Manifesto for the Movement for Active Democracy. 2014
Background. Britain’s democracy is founded on the document of Magna Carta, of which there are several versions but is usually referred back to the revisions of 1216 or 1297.
At that time, and since, ‘democracy’ in Britain has normally only made allowance for the people of the country to periodically vote on a choice of representatives, who in themselves are not initially selected by the voting population but by a ‘party’– which is a controlled amalgamation of candidates.
These candidates, who become MP’s if elected, have historically had to be relied upon by the people to go to Parliament to supposedly put forward views on behalf of those who voted them in (and those who did not). Other than extremely rare referendums the people have never been allowed to vote on individual issues for themselves.
The argument in favour of having a representative MP’s was solely because of the physical limitations involved in travelling to Westminster to join in a voting process – in the past it simple was not feasible for everyone to make that journey when it took several days, and so a simplified system of approximation had to be implemented.
While this was obviously a poor and restricted manner to conduct the matter there was, at that time little choice and no better solution available, hence the creation of the concept of a ‘representative democracy’ which has been widely adopted throughout the world and is therefore often referred to simply as ‘democracy’ when it is not, as this is a very different thing.
Problems with ‘representative democracy’ occur as it is clearly impossible for any one person to accurately represent the views of any one other person, let alone the varying views of some tens of thousands of constituents who will have conflicting views with each other and have no choice other than to rely on that one representatives (or more likely their party’s position that is forced upon that representative) on each issue.
This problem is exacerbated because the representative is selected by the ‘party’ and therefore is expected, and often ordered (whipped), to cast their vote in accordance with the party’s aims and not allowed to exercise their personal good judgment.
All representatives are rewarded by the party for being ‘good’ (towing the party line – agreeing with the party leaders and supporting party policy) and can expect high profile roles in the cabinet (an inner steering group) and possibly the reward of a seat in the ‘House of Lords’ at the end of a loyal stint in the ‘House of Commons’ and the enhanced media attention related to both of those positions to flatter and massage the representatives ego.
This problem is compounded as the parties themselves are also biased in a number of ways. The most open of these is by the donation process whereby wealthy supports can donate (although invest may be a more accurate choice of words) to the party in return for leverage and a ‘sympathetic ear’ when requiring the assistance of the party or requiring a change in legislation to further their ambitions.
Far more sinister and less understood by the public is the system of ‘permanent under secretaries’ who have a role of ‘advising’ ministers but who actually use their position to sway policy. These under secretaries are almost exclusively white, public school educated (normally Harrow or Eton) privileged, comparatively wealthy, male and middle aged meaning that the view of the world and it’s workings in fact comes from a very singular and blinkered view point.
As a result the Ministers on the Cabinet are mostly reduced to ‘puppets’ who are chosen simply to read the decisions of the under secretaries to the press be it on the TV or in the newspapers – thus ensuring that their ego is intact even though they have little or nothing to do with the decisions made on their behalf.
Principles. Technology has moved on. Where once it was impossible for each of us to have our say we can all visit Westminster in the blink of an eye. Every person in Britain has access to internet, mobile and land line telephones and so there is no reason to continue with an 800 year old tradition which has clear and undesirable limitations.
Objective. To update the constitution to allow the people of Britain to enter into the decision process whenever they choose.
Method. Sadly, and wrongly, the British government would never consider putting in place a fair system allowing for the people to govern themselves as this would mean a huge loss of power for themselves. This is unacceptable.
The only possibility therefore to implement this reasonable and just policy is for a party wishing to implement real democracy in Britain, as defined in the meaning of the word as derived from the Greek words ‘demos’ and ‘kratia’ meaning ‘the people rule’ is to place a candidate in every constituency and to win a majority in parliament at a general election. This is the sole mandate of the Movement for Active Democracy.
Benefits. Enabling the people to take an active role in making the decisions of the country would remove the power from the hands of the few and place it in the hands of the many. As such the system would be much less corruptible and wouldn’t suffer so severely from outside influences or vested interests that lurk beneath the governmental veneer.
Letting the public take control of their country would spark national pride and interest that is sadly lacking in Britain today. Being a voting shareholder in ‘Great Britain plc’ would encourage people to take an active interest in the running and decision making process affecting their country and their future.
Allowing a small handful of individuals to make decisions cannot and could never be more accurate than taking the opinions of the whole voting population. Statistically speaking, the larger the sample the more accurate is likely to be the result. Currently the number of people involved in making any particular decision on which we must all abide can be as few as 5, or one nine millionth of the voting population, or, graphically, the same proportion as one second is to 1000 days.
Because this platform is so simple by removing any need for large manifestos full of policies and election promises a government can be formed from people with diverse political leanings creating a much more realistic sub-section of the population.
The power of government is curtailed in that each member of parliament, while being better positioned than most to enter into the discussions, would only have the power of a single vote in a voting population of around 45 million, ensuring that debate is encouraged but the peoples will ultimately makes the decisions.
The Mechanism. While government would still sit and discuss issues as it does today any large group of people (50,000) could raise a ‘significant concern’ thereby forcing a referendum on any policy put forward. Similarly, anyone can propose policy and if supported by any large group of people (50,000) would initiate a ‘peoples initiative’ and unilaterally introduce legislation to be put on to the ‘ladder of ideas’. Everyone would have the power to promote or demote each idea once meaning the best ideas percolate to the top where they would be subject to further discussion and then put to a referendum, with the result being binding on the government.
Voting would be by commonplace communications means (Internet, mobile phone Apps, texting, touch tone phone or at the Post Office for non-computer users) with voters inputting their national insurance number, five digit pin, issue reference and preference. The votes would be registered in three entirely separate locations and the results produced live and in front of witnesses to ensure that all three tallied, removing all opportunity to cheat.
Referendum voting would be optional, open for a one month period and the result binding on government. If a referendum fails then the issue could not be placed on the register for voting on again within five years.
The House of Lords would be an entirely elected assembly with extremely limited powers enabling them to comment but not legislate, and whose mandate would be solely to provide an overview of the checks and balances to ensure rights, such as human rights legislation, fiscal feasibility and that the concept is not a ‘nonsense’, and to form any new policy into a workable and legally supportable document.
It is therefore the sworn policy of any elected candidate standing for the Movement for Active Democracy to support and strive for the implementation of the above system where the people of Britain are given the freedom to govern themselves by being involved in every decision they choose to vote on in what will be the first true democracy.