Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Is Direct Democracy catching on?

Direct Democracy gets a mention at the end of this eight minute clip on Alice Weidel who is the leader of the Alternatives for Germany (AfD) speaking to Merkel in the Bundestag.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ66coDh14s

I apologize that you have to type in the link or copy and paste it into Google but I haven't yet sorted out the problem.



Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Parish council referendums

Two of our six demands involve the use of referenda and over the years the government has used them over devolution, an alternative voting system and of course, most recently, leaving the EU.

Critics often say that holding frequent referenda is unworkable, and so it would be without checks and balances and bench marks that have to be met before they take place.

As this link explains Parish referendums are alive and well in Hadleigh.

http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2018/06/26/a-little-local-difficulty-a-forgotten-part-of-english-democracy/

For some reason, I must get fixed, links don't seem to work on this blog so here is the essence:-


It turns out that all is not well in Hadleigh. The town council has been riven with factional in-fighting. This has percolated into the pages of the Suffolk Free Press and the East Anglian Daily Times. Now a group of well-organised dissidents, under the banner “Hadleigh Together”, have forced a referendum of confidence in the town council, alleging mismanagement and that it is dysfunctional. The town goes to the polls on Thursday. Both sides had issued leaflets putting their case. The dissidents’ case can be found here and here.

I can honestly say that I had never heard of such a thing. So I did some digging. And I found out that I know rather less about the English political system than I thought. For parish residents have long had the right to call for parish polls on whatever topic they choose, provided that a third of electors present at a parish meeting are in favour (and not fewer than 10). At this point the local district council must hold a poll. The result is advisory only.  The Hadleigh Together group have called for just such a parish poll.

This mechanism has been used hundreds of times over the years (no one seems to know how often, no one seems to have been interested enough to keep track). The subject matter has been many and varied: at least one parish conducted a parish poll on whether to hold a referendum on EU membership – it passed convincingly, as it happens.

All this time commentators have been telling us that referendums weren’t a longstanding part of British politics and it turns out they were wrong. Voters up and down the country have been passing judgements on car parking arrangements, low level radioactive waste and whether to allow a Tesco’s for many years. No doubt you all knew this. I didn’t.

The people's increased participation in our democracy can best be achieved through referenda as the people of Hadleigh are showing.






Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Petitions to the UK government and parliament.

I recently, for the hell of it, signed one of those petitions, this one on the abolition of the House of Lords, which guarantees a debate in parliament given a certain threshold of signatures are collected.

I received this e-mail after the debate in the House of Commons which deserves a First Class degree for bascially saying 'WE WILL BE TOTALLY IGNORING YOU' and this is their second attempt to give a 'better' answer!


The Government’s response to this petition has changed. This change took place on 19 June 2018.
This is because the Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) did not think that the Government’s first response was satisfactory, because it did not address directly the petition’s specific request for a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords.
The Committee wrote to the Government to ask for a new response which answered the petition more directly.
The Government has produced a new response:
As stated in our manifesto, comprehensive reform of the House of Lords is not a priority for this parliament.
Therefore, the Government does not intend to hold a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords.
As set out in the manifesto, comprehensive reform of the House of Lords is not a priority. Therefore, the Government does not intend to hold a referendum on the abolition of the House.
The Government is committed to ensuring that the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons. We will also continue to work to ensure that the House of Lords remains relevant and effective by addressing issues such as its size.
The Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Burns, made recommendations in October 2017 on ways of reducing the size of the House without requiring legislation. In response, The Prime Minister has written to the Lord Speaker and agreed to continue with the restraint she has shown so far when making appointments to the House. It is incumbent on all sides of the House to consider what they can do to further promote the culture of retirement. In light of the Prime Minister's letter, the Lord Speaker has reconvened the Committee to consider next steps.
This has replaced the previous response which said:
The Government is committed to ensuring that the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons.
As set out in the manifesto, the Government is committed to ensuring that the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons.
Whilst comprehensive reform is not a priority, the Government will also continue to work to ensure that the House of Lords remains relevant and effective by addressing issues such as its size.
The Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Burns, made recommendations in October 2017 on ways of reducing the size of the House without requiring legislation. In response, The Prime Minister has written to the Lord Speaker and agreed to continue with the restraint she has shown so far when making appointments to the House. It is incumbent on all sides of the House to consider what they can do to further promote the culture of retirement. In light of the Prime Minister's letter, the Lord Speaker has asked the Committee to reconvene to consider next steps.
Thanks,
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament.


