991, but the idea has been around for a very long time. In fact, the phrase "The European Union" was first used by Charles Irenée Castel, a former soldier who became a priest and was known as l'Abbé de Saint-Pierre (and gets a mention in Tolstoy's War and Peace).

The European Union, according to Saint-Pierre, would be modelled on the cooperation between the German principalities, which were then effectively, if not formally, as related as England, Wales and Scotland are now. That is to say, in our idiom, it would be a supranational superstate. Saint-Pierre said heads of state would have their authority over their citizens guaranteed, but, right afterwards and in contradiction, he proposed that the Diet (a proto-Brussels) would be the "supreme judge" of its members' rights and that any member breaking a treaty would be treated as a "public enemy".

So there you have it: the European Union in ovo, including the name. The section of the Abbé de Saint-Pierre's book Project pour rendre la paix perpétuelle en Europe first mentioning The European Union is in the photo below, courtesy of the French National Library:

Read more in Brexit and Democracy: Reclaiming full and equal suffrage from the political cartel - out now for Kindle!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bibliography from "Brexit and Democracy"

Here is the bibliography from Brexit and Democracy: Reclaiming full and equal suffrage from the political cartel

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UK statutory material

Representation of the People Act 1918

Representation of the People Act 1948

Representation of the people Act 2000

Electoral Administration Act 2006

European Union Referendum Act 2015

Hansard, Schuman Plan, house of Commons Debate 13 June 1950, vol 476 columns 35-47

Hansard, Council of Europe, House of Commons debate, 13 November 1950, vol 480, columns 1392-1504

Hansard, EEC Membership (Referendum) Debate, 11 March 1975, column 305

Hansard, European Treaty Referendum, 21 January 2008, columns 1324-1325

Hansard, European Union Referendum Act 2015, First Reading, House of Commons, 28 May 2015, column 246

Hansard, EU Referendum Rules debate, 5 September 2016 column 2WH

House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, Child sexual exploitation and the response to localised grooming: Second Report of Session 2013-2014, Volume II – Oral and Written Evidence, The Stationery Office 2013

House of Commons Defence Committee, Iraq: An Initial Assessment of Post-Conflict Operations, Sixth Report of Session 2004-05, The Stationery Office 2005

House of Lords European Union Committee, European Defence Agency: Report with Evidence, The Stationery Office 2005

House of Lords European Union Committee, Report on 2014-2015, The Stationery Office 2015

House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, Waging War: Parliament’s role and responsibility, Volume I, The Stationery Office 2006

Chilcott, Sir John, The Iraq Enquiry (The Chilcott Report), Vol 1, National Archives 2016

Chilcott, Sir John, The Iraq Enquiry (The Chilcott Report), Vol 2, National Archives 2016

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Tetteh, Edmund, Election Statistics: UK 1918-2007, House of Commons Library 2008

Uberoi, Elise, European Union Referendum 2016, House of Commons Library 2016

White, Isobel, Postal Voting and Electoral Fraud 2001-2009, House of Commons Library 2012

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A Future Fair for All: The Labour Party Manifesto 2010

Invitation to join the Government of Britain: The Conservative Manifesto 2010

Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010

The Labour Party Manifesto 2015

Liberal Democrats Manifesto 2015

The Conservative Party Manifesto 2015

European and other statutory material

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Single European Act 1985

Treaty on European Union [The Maastricht Treaty], Council of the European Communities/Commission of the European Communities 1991

Treaty of Amsterdam, European Communities 1997

The Future of the European Union (Laeken Declaration, 2001)

Treaty of Nice, European Communities 2001

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Books: Secondary sources

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Zeitung für den Deutschen Adel vol 5, 1844

Go to Amazon to buy your copy now!

"Brexit and Democracy" is now on Kindle

Brexit and Democracy: Reclaiming full and equal suffrage is out on Amazon for Kindle. It deals with the following questions:

  • Was the 2005 general election rigged - and if so, why?
  • Was Britain's entry to the Iraq war linked to the above?
  • How did 56 Scottish National Party MPs arriving in Westminster in 2015 make the EU referendum possible?
  • Why did the Liberal Democrats switch from opposing a referendum to demanding one?
  • Why was a plan for European monetary union abandoned in the early 1970s?
  • And what on earth does the cover illustration signify?

