Democratic deficit – and ‘Harrogate’

In a way this post is linked to the recent event held at Harrogate, in that the posts to which I link are all related to the heading to this post, which is what Harrogate was all about. In passing and for the avoidance of doubt it had not been my intention to comment on Harrogate until such time as Richard North has done so, however now that he has I can incorporate into my post, ‘events Harrogate’.

First though, let us consider articles by the following that have appeared in the Saturday and Sunday editions of the Telegraph: 1 - Janet Daley - 2. Liam Fox - 3. Iain Martin - 4. Matthew d’Ancona – 5. Charles Moore. Five articles which all contain either something that was obvious to anyone outside the ‘political bubble’; or something intended to ‘mislead’ us, or throw us off the scent; or finally, is pure bull – or,actually, all three.

Janet Daley has, it would appear, suddenly come to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy by the political class against the electorate; that the Coalition was formed not in the interests of ‘The Country’ but in the interests of two political parties; one of whom could not face ruling us as a minority government and the other who saw a way in which to gain power even though they had been resoundingly defeated at the polls. Daley continues, maintaining that the public do not like to see political conflict and that in so doing they fail to understand that differences of opinion between political parties is the basis of democracy. Liam Fox is of the opinion that government doesn’t just happen, that it needs to be driven. Iain Martin is of the opinion that what is wanted is a Tory leader with Tory values, quoting Norman Tebbit who believes that Cameron does not much like Conservatives. He cites the ‘rebellion’ by Tory backbenchers over Lords reform as a resentment over the trashing of a British institution. Matthew d’Ancona, in what is another puerile piece of journalism, believes that rule one of maintenance of the Coalition should be to remember Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford – a divorce that took place in 1995 and about which those of us more concerned with matters political than celebrity tittle-tattle did not bother to read. Charles Moore (who knows what Charles Moore believes – but I digress) writes that if leaders are motivated by fear, they are unable to inspire confidence.

In attempting to analyze the ills that befall our political system and politicians, not one of these ‘enlightened’ commentators has thought to mention the real problem that exists today in our present system of representative democracy – there is no separation of Executive and Legislature. Not one of them appears to realize that what is needed is a Codified Constitution, one that cannot be changed by the political class without the agreement of the people.

Janet Daley may well bemoan the fact that the public are unable to accept political conflict, but fails to take her argument to the next level by suggesting that were the political class listening to the people and implementing that which the people wanted, there would be no political conflict. Neither does she appear to realize that political conflict is but the means by which one party attempts to impose its ideology on the masses – in other words to dictate.

Liam Fox, in his assertion,that “governments must be driven” is also, by association, party to the belief that ‘government’ must dictate – yet where does the word ‘dictate’ appear in any definition of ‘democracy’?

Iain Martin may well report that Tory dissenters to Lords reform consider it an attack on a British institution – but fails to point out that EU involvement in the governance of this country is also an attack on a British institution, namely that of the belief in self-government – and that Tory dissenters appear to be ignoring that point.

Matthew d’Ancona criticizes Cameron because he doesn’t believe there is a group within the Tory party to ‘twist arms’; to ‘brief’ the media – in other words d’Ancona is content for political parties to rule as a dictatorship, ‘forming’ public opinion, moulding minds.

Charles Moore writes that leaders do not inspire confidence if they are motivated by fear, but fails to mention the more important ill that bests our nation: namely that leadership should not bring privileges but duties.

Another important point, when considering democracy per se, is that not one of these enlightened ‘commentators’ seems to comment on the contradictions of our political class, where their actions are concerned. For example, the political class loudly proclaim the freedom of the individual, yet appear to spend an inordinate amount of time restricting that freedom. Not one of these ‘media experts’ appears to realize that the more ‘organization’ from above,the more constraints imposed on people, the less chance for any attempt at demonstrating initiative. Is it not by people showing initiative that nations become more prosperous and that communities ‘come together’?

To turn to ‘matters Harrogate’ and the inability of the attendees at that meeting to formulate 6 ‘demands’, that failure – and it is but a personal observation – is that the majority of attendees came with ‘personal baggage’, aspects of the deficit in our democracy that they felt important; and in so doing became too involved in their discussions with  the ‘detail’ of how their ‘pet aversions’ could be solved, instead of attempting to focus on the main problems. That aspect is illustrated by Richard North’s comment that: “Furthermore, although some great points were raised, not all got to the heart of the issue. Not all precisely fingered the areas where transfer of powers, the restructuring, and improvement might have best effect”. While most syndicates wanted, for example, separation of Executive from Legislature and a codified constitution, it seemed to me that not all were able to justify either requirement or truly understood the need for each. None had given thought to, when the ‘demands’ were made known, the obvious question that the public would then ask: why are those demands important to me?

More importantly, while it was felt that ‘democracy’ as presently practiced was ‘found wanting’ and acknowledging that democracy was and should be based on ‘people power’, the majority failed to investigate exactly how ‘people power’ could be achieved – in other words what system of democracy  would provide that one basic requirement. A few of the attendees did realize and raised what is a basic point, unfortunately their voices were not heard. Had those raising this point been heard, it may well have produced a consensus for a basis of demands, or at least 3/4 of the desired 6. 