This is why nothing will change until we get the THA's six demands enacted.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Campaign to restore British counties

I had a conference call on Sunday  with the Founder, Pam Moorhouse and Manager, Gerard Dugdill, of the British Counties Campaign.

https://britishcounties.org

 I have empathy with their campaign and as a part of our second demand ' Real Local Democracy' we believe local authorities could be based on counties,cities or the former county boroughs.

The trouble with this or any other campaign is that the only way it will see the light of day is to convince a governing party to adopt the policy, pass it into law and pay for it.

There are two key points to make here. First, It is my considered opinion that, with our existing system of governance in place, this is extremely unlikely. Second, even if it did come to pass then with our sovereign parliament, unable to bind successive governments, there is nothing to stop another parliament doing a 'Ted Heath' on us.

The issue highlighted above also applies to Brexit which is why our six demands are part of Flexcit for until the people are recognised as sovereign, instead of parliament, then the last word resides with Parliament and not us. So it is for this reason every campaign should support THA and our six demands.

One important consideration for all campaign groups is that once the views of the majority count then everyone has to accept their will, as and when exercised, and if your particular 'hobby horse' is not supported by the majority then you have a lot more convincing to do. 

Finally a real bonus for democracy is that with a sovereign people many existing 'minority' pressure groups would lose their influence over governments and so the whole 'Green'  business and bandwagon would have to face the cold reality that most sensible people are not duped by their propaganda.



    

 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

How will we ever beat the Establishment?

I believe that protest movements will seldom if ever beat the existing 'Establishment' and resorting to any form of physical confrontation will absolutely be guaranteed to fail as the authorities hold all the law & order cards.

These are the problems faced by The Iraq War Campaign Group, led by Reg Keys who lost his son in Iraq. Having failed to hold Blair personally to account they have recently made a submission to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee's enquiry looking into 'Safeguards for proper Government decision making.'

While the Group were pleased that the Committee recognised the need for 'New safeguards for proper process on decision-making' they were disappointed that 'There is no case for rules on collective decision making in the Cabinet Manual being placed on a statutory footing.'

In other words, in very simple terms, nothing much is likely to change as the 'Establishment' looks after its own.

What Reg Keys and his campaign need is to see the introduction of our six demands which specifically under demand four, The people's consent, would allow the voice of the people to be heard and in all likelihood, had it been in place before the war in Iraq, could well have stopped the government from embarking on that disastrous war in the first place.

The question then arises as to how we get our six demands enacted and the only answer to that is that enough people have got to be bothered to demand them and pressurise their MPs for our reforms  to improve the way we are governed.

As I mention above any protests that turn violent will be crushed by the authorities but as Gene Sharp outlines in his 123 page little book, From Dictatorship to Democracy, there are plenty of ideas and scope for successful peaceful protests, importantly within the law, which have been used in the past successfully. All that is needed is for sufficient people to wake up to the need for our agenda and then of course be prepared to do something about it.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The sovereignty of our parliament.


Our first demand is that the people must be recognized as sovereign, so what does this actually mean?

The Royal powers of our sovereign monarch, were finally removed by the Bill of Rights 1689. The Bill of Rights also removed the ability of the Crown to dispense with or ignore legislation and statutes. Such a right had culminated in the Declaration of Indulgence of 1687, which had ushered in the Glorious Revolution. That led the Earl of Shaftesbury to declare in 1689, "The Parliament of England is that supreme and absolute power, which gives life and motion to the English government" Finally The Act of Settlement of 1700 removed royal power over the judiciary and defined a vote of both houses as the sole method of removing a judge.

Therefore our Parliament is the supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law. Generally, the courts cannot overrule its legislation and no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution. As a result what one government passes can be changed by another and so, as a purely hypothetical example,  there would be nothing stopping any future government applying to re-join the EU.

This why our first demand, on which the other five depend, is so important and demands that we ‘the people’ must be recognised as sovereign so that it is only through our consent that constitutional changes can be made and this would all be set out within a new written constitution which is of course our sixth and final demand.

Sovereignty or power once rested with the monarch and now resides with our parliament and there is no good reason why it should not be moved again so as to recognise the people as sovereign. All we have to do is get enough of us to demand this to happen.