Democracy, the people ruling themselves and determining their own future, is a notion that I am sure we would all agree with. It stands in opposition and direct contrast to other forms of governance over the ages like theocracies, monarchies and dictatorships. We are told that we live in a democracy and yet there are many decisions made that stand in contrast to what the majority of people want for themselves politically and the legislation going through our system always seems to come out favoring the wealthy elites. We have representative democracy. The majority of the choices on our constituency ballot paper come from the main parties. Their policy is set by a hierarchy within the party. The party is funded by wealthy individuals who have a shared interest in the aims of the party. The party members are lobbied by business who are trying to impose their aims on government policy. Sometimes MP’s are directly hired by big business while they are in office or after due to the influence that that MP may have on the political process to influence policy in the favour of big business. In this way our current Parliamentarianist political system is failing to deliver democracy to the majority of the population – A combination of a) politicians having party loyalties and being ‘whipped’ into party policy rather than constituency will b) the system of party funding coming from vested interests of the political outcome c) politicians having alternative careers during and after their time in parliament and d) the lobbying system, leaves the constituent barely represented when legislation is drawn up and put through parliament for voting. Our media, being privately owned and politically affiliated, does little to expose this lack of democratic process.
My suggestion is that we collectively push for a system of Direct Democracy, that we, as a nation, vote on a monthly basis on the issues that effect us all. Monthly referendums if you like. During any given month certain TV programs and chat shows can delve into the issue of the month, explore all avenues within that issue, all solutions chipped in by anyone within social media, talk radio, televised panel shows etc. It would require a committee to be set up for each issue so that all elements of the debate can be intellectually explored by specialists over the course of the preceding year and a variety of suggestions put forward to the public by those with a deep knowledge of the subject from a variety of backgrounds and associated interests. The whole debate can be had openly and involving the public. Consensus can be given to the public at intervals to make sure the committee is acting in direction with the ‘will of the people’. Legislation can be drawn up that satisfies the variety of viewpoints so that there is overwhelming support for the final piece of legislation which people vote for or against at the end of the month. Most of this can be achieved right now with the technology we are using right now. We already have debate shows on TV that ask the public to vote. We are using committees currently to investigate certain scandals like phone tapping etc and there are currently very effective committees and commissions providing advice for health, home office and other major government departments. The EU is constructed into committees for the laws that make up 75% of new UK legislation. The committee structure is the intellectual stronghold that will prevent this form of direct democracy from becoming simply ‘mob rule’. It is a structure of collaboration that allows great advances in society and always has and to have the benefits of those advances be distributed across the whole of society and not just those vested interests of our existing wealth and power divide. Committees would need to be structured into having both a part that draws legislation and the part that administers its execution across the nation and for this reason I have dubbed them ‘Management & Action Committees’ or MACs. They would have to be of a particular design made up of a range of specialists, those who safeguard the political process, who crunch the budget and provide the stats., those who keep policy within the constitution, those who gather the public’s consensus and those who provide the public information on the issues and those who police the system as a whole to make sure the structure is not compromised and that policy making is not hijacked by those with a vested interest in the outcome except the general public.
Our current 'first past the post' system is also very inefficient. How much parliamentary time is spent debating whose fault policy outcomes have been? How many times has our taxation been spent during one government office only to be undone by the next party taking over governance after elections? Swing politics has made a real mess of many of our government departments whose aims are often quite simple ie provide as much quality service as you can for as little taxation money spent. The types of service provided by our government departments is for us all, we the people know what we want from our services. The services provided should be guided by our collective social aims. With a committee overseeing legislation there is a) less dictatorial influence from single power hungry cabinet ministers b) less opportunity for corruption of the process by lobbyists and big business directly employing politicians or funding political parties c) there is more chance that legislation will be created to be inclusive of all memebrs of society and not just the supporters of the current government or their vested interests.
The move towards Direct Democracy can come in a number of ways. We could set up these committees with the use of volunteer think tanks and the use of web forums that bring down the costs. These voluntary committees could then draw up legislation for our current parliamentary members (as opposed to some of our current legislation that is drawn up by industry vested interests) to ponder and take on board. This would be a way of showing directly if politicians are truly working on behalf of the interests of its people or not. The other way is for us to vote for local independant MP's who support moving to to a system of Direct Democracy instead of voting for the usual main political parties. A combination of both would be preferable as an independant MP is also more likely to want to adopt the findings of the committees once in parliament.
The next step would be for the people to be given a vote on a monthly basis over whether to adopt the findings of the committees in each of 12 government departments or not. These monthly referendums is the ultimate goal of The Humanist Party to bring about true Direct Democracy to the UK. The overall vision of National Democratic Humanism is to have a UK Constitution & Social Contract in place that we can vote on in on our very first referendum. I have suggested how this may look on this website and this is currently open to popular debate.