Direct Democracy

Will politicians guard our democratic rights? Witterings from Witney wrote about Hannan and Carswell’s The Plan:

With the introduction of the Coalition’s e-petition scheme (and allowing that I have conflated Peoples Bills and Petitions in that their aim is similar; namely the objective being to introduce, annul or change a law), it is pertinent to note that Hannan and Carswell write:

“Our aim should be to import the key advantage of the Citizens Initiative – that it prevents politicians from ignoring matters of overwhelming public concern – without derogating from parliamentary sovereignty. The only way to do this is through Peoples Bills: legislative proposals put on the agenda of the House of Commons having attracted popular support in petitions. There would be no obligation on MPs to pass the Bills; but they would have to debate and vote on them and then be held responsible for how they voted.”

And the difference between this and that which is proposed by the present day Coalition, is? There is no difference, because what Hannan and Carswell propose is a continuation of the present status quo, namely politicians having the ‘upper hand’, the final decision on that which the people want. Actually there is, because what Hannan and Carswell propose is that any petition is accompanied by an administration fee and a deposit – the latter which would be forfeited should that petition ‘fall’ as only the six most popular proposals would progress to the next stage. Following any debate on those six, they propose that MPs would then have the right to amend those Bills at will – yet more ‘central control’. (Whether there is merit in an administration fee and a deposit is not for discussion here, but in a post to come).

A further example of parliamentary control is exhibited in “The Plan” where Hannan & Carswell write further on petitions and citizen’s bills. Making the point that in the United States, where 24 states operate citizen’s initiatives and 26 do not, it is possible to make a like-with-like comparison.

Read the whole thing.

The issue is, it seems to me, that we’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The Common Purpose infiltrated councils and other local authorities are ready and waiting to “lead beyond authority” and in fact are already doing so, which kills off the idea of Communitarianism as an effective solution and it’s always worried me that WfromW has been a localist. Not that localism is wrong but that it is a tied up game, from regional authorities down to the local council, including “citizen’s juries“.

The solution by Hannan and Carswell, above, leaves the ultimate power over what goes forward and what doesn’t in the hands of the politicians.

I proposed an unoriginal solution which WfromW appears to have forgotten, Meritocracy and Direct Democracy.   I need to credit Lord T with some of this. Now, leaving aside the Meritocracy part for the moment, the direct democracy or blackbox system is quite feasible and we have the technology, via television ratings systems, to achieve it.

So, on any major issue, those with the blackbox directly give their opinion. It seems to me that we’d have chaos unless some intermediate stage was introduced at its inception whereby a certain amount of “qualified” opinion would precede the lay opinion, in order for legislation to go forward.  I mean that the for and against cases are put – it would become second nature – and anyone voting goes through the material and answers questions of fact on that material, e.g. Q4: Longrider said what about the most effective way to deal with the riots, in Document 2W4:3B8?”  Something like that.

Having got eight from ten questions right, the blackbox holder votes the way he/she wishes.

The process would still be handled by politicians or bureaucrats, in terms of collating but they’d no longer be our masters but our servants.

3 comments for “Direct Democracy

  1. WitteringWitney
    August 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    What was it the female usually said during, or at the end of, Bond films? Oh yes: “Oh James……….”

    Methinks you have misconstrued my wish for localism, in that it is not the localism proposed by Carswell & Hannan – something I thought I had made plain. I don’t even want politicians – I want ‘managers’ to administer that which the people want.

    As to the idea of ‘black box’ voting and for the process still be handled by politicians or bureaucrats – really James! The last thing anyone should consider is a system that is open to interference, whether by hackers or the polticians themselves. Where is the oversight of counting votes that we have at present? We must perhaps agree to disagree on your idea?

    I do have an ‘alternative’ to the present system of democracy presently ‘enjoyed’; as will be revealed over at my place, during the coming weeks. You and everyone else will then have the opportunity to tear that to pieces…..

    • August 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Can’t wait. 🙂

      I’ll be interested to see how you address the CP problem with ‘managers’.

  2. monstro
    August 13, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Thats all well and good and I have been thinking along similar lines myself lately, but what needs to be recognised is that at no time should votes or referendums be allowed on issues which may infringe personal freedoms or personal sovereignty.

    As an enlightened people (when we get there!), we would need to accept that any form of voting is still mob rule and as such should be used as sparingly as possible and participation should be restricted to only those directly affected. Thus in the true spirit of localism / direct democracy, the individual would be left alone so long as they interfere with no other. At the next level issues such as on road parking etc would be dealt with at a street or community voting level and greater issues such as immigration at a national level.

    At no point would referendums, debates or votes be held on wether to force F1 back onto the BBC as one e-petition attempts or any other issue which would infringe property rights, personal voluntary transactions, freedom of speech or any other private relationships.

    One further related thought that I have had recently after long calling for a referendum on our EU membership, is that we shouldn’t actually be having a referendum at all, for the simple reason that no democratic procedure of any kind has the right to give away or even question the giving away of our nation or our national sovereignty. No matter how our loud our superiors sound off in the singing of the virtues of democracy (they usually mean the representative kind, that democratically hands them total power to rule as authoritarians if they wish for 5 years!) it is a flawed concept. Admittedly we have nothing better for certain situations, but due to its inherently unjust nature we should use it very sparingly, we should never use it to decide wether one group against the wishes of another can give our national sovereignty away, wether this is through the sham of representative democracy or referendum / direct democracy.

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