Thursday, 12 June 2014

Good ways in which to make British politics actually democratic

There has been much debate in the House of Commons recently at granting voters a supposed 'right of recall' to recall their MPs. However, it appears at present that the proposed Recall Bill will be a farce, especially given the fact that under the proposed terms of the Recall Bill, consent of MPs will be required for the recall to be valid, which runs counter to its democratic purpose. 

This is a highlight of how fundamentally rotten British politics really is, with its nepotism, backroom deals, bribery, unfair representation, unelected second chamber, and lack of real meritocracy. All this turns many voters off, especially in urban areas where turnout has been particularly below average over the last 20 years.

Here are 8 great ways to make Britain a truly democratic state: (and not a semi-feudal relic)

1. First and foremost, abolish the monarchy and all hereditary titles (Duke, Marquess etc.). Privilege and power based simply by happening of birth and not on merit and hard work has no place in a modern and democratic society at all.
2. Abolish the House of Lords. It is unelected and unaccountable, and effectively controlled by the leaders of major political parties, who can use it as a home for failed and/or retired politicians. Also, many nations now have unicameral legislatures (which is what happens in local governments in most countries) anyway, and the lack of a second house to escape to will be a good incentive for our public representatives to perform well.
3. Abolish the first past the post system (FPTP) for all elections and replace it with a fair and honest system. I suggest Single Transferable Vote (STV) which works very well in Ireland, and allows for both parties and independent candidates to have a fair chance of getting their message across to the electorate.
4. Take the influence of money out of politics. The varying deposit requirements (£500 for Parliamentary elections, £5000 for lists wanting to stand in European elections in the UK) to stand in UK elections above local level are not effective at deterring frivolous candidates and unfairly disadvantage smaller parties, and independent candidates, especially those with disabilities. Business donations to parties should also be prohibited, as is the case in Canada.
5. Introduce new laws, and tighten existing laws, requiring media outlets to give fair coverage to all parties contesting elections, not just those who support the media outlets' viewpoints. This will importantly mean the Green Party and other minor parties can get a fair chance for their voice to be heard, which infamously was not given by the BBC or OFCOM.
6. Allow Swiss-style referendums on some major issues, especially over what happens to our public services. This way, once public services are returned to public ownership, which needs to happen as soon as possible, the public will be able to use the ballot to stop them ever being privatised again.
7. Give local government more power, and more control over their finances, especially the power to raise their own money. A centralisation-focused system regarding local government is unfair and inefficient, and wrongly puts local councils at the mercy of Whitehall and the Local Government Secretary. 
8. And finally, allow the possibility of recalling MPs, as I mentioned above, if they grievously misrepresent us, the electorate.

This will be very useful not only for the Green Party and also minor political parties, but also for Great Britain as a whole.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Alan,

    Why do you put abolishing the Monarchy and hereditary titles as the "first and foremost" thing to do? The monarchy plays a purely ceremonial role in British politics. Most of the countries we, as Greens, want to emulate are constitutional monarchies, rather than republics. And hereditary titles are now not at all connected to politics (a handful of hereditaries still sit in the Lords, but that can be solved by having an elected second chamber or abolishing the second chamber altogether).

    I can understand why you'd want a purely symbolic change like that in your list, but placing it as the "first and foremost" priority gives the impression that you value style over substance.