Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A Promising Silence

Remember these two promises issued in The Coalition: Our Programme For Government (page 29)?
"We will ensure that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for formal debate in Parliament. The petition with the most signatures will enable members of the public to table a bill eligible to be voted on in Parliament."

"We will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue."

Those of us who believe in direct democracy were initially enthused with these two promises, yet that enthusiasm is being blunted somewhat by the fact it would appear some promises are not that as important as others. Oh, they both talk of being passionate about giving people more power over their lives, yet the one aspect of their programme for government which would actively do just that would seem to have been 'kicked into the long grass'.

This 'silence' from the Coalition on giving the people their voice may have something to do with the fact implementation of these two promises will mean some awkward decisions will have to be made by our political elite. For example, a petition calling for a referendum on our membership of the European Union would attract far more than the 100,000 signatures required. On the basis that our elected 'representatives' are supposed to represent the views of their electorate it would be an interesting spectacle to see said representatives deliberately ignoring the wishes of those they are supposed to represent in the ensuing parliamentary debate.

Importantly it is worth noting however that in making these two promises the Coalition have, to a certain extent, hedged their bets. Note the omission of mention of how long a period would be for the submission of petitions, how long a period would be designated in which to gain the required number of signatures. As during the election campaign period neither Cameron or Clegg discussed in any meaningful way - nor were they questioned in any meaningful way - subjects that would be embarrassing for them, so it is suspected that the promise of petitions, when announced and implemented, will have the necessary 'strings attached' to provide the Cleggeron Government sufficient 'wriggle room' to once again 'duck the issue'!

Note: Direct Democracy are running a petition to hasten the introduction of petitions and it can be signed here.

Afterthought: The champions of direct democracy - Hannan & Carswell - seem to have been rather 'voiceless' on this matter of late. Have they too been 'got at'?


Dick Puddlecote said...

Good point re: Hannan and Carswell. 'The Plan' isn't going as described in the book, yet not a whisper.

Witterings From Witney said...

Exactly DP, exactly!

INIREF I&R said...

At national level only weak reform is on the cards, a glorified petition which government must not heed. We campaign for full direct democracy locally and nationally. In 2009 Cameron promised more -- see http://www.iniref.org/conlibdem.html
Basic proposal

Anonymous said...

Really, you are not still of a mind that accepts all this nonsense? Not since the eleventh century have we had a real democracy. The politicians destroyed that even before it was even borne.

Now, after seven hundred years the politicians have refined and redefined democracy to fit their own agenda whilst we, the morons, have progressively let them get away with it.

You don't have a local representative who might look after your interests; not that is unless you have elected an independent. Your local MP (wherever you live)was selected by a local party committee and is beholden to that committee and his party for their support in order to retain his position.

This has nothing to do with you and you have no sanction at all should he fail to heed your wishes.

The fact is that in order to be more transparent in the way our system operates we should be required to vote for a party leader, no more and no less. He then should be at liberty to allocate seats in the House of Commons to whomever he wishes reletive to the percentage of votes he captured in the election.

Is this not what happens now except not in that order?

You should know now after 13 years of Brown and Blair that these promises are made to gain your vote for their party, nothing more. They have no intention or indeed reason to keep the promises.

And now they want to change the voting system. Well,I should consider their intentions very carefully because whatever their motive it will certainly not be to enpower you.