Monday 21 February 2022

Swiss sytle Direct Democracy.

 On the 13th February the Swiss held a binding referendum to seek the views of people on four legislative proposals. All four questions were on the same ballot sheet.

The people only suppoted one of the four rejecting the other three against the government's wishes.

The results and topic were as follows:-

  1. Agreed to limit tobacco advertising
  2. Rejected ban on animal testing
  3. Rejected abolish of stamp duty on Swiss companies
  4. Rejected increase funding to Swiss media.

 Further details are here which I'm afraid you will have to cut and paste as this blog still doesn't do links that open:-

As I've covered before on this blog Switzerland has three tyypes of referendums:-

1. Popular - which allow the people to make proposals

2. Facultative/Optional - which allows the people to approve or reject gvoernment legislation

3. Mandatory - Needed if the issue alters the constitution.

This is real democracy in action as it is the people's views that should be paramount over their elected representatives who should be their servants and not their masters.

Monday 14 February 2022

Official government Petition on Net Zero.

At the last election the two main parties committed to Net Zero by 2050 with the Lib Dems setting out to get there more quickly but no party gave any details, except for the odd line in their manifestos. Whoever you voted for Net Zero was a given.

In October’s budget Rishi Sunak increased total spending and taxes, neither being good for economic recovery, but made no mention of the potential £3 trillion bill for meeting the government’s Net Zero target. Interestingly, in the Telegraph recently, a poll showed that 42% of adults supported a vote on Net Zero.

This is the reason I launched this official government petition on the 27th October last year to give the ‘People’ a say. The petition title is ‘Hold a referendum on whether to keep the 2050 Net zero target.

This is the link to it –

The petition goes on to state:-

“I believe the Net Zero lacks legitimacy and without a referendum the current Climate change policy lacks the explicit consent of the people, as argued by The Harrogate Agenda. This exposes a massive democratic deficit in our system of government.”

The petition will be up for six months, until April 27th. We achieved 10,000 signatures in the first two weeks and received an official response from the government. After a rapid start we have slowed and now stand at just under 22,000 votes, and now seem unlikely to get to 100,000 votes which is the requires number to make the government consider whether to schedule a debate in parliament on the subject.

While I believe there is pressure building on the government backbenches to challenge this policy, the ‘People’ should also have their say. If we can reach 100,000 votes it will give the government cause to consider whether proceeding without the consent is electorally wise. With THA’s six demand in place, and particular demand four ‘The People’s Consent’ the people would have the mechanisms to call for a referendum on the policy but in the meantime this petition, is the only tool available to ‘us’ and we should not waste it.

In the next few weeks, I will be stepping up my campaign of e-mailing the MSM to try and get them to give airtime to this petition to build on the limited success I’ve had so far with The Freedom Association, Bruges Group, Free Speech Union and GWPF who have all helped to promoted it.

If you believe in democracy, whether you support or oppose this government’s Net Zero policy, you should sign this petition and more importantly pass it on to your friends and contacts. The decision to proceed on this hugely costly, important and divisive issue should not be for the government alone to make but should involve the ‘People’ in a referendum.




Monday 7 February 2022

Protests, Petitions and Referendums

We all know that the 'People' get to vote at elections, albeit an increasing number don't bother, but between them the only avenues available to express dissent is to take to the streets or raise a petition.

The street protests over the war in Iraq, on 13th February 2003, numbered around million in the UK and 36 million around the world but as we know achieved nothing. In general street protests come and go and seldom achieve their aim.

Petitions, have now been formalised by the government with the ability to raise a petition on the government’s website. The petitions are up for six months like this one currently running on Net Zero started by me under THA banner.

After 10,000 signature you are guaranteed a government response, which we have had, and if the petition reaches 100,000 you might, but it is not definite, get a debate in parliament. The petition currently has over 21,000 'votes' and runs until 27th April this year.

Private petitions delivered to No 10 Downing Street are another route to go but, unlike the government's official website, do not guarantee a response let alone a possible debate in parliament. 

Either way, petitions or protests, are fairly blunt instruments and will change little with government's able to ignore both. This applies to protests and petitions against or demanding changes to government policy or demanding the government consider a new policy not on their current legislative programme. In the first case it is true parliament has to approve the policy but a government with a reasonable majority is seldom defeated.

So, unless the government initiates a referendum, as they did over staying in the Common Market and EU exit, the votes on devolution and the one on AV, then the people are pretty powerless to change a government's mind having to wait until the next election to voice their opinion.

Our fourth demand 'The People's Consent' gives the people the power to initiate three types of referendum. The first is to recommend the government considers new laws, the second is to stop a piece of legislation and the third allows the people to challenge the decisions of their government or official bodies - by elected and appointed officials, including ministers and judges.

To prevent endless referendums being raised they would need to meet set benchmarks before being approved and would only carry weight if the vote, when held, passed a set turnout criteria and a received a clear majority for the proposal.

As is apparent government policy is often determined by well-funded professional lobbying groups so it is time the 'People' had the mechanisms to demand its government take certain actions or stop a particular policy. Our petition for a referendum on the government's £3 trillion Net Zero policy, which has no democratic mandate, is of course a case in point.

After a quick start voting has slowed so I recently arranged for 100 postcards, promoting our petition, to be sent to likely MPs asking them to support and promote our petition. I have other avenues I shall pursue over the coming months but without our fourth demand set in law it is very difficult for the people to be heard.

 Finally, as the 'Establishment' discovered, to their costs, with the Brexit vote, the ‘People’ do have their own opinions and real democracy should have the mechanisms for the ‘People’ to demand a referendum.




Tuesday 1 February 2022

Why we support an elected Prime Minister.

Last week I wrote to Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House, after he appeared on the news suggesting that if Boris was defeated in his Confidence vote we should then have a General Election.


The main reason he was suggesting this would be necessary was because our General Elections had become increasingly ‘Presidential’ being centred around who the country wanted as their PM with the decision on which party would form the government becoming the secondary consideration.


I feel sure that JRM’s point was very ‘party political’ as he was trying to sure up the PM’s position by warning the ‘rebels’ that ousting Johnson could well end up threatening their seats in another GE.


Even so I wrote to him to explain how our third demand ‘A Separation of Power’ also included the reasons why we supported an elected PM with his cabinet, approved by but sitting outside parliament would greatly improve the accountability of governments and therefore our democracy overall.   


An elected PM would prevent the party anointments that allowed Major, Brown, May and initially Johnson to become PM. The process would be very simple in that at elections as well as voting for your MP you would also vote for the candidate you wanted to be Prime Minister.


As to the legitimacy of PMs let’s consider David Cameron as a recent example. When he became PM. He gained office by virtue of 33,973 votes in the 2010 election. All these came from 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 PM through a general franchise.


At the moment, with the current Conservative Party 'charade' of trying to oust Johnson the need for an elected PM, by general franchise, could not be stronger. We also believe, as in America, they should only serve for a maximum of eight years.   


It is possible that this could lead to a PM who was from a different party to the one with a majority of MPs in the Commons but that doesn't stop the process of governance it just creates the need for policy compromises which is an important element of democracy. In America, for example, we have had a Democratic President with a Republican House of Representatives and the basics of their governance still functioned.


Finally, how parties select their leaders is up to them but that wouldn’t exclude another candidate from the same party putting their name forward. An elected PM has the distinct advantage of having been endorsement by the people.


Our democracy would be approved by having our PM elected by the people.