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'democracy v2.0' - what would we like to see?

Discussion in 'off topic' started by Sue Pertwee-Tyr, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr Staying alert

    On another thread, we were discussing the fact that democracy is having a bit of a rough patch of late. I suggested that, as the UK thinks of itself as 'the father of modern [parliamentary] democracy' we could perhaps start to think about what 'democracy v2.0'* might look like.

    I think the main thing that has broken down is the relationship between people and Parliament; Parliament now seems to exist largely to serve its own interests, and those of the powerful individuals and lobbies which surround and fund it. Party influence and survival has supplanted the national interest as the overriding concern, witness the 'short-termism' embedded in government decision making, and the way powerful lobbies can influence key decisions.

    So I'd like to see decision-making put back to people, and moreover, the regions being more evenly represented. I'm not talking about referendums, but about People's Assemblies, Citizens' Juries, and similar. These require that ordinary people are, temporarily, co-opted to decide policy or direction of travel on key issues. Most importantly, the people are properly informed, by experts, about all sides of the issue before being asked to vote on it. I've seen a Citizens' Jury in action, and it is deeply impressive, and heartening, to see how seriously and diligently most participants approach the task.

    I'd like to see these set up on a regional basis, not just the four nations, but regions within those nations with different priorities, so England, say, would have, at the least, regional assemblies for the North West, North East, Midlands, South West, as well as London and the Home Counties. Each would carry equal weight. They could all feed into a central National Assembly, which would in effect be Parliament v2.0, and which would have the task of deciding on the outcome based on the balance of input from the various regional assemblies. The National Assembly should not be in London, but more centrally, geographically speaking, and might even move around from time to time. Not sure how we best elect National Assembly members, but I think we should devise a way to reduce the influence of political parties.

    For the cost of a few convention-style buildings, and some logistical and admin/research support, you could have this running, arguably in a workable form for something like the costs of the restoration of the Palace of Westminster.

    Anybody else got any ideas?

    *yes, I know, Ancient Greece and all that means it might have to be v3.0, but whatever ;)
    sean99 likes this.
  2. essgee

    essgee pfm Member

    I can see where you are coming from, but the UK and/or its individual countries is not that big. The last thing we need is a "United States of UK/Britain".
  3. Nick_G

    Nick_G pfm Member

    Well, a democracy can only function properly if citizens are well-informed. So, one thing I would do would be to make it an offence for politicians to deliberately lie, cheat, deceive or mislead the public for their own selfish gains. It's time that lying, corruption, cheating, and being found in contempt of Parliament actually has consequences. Otherwise we end up with mob rule and demagoguery.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  4. eisenach

    eisenach European

    Well, a decent (and fair) voting system would be a start.

    Apart from that, more power for the regions would be a good idea, I agree. I'd like to see something on the scale of the French régions, or maybe even a federal structure, like Germany.

    But it's all been floated before, and not all that long ago. In the 00s we had the labour proposals for regional assemblies. Another wasteful tier of government, screamed the papers, and we all know about the vile media campaign orchestrated against AV in the referendum in 2012 (was it?). AV might not be perfect, but at least it would have been a step forward, and better than FPtP.
  5. avole

    avole The wise never post on Internet forums

    Democracy has always assumed people were of equal intelligence and had equal analysis skills. Therefore, since neither is true, we need to move beyond democracy. Democracy 2 has the same built-in failings.
  6. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    Criminal prosecution for false election claims. Offending politicians to be stripped naked and flogged through the streets of Westminster.

    An end to the secret ballot, and the reintroduction of payment for votes, in cash or booze equivalent.

    Me to have power of veto over any election result and any proposed legislation, because I'm ace.
    mansr likes this.
  7. KrisW

    KrisW pfm Member

    The UK is an outlier in not having a regional government structure. Looking at your peers, all of them have elected regional governments:

    Germany is is 33% larger than the UK, with 25% more people living in it. It functions pretty well despite being subdivided into 16 states. Germany is constituted as a Federal republic, however, which is a very different arrangement to the UK's
    Italy is very much a regional nation (both historically and administratively), with central powers devolved to twenty separate regional administrations. Reforms made about 20 years ago did reduce the autonomy of some of these regions, but they are still able to retain direct taxes, pass legislation and operate their own infrastructure.
    Spain, again, has a strong regional system, although after some of the wild excesses of the early 2000s, the central government in Madrid has restricted the spending powers of those regions.
    Even France, despite a reputation for being a very centralised country much like the UK, consolidated its existing 22 regions down to thirteen (of between 5 and 12 Departments each) and gave them more autonomy, under the governorship of directly-elected Regional Councils.
  8. mansr

    mansr Objectionist

    I'm feeling a bit left out.

