Mind the gap! Democratic deficit in UK, US has never been bigger

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Mind the gap! Democratic deficit in UK, US has never been bigger
The issue of Syria has demonstrated the massive gap that has opened up between the elite and ordinary people in both the US and Britain.

Poll after poll after poll shows very large majorities against strikes on Syria. People are war-weary, and the last thing they want is for their countries to become embroiled in another Middle-East war.

One Congressman in the US tweeted earlier this week that he had asked 200 people if they supported strikes on Syria and only four said 'Yes'- that's just 2 percent. Another said that 99 percent of calls to his office were against military action.

Let's get one thing straight: the only people who are keen on war with Syria in the US and UK are the elites. Ordinary people on both sides of the Atlantic want absolutely nothing to do with it.

In Britain, the overwhelming majority of people were delighted that our parliament voted against war last week and that enough of our legislators finally listened to the people to defeat the serial warmongers.

A BBC poll showed that 71 percent of people thought parliament had made the right decision. Yet our neocon/'liberal interventionist' elite is furious that legislators listened to the views of ordinary members of the public and not them. “You're a disgrace,” screeched neocon Minister Michael Gove at MPs who voted against the government. Behaving like spoilt brats having a temper tantrum because they were not allowed to get their own way, the Permanent War brigade have been calling for a "second vote'' in parliament, showing arrogant contempt for the views of the majority of ordinary people who don't want war with Syria.

Protesters demonstrate against potential strikes on the Syrian government at Parliament Square in central London August 31, 2013 (Reuters / Olivia Harris)

Neocon historian Andrew Roberts threw a hissy fit in a newspaper column last Sunday, attacking the “hideously amoral selfishness” of “new Britain” for not supporting war with Syria. Serial warmonger and drama queen Lord Paddy Ashdown declared"In 50 years trying to serve my country I have never felt so depressed/ashamed" - after parliament finally listened to public opinion and not to warmongers like Ashdown.

Nick Cohen, poster boy for Britain's pro-war faux-left tweeted “Can't help thinking that the British parliament's vote will be remembered as a low and mean point in our history.” Have you got that? Parliament listening to ordinary members of the public is a “low and mean point.” Such is the fundamentally undemocratic neocon/liberal interventionist mindset, which says that no point of view on foreign policy counts except their own and that of their neocon pals.

Since last week's parliamentary vote, UK establishment figures have been lining up to give Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, a jolly good thrashing for daring to defy the War Party's line on Syria. Writing in The Times, aptly described as 'The Warmongers Gazette' by anti-war conservative writer Peter Hitchens, David Aaronovitch called Miliband a 'political vulture'. Aaronovitch's attack on Miliband was hailed as 'devastating' by Ian Katz, the editor of Newsnight, the BBC's flagship Current Affairs program, which wheeled out a 'Dr. Rola' from 'Hand in Hand For Syria' to criticize Miliband's failure to back the government.

Since the vote Newsnight has promoted a series of pro-intervention figures, seemingly desperate to try and get us plebs to change our minds. What part of 'WE DON'T WANT WAR WITH SYRIA' do our elite not understand? Now the high priest of 'Liberal Interventionism', the multi-millionaire war criminal Tony Blair, has joined the 'Get Miliband' lynch mob, saying that he was “disappointed” that parliament hadn't supported the government, adding, “This is something where I just have to disagree with the leadership of the [Labour] party."

For our neocon/liberal interventionist elite, Miliband is a shocker, a bounder, a rotter, and a 'political vulture'. But most ordinary people in Britain are very pleased that he and his party listened to the public and opposed the government on Syria. You'd never have known it from reading neocon newspaper columns, but after last week's vote, bookmakers shortened the odds of Labour winning the next election to 8-13.

People demonstrate against US intervention in Syria in front of the White House in Washington (AFP Photo)

If Miliband and his party had voted the way the neocons wanted, then it’s highly likely that earlier this week US and British forces would have launched their attack on Syria. Which is why of course the Permanent War gang are so angry with him.

The pro-war lobby may be numerically tiny, but in both the US and UK it is massively overrepresented in the mainstream media. Despite the Iraq debacle, the same columnists who urged on that particular catastrophe, are still in front of their keyboards, propagandizing for yet another Middle East 'intervention', and are still treated with enormous deference whenever they appear on the likes of CNN or the BBC. Which is very, very often.

“Did you know there are people who supported the Iraq War getting invited on news programs to talk about Syria?” tweets comedy writer Graham Linehan. S'TRUE!!!

The disproportionate voice that necons and 'liberal interventionists' have in the UK and US media makes it appear that their views are more widely held in the public at large than they are. But in fact their extremist pro-war views are very rarely found outside elite, Establishment circles.

The gap between the elites in the US and the UK is now larger than at any time in the last 100 years. If we do go to war with Syria, despite the overwhelming public opposition, then it will show that democracy is well and truly dead in both our countries. 

Are we countries where the views of the majority are listened to, or are we countries where a tiny, unrepresentative, pro-war clique always gets their way? We're about to find out.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.