Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Demand four 'The people's consent'.

The overall aim of THA, as contained in its six demands, is to give a far greater say to the people and thus place real power in our hands.

Demand four ‘The People’s Consent’ is perhaps the most complex but it sets out very clearly, in three parts, how we can influence, determine and ultimately reject the government’s legislation.

The first part sets out the procedure for the people to suggest areas of policy they would like addressed but, to avoid undue pressure and influence from well organised minority groups, any recommendations would not be binding on the government. The second part suggests a framework for the people to actually oppose or alter legislation before it becomes law with the third element covering ways in which the public’s voice can be heard with regards other official bodies covering such things as judicial and planning decisions.

With the above in mind it should not have escaped your notice that over the past nine months ‘Remainers’ have been pushing for parliament to have the ultimate say on the final Brexit deal achieved. The ‘ Leavers’ say this not necessary but there is of course no provision for the people to have their say that is apart from waiting to the next General Election or taking to the streets.

Whatever the final deal Mrs May and her government achieves the vitally important element of it, that is the Free Trade Agreement they achieve, will have to be passed by parliament. Now if THA was in force the second part of The People’s Consent would allow us to reject it, if for example we felt there were insufficient safeguard measures offered, giving us the power to reject the bill and thus demanding the government look again at the FTA they had achieved.

As I pointed out in the beginning of this post the essence of the THA is to provide the people with the mechanisms to have their voices heard and also to reject proposed legislation if they disapprove of it. If THA was in force politicians would never be able to make decisions on their own without considering that the people had the immediate right and the facility to have their say and if necessary reject a given piece of legislation.

This is the level of power we seek and nothing short of this will be acceptable to us because for far too long politicians have been legislating based on their blinkered perspective of life which pays lip service to our views. We demand that the opinions of the grass roots are always considered and taken account of and if they try to ignore us we would have the mechanisms to demand our say. 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Spreading the word.

Towards the end of last year I contacted six private and four state schools, in my area, about the possibilities of talking to their sixth forms on our Agenda. I based this request on my own time at school when the last period before lunch on a Friday was given over to a current affairs lecture from an outside speaker. I have received replies from five of the private schools with promises of possibly three talks in their future programmes and one reply from the state sector, from the Richard Huish sixth form college in Taunton, to whom I gave a talk to their political society last Friday during their lunch break.

This talk was fairly easy to organise as their political society is run by the students themselves who aren't as bothered as teachers appear to be with the possibility of an unknown outsider like me potentially corrupting their delicate minds! This society is entirely voluntary and the 25 students that attended had given up their lunch break to attend. Of the 25 I would estimate 20 were girls.

Due to the restrictions in time, as they left me straight to another class, I only talked for 20 minutes which left me 20 minutes to take questions. I divided the talk into three parts starting with an introduction into my political history of, The Referendum Party, UKIP and standing as an independent as it helps explain how difficult it is to break into the existing system which is why the system needs to be radically changed. Next I placed our demands in the historical context of the time it took, between 10 and 63 years, for five of the Chartists demands to be enacted. Lastly I briefly explained each of our six demands and the reasons for them.

There were no shortage of questions and two were of particular interest form which I learnt important lessons. The first asked, as I had briefly covered how our demands required us to have left the EU, which of the EU's laws we now followed did I disagree with and I made the mistake of giving, much of the Environmental legislation, as an example. The trouble is this is just my opinion and so by giving a specific answer I had deflected the topic away from our Agenda to my own personal views on policy which no doubt left some students thinking that I was a Climate Change sceptic. On reflection a better reply would have simply been to say that my own opinions on policy are not the point but what is relevant is that all policy decisions should be made as close to the people as possible and being in the EU would never allow this to happen.

The second question suggested that while our demands placed more power in the hands of the people this particular student didn't feel she had enough knowledge for an informed opinion on some matters which she was happy to delegate to our MPs. In my reply I suggested she had far more faith in our political class than I did and that on a matter like capital punishment our politicians were out of touch with the beliefs of the people. On reflection this was again too controversial a subject and again distracted away for our Agenda to what might have appeared my own hang'em and flog'em views.

As my opinion is far more refined on this issue, I should have replied that while she did not at times feel confident to vote on an issue it should not be a reason to prevent the rest of the population, if they so wished, to vote on a proposed government bill by means of a referendum or under certain circumstances to propose legislation for the government to consider. Answering her question that way would have prevented any distraction from the main point which is that our governance needs radical reform to become more democratic bringing government closer to the people and more responsive to their wishes, views and opinions.

In conclusion the trip to Taunton was worthwhile and I was assisted by my other half who accompanied me and made a note of the questions I was asked which is the reason I was able to consider the above two question in particular and how they could have better answered. So I now feel better placed to do the same again as and when any of the other nine schools take me up on my offer to talk on our Agenda. My last point is that we are hoping this year to develop other speakers in other parts of the country to arrange similar talks to interested parties including, schools, institutions and any other bodies who might be interested. If anyone is interested in helping to spread the word please get in touch.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The oxygen of populism

The trouble with our current political system is that the views of the public at large are not getting through to our MPs. Yes, I know they all ‘bang on’ about how they are kept in touch by their constituency surgeries but in reality, they only get to meet a vocal minority with specific problems while the views of the vast majority are seldom brought or get to their attention. It could not be clearer, over recent years, that our politicians seldom if ever speak for the ‘people’.

The problems start with the need, for anyone considering a career in politics, to join a party and become part of the ‘tribe’ and accept their mantras for without the support of a party machine the chances of getting elected as an independent are very slim. Adopting the ‘party-line’, from the start of a political career, means fresh ideas are not getting into the political arena which does of course presume that prospective candidates do have them! So, for example, if a new politician is an ardent climate sceptic he or she would have to suppress their views for fear of jeopardise their career prospects. As Bernard Shaw said: ‘He knows nothing; he thinks he knows everything – that clearly points to a political career!’

So, our system of governance will only be reformed when our politicians have to seriously take into account the views of the majority which is what our six demands set out to do. Our first demand requires that the people are recognised as sovereign and from this the other demands follow. Then demand two, ‘Real Local Democracy’, would allow constituents to agree the level of pay of their MPs and set up a procedure for recall between elections if they so desired. Demand three, ‘Separation of Powers’, would enable the whole of Parliament to keep the executive in check with demands four and five giving the people real power to reject or approve the government’s proposed legislation and annual taxation requirements. Finally demand six pulls everything together in a new codified constitution.

So, when enacted, the six demands of The Harrogate Agenda would really reform our current system of governance by ensuring new systems were in place to allow the views of the majority to be heard when so desired. Our Agenda allows the oxygen of populism to puncture the Westminster bubble allowing fresh ideas to enter the system from the people for the people.