Britain is no different with regard to its power structure than any other bureaucratic state. Power is not truly in the hands of the people – the demos or the representatives it elects. In the bureaucratic state, which all democracies are, the locus of power is the upper reaches of the state bureaucracy. What makes the United Kingdom different – even from many other constitutional monarchies – is that this bureaucracy of state is thoroughly dominated by the hegemony of a medieval royal estate.
In Ireland we know these rustic power-brokering as “Gombeenary” – the shady wheeler-dealing of parish pump big shots, concerned almost entirely with the task of lining their own pockets and keeping their friends and neighbours at least one peg below them.
We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. Given that neoliberalism – the global plutocracy – is the order of the day, the day-to-day business of governance and policy won’t change much no matter which way we vote (frustrating but true nonetheless).
For the most part the real power-brokers of today remain behind the scenes, or in the White House hidden in plain sight. Such people are the custodians of real power, and are the people responsible for the longer term strategic ambitions of the state.