I would close with a question to all attendees at Harrogate. If it is accepted that people power is an important and necessary factor in any democracy, then is not the ‘legislature’ the people? If we are proposing that a separation of the executive from the legislature of the political class is necessary, are we not suggesting that we are content to subsume ourselves to a political elite and thus remain content to remain ‘ruled’? Either we have ‘people power’, or we do not. How can we discuss a codified constitution until we have decided whether ‘people power’ is, or is not, to be the basis of said constitution?

As is my usual wont, just asking……….

 

 

 


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54 Responses

  1. Btw having asked Mrs TBF regarding all matters gossip, she being the expert – the marriage was apparently a sham to cover up both of their homosexuality – that was probably Matthew d’Ancona’s point – don’t pretend it’s a fake. Not that it detracts from your wider point of celebrity tittle-tattle in a political post

    P.S. And they were divorced in 1995, not 2001 etc

    • david says:

      Date amended TBF – Re d’Ancona: whatever. For those of us who don’t follow the celebrity chat his metaphor is wasted.

  2. graham wood says:

    “For the fifth labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean up King Augeas’ stables. Hercules knew this job would mean getting dirty and smelly, but sometimes even a hero has to do these things. Then Eurystheus made Hercules’ task even harder: he had to clean up after the cattle of Augeas in a single day.”

    I read the Janet Daly article and she makes a lot of sense. In fact the title itself expresses something of the heart of the problem within of the Coalition – “A political truce finally exposed as a conspiracy”. That for me sums it up, namely the cosy consensus in order to stay in power for the ‘rump’ of both parties. She is correct, that the Coalition was not really the will of the people who remain as confused and undecided as ever as to what they want, and what the country really needs.

    The real problem is a vacuum in political leadership, and maybe we have now come to the end of real representative democracy due to the very existence and entrenchment of the party system which it contradicts. That, aligned with big and intrusive government by ideological compulsion , and of course the ever present dictatorship of the EUSSR completes the virtual destruction of real democracy in the UK.
    Maybe Harrogate will, tentatively point the way forward, but first
    only the entire elimination of this poisonous and corrosive party political system is vital, so that the process of replacement in the form of some outworking of the 6 points and a real ‘back to basics’ can begin.

    Our “stables” require a total Augean clear out, and the beginning of that process is a committment NEVER to vote again for any of the present political parties. Let them wither on the vine, and dare to face the consequences so that a new chapter in British politics can emerge.

  3. Andy Baxter says:

    Graham, I too have felt for a long time the way you do re MP’s and political parties but I feel I have been reasoned out of trying to control them now after listening to some on Saturday, I don’t think now you could ever legislate enough or appeal to altruism and noble intent because human nature where power or the potential to exercise power is concerned is malignant and corrosive.

    instead let them pursue whatever agendas they feel they want to but lets not allow them to be centrally funded by tax payers and lets take away their ability if they gain office to be part of both the legislative and the executive at the same time.

    which leads on to the question posed; ‘people power’

    WfW I don’t share what comes across as pessimism in your piece; yes there was alot of ‘agenda’s’ there on Saturday and it was frustrating to some degree at the level of minutiae that came out.

    the MSM and Westminster bubble to my mind is frankly irrelevant; as I said to RN on saturday our language and message is ours to promote and convince; how we do it and the way in which we do it is I think a very important part of the success we want; I don’t like the word “demand” thats just my opinion because its a power word and as I pointed out if you look at all the great leaders of movements Jesus, Ghandi, Wilbeforce et al people who effected amazing change in peoples lives and how they conveyed their message none of them used the language of power in an overt demanding sense, yes it was about power and the exercise of such but they used language and behaviour that simply had the message ‘were doing this and going where we want to and we don’t care about what you (TPTB) think or what you do, it matters not, you can come along if you want to but if you don’t it matters not for this is going to happen’

    we have to get at as RN said at the heart of what its all about POWER. we cannot come across as one set of power brokers/exercisers replacing another set and I don’t believe we will in truth.

    as I said when I introduced myself and stated my principle we need to get a constitution that is written rigid and supreme to the clearly defined seperation of powers then I believe all else will follow.

    your talk constitution web site was a great start and I was going to link to a response I wrote under scepticalman re using an American style constituion question posed, I was going to link below but its temporarily down sadly but can reproduce my comments re our constitution if anyone is interested?

    how we get what we want ‘people power’ is an Augean stable task to paraphrase Graham and Greek mythology. BUT NO I came away both with a sense of frustration in some ways as I’m a little impatient and there were some (a minority I thought) who frankly didn’t I feel understand what we are trying to achieve but also optimism from finding likeminded people full of energy and vim to sort this mess out.

    We don’t need a Hercules we need ‘many hands make light work’ cliched I know but true BUT we also and I believe this strongly leadership (collective so its not seen as someones personal hobbyhorse) to keep us on track

    I feel enthused and optimistic about what was at Harrogate on Saturday(and if were into cliches now!) yes ‘a small step for us, but a giant leap for the people of Britain’

    just saying! lol

    • david says:

      I will if Graham and Andy do not mind, respond to both in one.