    My short answer to the title question is fewer politicians. The long answer definitely includes greater accountability for politicians (if we can't hang them all).
  9. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    On a more serious note, I would add:

    Public funding for political parties, allocated pro-rata based on number of votes coupled with an end to large donations from individuals and organisations.
    sean99, 2ManyBoxes and Woodface like this.
  10. mansr

    mansr Objectionist

    That would advantage the established big parties and make any challenge pretty much futile.
  11. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    Not if allied to some form of PR. It would at least prevent the buying of influence by wealthy companies or individuals.
  12. KrisW

    KrisW pfm Member

    That's pretty much how it works in Ireland. We have strict (and low) electoral spending limits (about £35,000 for a parliamentary campaign, more for European elections, as the constituencies are much larger), but there's a 20-25% refund if you end up with a credible showing (basically if you reach a quarter of the votes you'd have needed to get a seat). The limit for anonymous donations to a party is one hundred euro (£92) - anything above that needs to be declared, along with your tax details, and even then you're limited to around £5500 to any one party, and €2200 to any one candidate.

    The Irish political and electoral system replaced the Westminster model, and as such it includes a lot of measures that were there to address the deficiencies in the UK system as it stood in the 1920s (e.g., we use PR in multi-seat constituencies, constituencies are maintained at a narrow range of population sizes and are balanced between urban and rural wherever possible, a hung election never leaves the country without a government, etc.)
  13. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Can we start by rounding up most of the current set of b*stard MPs & dispatching them to work on the fields for a few weeks. Picking food, some of them can come & do my garden or pick up litter in the parks etc.

    I will assume temporary charge & get things sorted, should take me a few weeks but I am on Furlough so would work for free.
  14. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Proper PR, and end to lobbying, an end to corporate donations and individual limits on cash donations, mp wages and expenses to be voted on by the people, index linked mp pensions if the country does well they do well and vice versa. Banning mps from taking up directorships for five years after they cease being mps. Breaking of financial ties and influence on the bbc. New rules around misrepresentation of facts in office. And removal of police protection for former PMs, dont do ****y things and get involved in unjust military action and you wont have to look over your shoulder. A process for deselction of active mps by public ballot.

    And a fair few more...
  15. mansr

    mansr Objectionist

    I don't see the relevance of PR to that matter. Apportioning funding based on existing support means a party that gains some dominance is favoured, thus further strengthening its position. Even if the system was restarted with a blank slate, it would likely end up with two roughly equal-sized parties after a few cycles.
  16. mansr

    mansr Objectionist

    An easily implementable change would be to replace only a portion of Parliament in each (more frequent) election. Something like 1/4 of seats being voted on every two years or so. Local elections already work like this.

    The advantage of this over the current system would be avoiding the current tendency of general elections being determined entirely by a single issue (brexit).
    Sue Pertwee-Tyr likes this.
  17. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    That’s a very good idea, it also means that the current situation could be more easily mitigated against.
  18. davidjt

    davidjt pfm Member

    A search for books on Democracy on Amazon produces 75 pages with roughly 18 per page - even allowing for duplicates that's a lot of volumes on history, what went wrong and how to fix it.

    Slightly off-topic, but I liked the sound of 'Untrumping America'.
  19. Denzil Sequeira

    Denzil Sequeira Well-Known Member

    Democracy (in my opinion) has failed in some of the most prominent and largest democracies on Earth. The US, Brazil, India, the UK, Philippine, where the elected leaders are actually (in my opinion) the greatest threat to their own counties. In India and in the US it's the underbelly who think of their leaders like God's. It's more complex in India where regional politac leaders are bought and sold and keep switching political parties depending on who's paying the most. The failure of democracy has led to a dictatorship suddenly becoming the world's most powerful country.

    Here's the American problem :

  20. Bananahead

    Bananahead pfm Member

    Just stop your plotting and scheming in public.

    You need to move to the dark dark web.......
    Sue Pertwee-Tyr likes this.

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