Monday 19 November 2018

Demand Four - The People's Consent.

This demand is in three parts with each giving the people the ‘Power’, given certain criteria are met, to call for a referendum on any given matter.

The basic method for trigger a referendum, in all three areas, would be the raising of a petition given the set benchmark of signatures has been met. The next requirement is that a certain percent of the available electorate has to turn out to vote and then the third element is that the majority, to get change, has to be significant. The exact detail of each of the three stages is not yet set but what should be clear is that to hold a referendum is no easy matter.

So the first area a referendum could be held is only advisory on the government and can cover any matter than the public wish to draw to the government's attention. So for example if the correct number sign a petition to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph then they could attempt to get a referendum held but the result if passed by the requisite number would only be advisory.

The second area that a referendum could be held is to specifically challenge a piece of government legislation before it becomes law. If the vote meets the requirements then the government’s bill is defeated. This gives the people real power over their government.

The third area in which the public could challenge decisions and seek rejection would be the decisions made by government or official bodies also elected and appointed officials including ministers and judges. Again strict benchmarks would need to meet and the sort of things that could be challenged would be planning consents and the sentences handed down by judges.  

This demand is critical to our whole agenda as it places real power in the hands of the public and therefore the ability to stop the government’s legislation if the majority so wish it.

Finally to avoid the public simply repeating the call for a referendum, should they not get the decision they want, we propose a ‘don’t ask again clause’ to cover a certain period  and while we suggest a period of 25 years in our pamphlet this would need to be discussed in further detail with a possible alternative being a yes/no question added to every referendum which asks if the public wish to be consult again on the issue within a defined period.

This demand gives real power to the people over their politicians and parliament which both become subordinate, under certain conditions, to a sovereign people.    

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Demand Three – Separation of Powers.

This demand has two separate but linked parts.

First, that our Prime Minister should be elected by the people thus preventing the party anointments that allowed Major, Brown and May to become PM. So at the time of elections as well as voting for a party you also get to vote for the PM you want.

Second, that the cabinet (executive), as in America, should be completely separate from parliament (legislature) thus allowing the whole of the House of Commons to hold the executive to account.     

Returning to the first part let’s consider the legitimacy of David Cameron when he became PM. He gained office by virtue of 33,973 votes in the 2010 election. All these came form his constituency of Witney, which boasted 78.220 electors.  The rest of the nation was not allowed a vote for the man. He may have been elected as an MP, but he was not elected as prime minister through a general franchise.

As to Parliament it should and must hold the executive to account but with our cabinet being mainly selected from the H of C as with ALL ministers, that totals around 200 MPs who are compromised, and if they know what is good for their careers will not want to rock the boat within their own party.

So when formulating this demand we concluded that ministers and other office holders cannot be members of parliament. If members become ministers, they must resign as MPs. As a consequence PMs must appoint their own ministers - from whatever source they choose -  subject to parliamentary confirmation and dismissal. This has the added advantage of widening the recruitment pool.

As to our monarch she or he remains head of state with their duties unchanged. The PM keeps that title and while elected they are still PM and not a President.

Finally we would suggest the term of office for the newly elected PM should be, as in America, a maximum of eight years. However that detail shouldn’t distract from the basic principle that we should have an elected PM and their ministers must be separate from Parliament and held to account by it.     

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Demand Two - Real Local Democracy.

This demand is based on two key principles. The first is that decisions should be made as close to the people they impact on and second, that central government should concentrate on matters of national importance such as Home and Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security and the national  finances.

Currently our local authorities are nothing more than central government agencies established to administer centrally-defined laws at local level. So our aim is to invert the entire structure of the British state. Instead of top-down systems, we need to start locally and create structures built from the bottom up. So these local authorities – which could be counties, cities or the former county boroughs – become independent legislatures in their own right. Those that feel that local authorities are too small to become legislatures need to consider the likes of the sovereign state of Iceland, with a population of around 300,000, which is smaller than the London Borough of Croydon or the Metropolitan District of Bradford and Yorkshire alone is larger than over 100 countries in the UN.

Controlling taxation is at the heart of true localism, to which effect we believe local governments structures, as constitutional bodies, should become the primary collectors of tax. We would envisage that they would collect most if not all the taxes from the people and enterprises resident or operating within their areas of jurisdiction. In this system the surplus from their own areas would be remitted to central government with poorer authorities sending less per capita to the centre.

So when local taxation prevails, allied with local democracy, there is every opportunity for variable tax rates and thus real tax-competition between local authorities which would create downward pressure on taxation for the first time.

Another plus is that Westminster MPs would become even less important than they are now, while democratic representation at local level becomes more relevant and more important. This then could see a reduction in MPs to around 300 with a reformed Upper House of say 100.

Details of how individual MPs and members of the Upper House are selected might be left to the electors of the county set out in each local constitution and implemented by local legislators. After all if we are to have localism, then the terms and conditions governing the employment of representatives should be decided locally. Thus MPs could be funded by their local authorities with the people having a direct say in what they are paid and also how much their expenses  should be.  Also if one area wanted to introduce a system of recall, between elections, then they would be free to do so.

Thus with this demand we see democracy close to the people , with government – local and national – under the direct control of the people – anything else is not democracy.