Wednesday 30 June 2021

Democracy Swiss style

I have a Google ‘Alert’ for any matters on Direct Democracy and last week I received the link to the article at the bottom of this post.

In summary - On June 13th this year the sovereign Swiss people rejected the so-called CO2 Law to curb green house gas emissions. The legislation would have raised fees and taxes on fuel and airline flights in 2022.

The Swiss system of Direct Democracy empowers citizens more than a Representative Democracy. It allows major policy decisions to be subjected to referenda and citizens’ assessments, effectively correcting excesses of politics by party interests.

Our fourth demand ‘The People’s Consent’ lays out the mechanisms which would allow the people the chance, through a successful petition, to obtain a referendum. We suggest there should be three types, advisory, to stop proposed new or cancel existing legislation and allowing the public to express opinions on certain types of government decisions or official bodies.  Before a referendum was granted all three would be subject to qualifying petition results and then sensible benchmarks being met on turnout and winning margin.

The importance of how the use of referenda would improve democracy and political accountability cannot be overstated. One of the key points is that once a referendum had been granted, by a revamped body like the Electoral Commission, there would be an ‘official’ campaign period when both sides would be able to explain their positions.

Whatever you may think of ‘official’ referendum campaigns, given the issues around Brexit, it does NOT take away from the fact the public do get to hear both sides of the debate over a specific period of say a month.

The generation of the official phase for debate would allow the public to hear both sides of the argument, in some cases for the first time, and give them time to weigh up whether they supported the motion or not. For those who believe the people cannot be trusted to make such decisions I would firmly stress that our politicians do not have a great record in legislating sound well thought out laws.

Another factor is that currently, if our politicians pass ‘bad’ laws, nobody is held to account and yet it is the people that suffer the consequences. Alternatively, if the ‘People’ make a bad decision they will have to live with their mistake and would hopefully learn from it.

Politicians don’t like Direct Democracy, as it puts power into the citizens’ hands, but it is the closest democratic system to REAL DEMOCRACY there is and the sooner the people wake up and demand it the better.

 The full article is here :-,politics,3547.html


Wednesday 23 June 2021

How can we control our MPs performance and behaviour?

General, Bye and Local elections come and go each with their own dynamic but few if any associated with the quality and performance of the politician in question.

Party loyalties and National issues are but two of the considerations electors usually consider before voting and as they say in safe Labour seats, like the Rhondda, you could pin a red rosette on a donkey and it would get elected. Looking at the quality of most of our MPs a donkey might actually be preferable in some cases!  

This situation needs to change if we are serious about the true meaning of democracy. This means we need to restore the direct link between our politicians and the people they serve. Democracy, as I’ll never tire of stating, comes from the Greek words demos meaning people and Krakos meaning power – so that’s ‘People Power’.

What we have at the moment is not real democracy and we have allowed this transfer of power to politicians and so if we want change, we will have to make this happen. This means we must demand the return of our inherent sovereignty so that ‘We the People’ hold the ultimate power over our politicians. Our fourth demand gives us the mechanisms to challenge government legislation and, if enough of us wish it, to stop it.

Another key ingredient to restoring real democracy is the de-centralisation of power out to counties and local communities. The idea that centralising anything, apart from the likes of our National Defence, makes for a better governance is provably wrong. Unsurprisingly nobody in the centre understands or accepts this as they continue to empire build from the luxury of their ivory towers! The old adage that ‘Turkey’s wouldn’t vote for Christmas’ comes to mind.

One of the suggestions in our second demand, ‘Real Local Democracy’, is that each county could vote for a system of MP recall if enough people supported the idea. Thus the second demand concludes:-

 “We could also envisage a situation where MPs are no longer paid from central funds, but by their counties. It would be for the people of each county to decide how much their representatives were paid, how much should be allowed by way of expenses, and how they should be held accountable. Also, if one area wanted to introduce a method of MP recall, that would be up to them. Thus, do we see democracy closer to the people, with government – local and national -under the direct control of the people. Anything else is not democracy.    

If the people want change, then they are going to have to work for it because what is abundantly clear is that our politicians will not relinquish power, that changes their privileged positions, without a fight.    




Thursday 17 June 2021

Where does power actually lie?

 Professional lobbying organisations are in no doubt ‘Power’ resides in Westminster which is why they concentrate all their effort, time and money there. People who lobby parliament include businesses, charities, pressure groups, trade unions and representatives of various sectors of industry. What lobby groups also know is that courting the public is not necessary to influence politicians.

The reason for this is that the Westminster parliament is sovereign with all power emanating from it. As a result, the UK is almost unique in not having a codified constitution with entrenched provisions. Parliament can enact legislation on any subject matter it likes, but it cannot bind its successors.  

We, the people, are left out of the decision-making process except at election time when we get to decide and vote on the party we want. Apart from our past allegiances we only have the party manifestos to help us decide who to support. But increasingly they are not worth the paper they are written on as governments produce policies and laws mostly by reacting to events as they occur. Our current Covid situation being a classic example.

On the other hand, political movements campaigning for political change know only too well that to be effective they need to get the support of the public at large. There are a number of political organisations and movements that over the years have grown up to fight for specific causes like those associated with leaving the EU being a prime example. These include groups like the Campaign for an Independent Britain, the Bruges Group, The Freedom Association and the Democracy Movement.

They certainly all played their part in keeping our membership of the EU near the top of the political agenda and of course UKIP, as a political party, was also born. The combination of Eurosceptic movements and a political party certainly forced Cameron into offering us a referendum. The point though to stress is that it was the support of millions of ordinary ‘People’ that forced our politicians to listen and act as they proved in a number of UK and Euro elections that they were a force to be reckoned with.

As Brexit has happened the issue that needs to be addressed is how do the people continue to exercise control over our politicians and parliament and indeed even stop them from reversing the 2016 referendum result should they decide to do so? There is no simple answer apart from the long-term reform to our system of governance that would ensure the people have to be consulted before such a decision could be made.  What this means in practice is that sovereignty has to be returned to the people making our politicians our servants instead of our masters.

Sovereignty belongs to the people and while they still elect governments to govern it is their inherent right that ultimate power resides with them and not parliament. However, be under no illusion that our politicians are not going to give up power without a fight.   

So, this issue should now be at the forefront of all individuals and movements, that campaigned for us to leave the EU, as there was little point in freeing us from the dictates of Brussels to still find yourselves beholden to our own politicians.

The millions of individuals involved, over the years, in fighting to leave the EU should be natural bedfellows to support our six demands which clearly sets out the mechanisms that would prevent us being bypassed should we wish to have our say.

The reform of our system of governance, in line with our six demands, should appeal to all true democrats because without our reforms we will remain at the mercy of our politicians in Westminster who regularly display just how out of touch they are with majority opinion. 

Whatever else your political ambitions if you believe in ‘real’ democracy you should support our agenda and help promote its value in achieving government ‘Of the People, By the People, For the People’.