Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Oh, brother!

Over on The Telegraph, Stephan Shakespeare announces the saviour of democracy - a voters union.

Voters must be a central part of the renewal process and the National Union of Voters will be a democratic movement that makes it easier for people to represent themselves.

I don't actually think many people want to represent themselves - they are generally too busy getting on with the day to day things like earning a living - they want their elected MP to represent them. That is, after all, what they are there for.

The union starts with the belief that there are four big weaknesses in our democracy.

Indeed there are.

First, the problem of too many MPs thinking they have a safe seat for life.

Err, no - that's not on my list. That's a problem with constituency boundaries, but nothing to do with democracy per se.

Second, the political class has hidden important information about its income, expenses and connections for too long. We need complete transparency.

Nope, not on my list either. Transparency is important, but our democratic system more or less has that. Politicians on the take is nothing new.

Third, political parties rely on a few big donors for their money. They would be a lot more responsive to voters if they had to raise their funds from them.

Well - sort of. Some of the "big donors" are actually private individual voters who happen to be wealthy and anything above £5000 has to be declared. I'm all for limiting donations from individuals to £500 and making it illegal to accept donations from business or corporations (including unions and NGOs), but more important for me is to end the professional lobbying that goes on from these groups.

Fourth, the mainstream parties agree on too many big issues, denying debate as they cling to each other like spent boxers.

At last we agree on something! The biggest problem in our democracy that I can see is the lack of choice and the replacement of real argument and debate with mud-slinging and name-calling. The three main parties each believe in our membership of the EU which means they each have more or less the same political agenda give or take some minor detail differences.

In recent years two significant parties have emerged that differ from that viewpoint - BNP and UKIP - and have tapped in, in differing ways, to the groundswell of disillusionment and disinterest in our political system with varying degrees of success.

They both agree on withdrawal from the EU and share a belief in some form of British nationalism, but other than that there are few similarities between the two parties. It would make a huge difference to our democracy - in my opinion - if those two parties were somehow able to make a meaningful breakthrough that actually led to real debate about the issues that concern British people.

Unfortunately, both BNP and UKIP have reverted to modern political styles and opted for exchanging insults rather than meaningful debate. Were they to pursue the latter rather than the former I think we could see a real grass roots democracy movement grow in this country.

Imagine what would happen if UKIP and BNP arranged to have a series of political debates in various towns and locations up and down Britain where ordinary people - rather than the media - were able to hear them debate, proper debate, and ask questions. Don't bother with the other parties - chances are they wouldn't take part anyway - just UKIP and BNP for now.

The important thing would be to keep the meetings civil and restrict discussion to genuine political issues - not name calling or spurious arguments about party constitutions or the misbehaviour of various current or former members.

The debates could be filmed and posted on You Tube as well as the parties websites allowing more and more people to see and hear for themselves some real political dialogue.

UKIP and the BNP represent the only true opposition to government - whichever party is governing at the time. If they were to unite - not politically, but strategically - they could seriously invigorate our politics and our democracy much more than some half-baked, ill-conceived "union" of voters.


Dave H said...

I'd love to help deliver the biggest insult possible to this vile Government: a BNP gain.

What worries me is that when afterwards some harmless black guy is killed in a racist attack, I may be partly responsible.

North Northwester said...

Of course, the BNP's famous for getting on the Tube with a bad attitude - but not, strangely enough, with explosives.

Still and all, I've decided to be 'U' this time - and every time in Europe - till all the Tories decide we're better off out.

AgainsTTheWall said...

"Imagine what would happen if UKIP and BNP arranged to have a series of political debates....."

The Left does not permit the BNP to hold open, public meetings. Dissent is not allowed.