Sunday, 17 May 2009

Democracy - What Future?

Musings prompted by an article on Independence Home and a post on EUReferendum and which also ties in with an earlier post of mine.

To take the Independence Home article first, is there any constitutional bar on HM Queen dissolving Parliament as suggested? This would allow time for a new 'expenses and allowances' scheme to be produced. It would also allow time for other, immediate, problems to be addressed such as whether there should be a 're-call system' introduced for MPs, whether parties should have the sole responsibility of candidate selection, whether such selection procedures should be by means of 'open primaries'. Where I differ with the opinion of Independence Home is that I believe it wrong for Parliament to be the sole instigator/arbitrator of any new system. By all means let the MPs and Sir Christopher Kelly's committee come up with what they consider a 'viable and fair' system, however no-one seems to have remembered that Parliament is our, the people's, Parliament and that we pay for it. Therefore perhaps this system should be put to a referendum for the people to decide? Let the Parliamentarians sell/justify their ideas to us. On the basis that MPs twitter endlessly about democracy - without in most cases even understanding the meaning of the word - would that not be 'democracy in action'?

Turning to Richard North's post on EUReferendum, he states:

"Arguably, we need to adopt the US system, where the head of the executive – the prime minister, in this country – is elected separately and appoints his own cabinet, from outside parliament, and is held collectively and individually to account by a wholly independent parliament......Their [the media] picture of a perfect democracy, it seems, is MPs posting their expenses on the internet." and " Booker observes, part of the dynamic which has led us to our current sorry state is the process by which Parliament has allowed itself to be stripped of its powers, with much of our legislation being outsourced to Brussels."

The merits of Richard North's first suggestion are many and, if coupled with ideas from The Plan by Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan, a system devised whereby House of Commons Select Committees are elected by secret ballot, whereby any non-governmental body (Quango/Fake Charity) has an agreed budget and that budget and expenditure is open to monitoring by the Select Committees and Parliament, whereby any 'programme' put forward by a Prime Minister is debated in the Commons, disected and questions answered and the proposal defended by the Prime Minister. By this means it is possible a 'hung parliament' is elected,and in so happening, might just introduce a system which allows for 'consensual' government.

The point raised about the attitude of the media to the expenses problem is well made - the subjects of Britain's membership of the European Union and the European election are both of equal importance to that of 'Expensegate'. The silence by the media on those latter two points does beg the question, to cynics such as me, as to whether we do indeed have a free press.

On the subject of the European Union, perhaps it should be explained that with withdrawal Britain would have the ability to introduce any form of 'democracy' it wished. This could include, for example, scrapping of vat and introducing a 'flat tax' system, of restoring the right of making planning decisions without 'outside' interference to local authorities, of allowing local authorities full control over their police, education and health systems, to scrapping the 'Cabinet System' of local government and restoring the principle of enfranchisement to all local councillors.

The reforms needed to our 'democracy' are many and if MPs and, more importantly, party leaders wished to show their worth they could use the time, until the date of the Queen's dissolution of Parliament, to propose a new system of democracy for this country. Now that would be something!