Go to Amazon to buy your copy now!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Quotes opening "Brexit and Democracy"

These are 6 quotes on democracy and the European integration process with which I open my new book. Brexit and Democracy is due out on Monday 5 June!
It is in general a necessary condition of free institutions that the boundaries of governments should coincide in the main with those of nationalities.

John Stuart Mill, 1861 [1]

I know that you [English] have the art of sticking to the form, and more than the form, of the old traditions while starting them in new directions. While becoming an extremely democratic country, you have kept the form, and more than the form, of an hereditary aristocracy and an hereditary monarchy. It may be that even if your constitution becomes more dictatorial you will preserve the form, and something more than the form, of the parliamentary system.

Élie Halévy, 1934 [2]

Europe finds itself still divided and indeed has never advanced beyond the unity achieved by the legions of the Roman Empire. It has vigorously resisted the attempts made successively by Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Hitler to achieve unity by force…Certainly Europe was never, since ancient Greek thinkers first conceived it as a continent and tried to map it, either culturally homogenous or politically one.

W Gordon East, 1962 [3]

There is no chance of a possible EU democracy because there is no European people, no demos. No demos, no democracy – quite simple.

Karlheinz Nunreither, 2000 [4]

The whole European integration experiment, from the Coal and Steel Community on, has been a political wolf dressed in economic sheep’s clothing.

Willem H Buiter, 2010 [5]

Membership of the EU makes Britain literally un-governable, in the sense that no administration elected by the people can govern the country.

Steve Hilton, 2015 [6]

1. Mill, John Stuart, Considerations on Representative Government (1861), Batoche Books 2001, p184

2. Halévy, Élie, Socialism and the Problem of Democratic Parliamentarianism (1934), in The Era of Tyrannies, Anchor Books 1965, p263

3. East, W Gordon, An Historical Geography of Europe (1935), Methuen 1962 (new epilogue), p437

4. Neunreither, Karlheinz, Political Representation in the European Union: A Common Whole, Various Holes, or Just a Hole? in Neunreither, Karlheinz and Wiener, Antje, European Integration after Amsterdam: Institutional Dynamics and Prospects for Democracy (2000), Oxford University Press 2004, p148

5. Buiter, Willem H, Economic, political and institutional prerequisites for monetary union among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in MacDonald, Ronald and Al Faris, Abdulrazak (eds.), Currency Union and Exchange Rate Issues: Lessons for the Gulf States, Dubai Economic Council 2010, p65

6. Hilton, Steve, How the EU makes Britain impossible to govern, Daily Mail 23 May 2016. Available at, accessed 28/5/2017

Brexit and Democracy: Reclaiming full and equal suffrage from the political cartel is due out on Monday 6 June.

"Brexit and Democracy" is coming!

This is the preface to Brexit and Democracy: Reclaiming full and equal suffrage from the political cartel, which I hope to release as an ebook on Monday 5 June 2017.

This tract has come out of some five years of investigating the state of democracy in Britain in particular and Europe in general, after I started analysing general election figures and found an anomaly for 2005. I have written on this before and, if anybody has bought Brexit and Democracy specifically to find out more about this issue, you could go straight to Chapter 12, Was the 2005 general election rigged? Or if you would like more contextual information, you could start at Chapter 11, The UK political cartel tightens or even Chapter 10, Towards catastrophe via crisis.

I have written Brexit and Democracy to be either read through or dipped into. There’s a lot of philosophy in Chapter 6, Heidegger’s diaspora, so you might decide to skip it, but you might find trying to tackle it helps you understand the European integration process and related British politics, especially as far as “authenticity” and “inauthenticity” is concerned.

Whatever your views on European integration, I hope you find Brexit and Democracy a useful resource. But, more than that, I hope you enjoy it.

Gerry Dorrian
Cambridge, June 2017