LETTER: Still wrestling with Jefferson’s dilemma

Daniel Hannan, Euro MP, while promoting his book The New Road to Serfdom surely made a blunder of identity in claiming John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon as the two Englishmen whose contributions shaping the US Constitution pre-dated the Declaration of Independence?

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDKJBaCZOqQ

Trenchard was Irish. Gordon was born in Kirkcudbrightshire. Perhaps a local historian could confirm whether it was, in fact, Kells?

Mr Hannan warns against a particular Brussels problem: the centralisation of power with its public servants so distant from the people. He quotes a letter by Jefferson in 1812 as the apt comparison: “The same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder, and waste.”

Expressing suspicion of the remote and inaccessible, unaccountable and unelected, the “self-serving … elites”, he asks: “Is there a better description of what happens in Brussels?”

Closer to home, we may reflect on local election results at Dumfries, when those “habituated to being ignored” were granted the rare occasion to bring change. Our new councillors are surely obliged to challenge certain officials with binding delegated powers, simultaneously reduce our tax expenditure where appropriate, and locally at least, avert a course of disaster that preoccupied Jefferson.

District councils may not have been perfect, but living beside the consequences of their decisions offered closer scrutiny for feedback of root cause and corrective action. Until regional irregularities are eliminated, will a national independence referendum address our own concerns in a country lacking a written constitution?

Or, put another way, must not men’s hearts first change before kingdoms can?

Donald M Henry,

Tongland, Kirkcudbright.