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UK Govt. Democratic Legitimacy in Doubt

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TEHRAN, June 9 (ICANA) – The most senior Anglican Church priest has questioned the democratic legitimacy of the British government, condemning its terrifying policies “for which no one voted”.
Thursday, June 09, 2011 9:10:46 PM
UK Govt. Democratic Legitimacy in Doubt

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said the coalition's reforms to education, NHS and the benefits system have left the public in a state of “fear”.

He said the “Big Society” plans pursued by Prime Minister David Cameron are a “painfully stale” slogan slamming the government for blaming every difficulty the nation is facing on the deficit it inherited from Labour.

"It isn't enough to respond with what sounds like a mixture of 'This is the last government's legacy,' and 'We'd like to do more, but just wait until the economy recovers a bit'," he wrote in an article for the New Statesman magazine.

Williams said in the article that voters are feeling “anxiety and anger” because the coalition has not sought “proper public argument” on its policies.

"Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present," Williams said in the article.

He said part of the “widespread suspicion” is fueled by the Big Society plans that do not specify how voluntary organizations would “pick up the responsibilities shed by government”.

Williams added that the coalition policies on the NHS have resulted in “bafflement and indignation” among the public.

“With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” he said.

“At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context,” he added.

Williams also hit out at the “punitive responses to alleged abuses of the [welfare] system” saying such comments along with the cuts in the welfare system are a "quiet resurgence of the seductive language of 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor".

He then said an “open probing” is required in the education following the hasty approval of the government's free-school reforms through the parliament last summer and the tripling of university tuition fees.

He said Britain needs a long-term education policy "that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy".

As for the real intention behind the government's plans, Williams said Cameron's Big Society proposals are an “opportunistic” cover to enable the coalition to push ahead with its cutbacks.

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