So what is Direct Democracy?

Democracy, but surely we've got that? No, what we have is representative democracy. And the difference is all about participation. In direct democracy the voter gets more power which is why the present political elite are keen for things to stay as they are. Our representative system gives the voter the minimum of power for the maximum cost. In other words you vote occasionally but fund continuously. The political parties dominate the present process despite being very unpopular. The vast majority of citizens, the taxpayers, are ignored. Hence the weakness and, crucially, the undemocratic nature of representative democracy. This is what direct democracy seeks to change.

Direct Democracy

Selling out, buying in

It's your money but they waste it

The original Mr Bean The original Mr Bean

Poor old Vince Cable. Like his party his fortunes are on the way down. The Liberal Democrats look to be stuck as the fourth party in UK politics several points below UKIP for the foreseeable future. While the performance of the LibDem Leader, Nick Clegg, must be responsible for some of this he cannot shoulder all the blame; so attention switches to the coalition Business Secretary, Vince Cable. The National Audit Office says that the Royal Mail privatisation was wrong to sell the shares too cheaply and this has cost the taxpayer £750 million.

However, Cable is very proud of the way he handled the sell-off and has refused to resign. Perhaps we have to feel a little sorry for Cable as way back in late 2007 he was the Leader of his party and in a position to dish it out to Gordon Brown. It was during a debate on defence that Cable said -

The house has noticed the prime minister's remarkable transformation in the past few weeks - from Stalin to Mr Bean.

We now see that having a go at Brown was not only easy, he was a natural target, but the high-water mark for Cable. What a turn-around that Cable now finds himself being biffed by Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary.

Write to your MP?

The Prince and the Pauper, unequal treatment for those who would complain

Boots ahoy!Boots ahoy!
Despite what the press would have us think most people are normally ambivalent about the House of Windsor. When, for example, Prince Charles paid a visit to the Somerset Levels in flood the MSM followed him around as if this visit was very important. After all here was a man who has opinions on just about everything, not least 'climate change'. However, this boots in water moment might have been for the press and assorted public servants a moment to treasure but in reality was simply a circus. Charles thinks he knows best and thinks knows enough to be taken seriously and he's not above using his position to write to the government. True we can all do that but not with the same expectation.

But now after nine years of trying by the Guardian it looks like letters sent by Charles to government ministers and officials will be made public. The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, had blocked their publication despite a court action clearing the way for this. As we see all sorts of silly reasons why these letters should not be made public have been put forward. It is bad enough to suffer the distortions of a representative democracy but allowing Charles to influence in a way not open to all is totally wrong. The MSM gives far too much attention to this man and not enough to attempts to bring forward direct democracy.


The political manifesto

Promises or hype, how can we tell?

It does what it saysIt does what it says.

The Ronseal company has always been proud of its advertising slogan 'it does what it says on the tin'. However, this sort of integrity does not extend to politics. It takes a great deal of effort to research, create and then promote a coherent manifesto.

But if it no longer has any value would it be such a bad thing to get rid of it? Perhaps it would be sensible and not a sign of politics dumbing down. For if the political parties are no longer bothered about the manifesto then this brings direct democracy a step closer.

Because small local groups could form with a view to taking power and would be spared a great deal of effort. In other words a political party is no longer something so special because of its huge resources.

So why bother with a manifesto at all? Tradition has it that a political party seeks credibility by
making a promise and then carrying it out. This brings trust, support and loyalty and so the party grows. The manifesto today is an altogether different thing. Not least because credibility is deemed old fashioned.

Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats made promises about student tuition fees that could not be kept.

Benefit to whom?

The welfare state isn't working

1950's Ladywood, posh cars then as now!1950's Ladywood, posh cars then as now!

After this post in which we see that Gisela Stuart, Labour MP for Edgbaston wants local government, to be self financing, we have an upsurge of interest in the lives of inner city people with the Channel-4 programme, Benefits Street. Now it's a funny thing that James Turner Street, the location for the documentary, is a short walk from the Northern edge of Stuart's constituency, which would have a small number of streets in a similar state. However, Edgbaston also has huge numbers of large houses in sought after locations plus a business community. And, of course, it's from these that the money would come to make Edgbaston viable. In this respect Edgbaston is typical not only of Birmingham but most large cities too. By contrast Winson Green has little chance of being viable as it now stands. We would imagine this is why C4 selected it for their programme. In that respect it's ideal; crack that nut if you can! This general distribution of a small number of problem streets across a city means that the pressure for change like financial independence would work.

This brings us to the Department of Work and Pensions and their Universal Credit scheme.


The people not the party

How come political parties in decline are still in power?

The party needs you? The party needs you?
It is an anomaly that so few people are members of a political party yet the party system has such a powerful effect on UK politics. We should also be aware that we have a representative democracy form of government. Singly they are each a problem and in combination a disaster.

However, the political party framework is useful to the political elite as all they have to do is appeal to the party. It being such a small group it will be easier for the elite to influence and steer the public towards their wishes; rather than the other way around and be influenced by the public.

Then they can proclaim the the result is democracy in action. But is it? Traditionally there are but a few political parties in action at any one time. Can it be that the diversity of the voters, millions of people, can be satisfied with just two major and a few smaller parties?

The dynamic is wrong too. The voter must join them to make a difference. Whereas, you would have thought, that the parties hoping to get votes should do more to reach out and appeal to the public. But this is representative democracy in action. A system of many faults!

And it gets worse. Our failing system gives up its power, with scant reference to the public, to other power blocks. The EU is often portrayed as a counter-weight to 'failed' or 'obsolete' nationalism.

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