      It was not pessimism that I wished to convey, but frustration – like Andy I am one of limited patience.

      I find it annoying that what people had realized virtually from day one, Daley has only just written about – so where has her mind been then?

      Andy’s point about the word ‘demand’ is well made and the point taken, however when it comes down to it, we are ‘demanding’ a change to our democracy.

      This brings forward another point and that is as I tried to say the question has to be faced what type of democracy do we want? If we are to loan power to politicians then we must have an effective method of reclaiming that power – which brings me to referenda and referism.

      On Graham’s point about political parties, fine let them hang a label round their neck – it matters not because at the end of the day it is the people that should decide our country’s future. The more anyone looks at people power, the more the case for a form of direct democracy makes sense.

  4. Andy Baxter says:

    apologies David misread it, yes a certain degree of frustration I concur with.

    good question and no doubt we will get to explore re the ‘type’ of democracy we want. I don’t think we will ever achieve perfection because we are people with flaws and prejudices as well as noble and honest intentions. however for me if we can secure something that cannot be hijacked, abused or ignored that establishes and cements ‘people power’ at the heart of what we are trying to achieve then I think that could be a historic achievement.

    look forward to additional meets and forum discussion on EUref and on blogs like this

    regards

  5. Anoneumouse says:

    David are we really “demanding’ a change to our democracy” or are we claiming that it is ‘our right’ to be governed democratically according to the formal rules as set out by the people?

    “The Rights of the people had been confirmed by early Kings both before and after the Norman line began. Accordingly, the people have always had the same title to their liberties and properties that England’s Kings have unto their Crowns. The several Charters of the people’s rights, most particularly Magna Carta, were not grants from the King, but recognition’s by the King of rights that have been reserved or that appertained unto us by common law and immemorial custom.”

    (Sir Robert Howard, a member of the Committee’s which drafted the Bill of Rights).

    • david says:

      Fair comment and one that it is worth my repeating in a future post where criticism of the word ‘demand’ is concerned.

      • The semantics around Demand and reclaim is an interesting one. You may work to reclaim the rights of free men and women in this country. There may however come a point where this reclamation may have a more confrontational nature to it. At this point it will have to be decided if you are in fact demanding it or not.

        I’m not talking about violence here before anyone gets the wrong idea, but more a clash of wills where the new vision meets the politicos intent to maintain their feathered nest.

        • Anoneumouse says:

          “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves”. (Winston Churchill)

        • david says:

          Fair comment, RB.

  6. graham wood says:

    Andy. “I feel enthused and optimistic about what was at Harrogate on Saturday(and if were into cliches now!) yes ‘a small step for us, but a giant leap for the people of Britain’

    I was not able to make Harrogate, though it is local to me, so I missed the important discussion that took place. So, by no means do I despise the day of small things, and believe that Harrogate itself will be indeed a ‘giant leap’ if objectives and can be clarified and defined more, and then translated into a grass roots movement.
    It will be a very long haul if only for the reason that we know that the present claque will not give up power, UNLESS IT IS WRESTED FROM THEM. As Dr N sid it is all about power, and always has been.

    Much will be re-thought and said as a result of the meeting in the coming months about the best way forward.
    David. I take the point about Daley, but better her seeing the ‘light’ now rather than not at all! It may be that we are seeing the actual demise of the current political parties even now, via death by a thousand cuts – namely lower and lower turnouts at GE’s and deep disillusionment with them on the part of the public.
    Thus the very fact that DC was forced into a Coalition is part of the process of dismantlement.
    But I think we would agree that the political vacuum I referred to can also be a dangerous time in that it can give rise to ‘extremist/Fascist political movements by disenchanted rabble-rousers.

    As the English (British?) are basically conservative (small c) and do not on the whole like revolutions and the abolition of familiar landmarks (such as Westminster Parliament) then that makes the task of reformers that bit harder.
    Persuasion and bit by bit is surely part of the answer. Thus it would be good if all fire power was concentrated on gaining ONE winnable objective of Harrogate – say for a start, pressing hard for Referism.. That would then possibly prove to be a beachhead for the next step. All a bit theoretical at this stage I know – lets see what comes out of forthcoming discussion on both blogs.
    What better curb on big government and its outrageous profligacy, as well as calling a halt to payments of British taxpayer’s money to the EU, than Referism? Would you agree that perhaps that is a necessary first step and alone is well worth battling for?

    • david says:

      Graham, unfortunately referism and representative democracy do not ‘mix’, although Ukip believes it does if you read what passes for their manifesto.

  7. letmethink says:

    I was also at Harrogate on Saturday and I was also frustrated but maybe for slightly different reasons.

    Janet Daley has just started arriving at some of the conclusions that all attendees at Harrogate have regarded as blindingly obvious for years. She is way behind the curve but if you put her in amongst the 60 million people in this country she would probably sit comfortably within the top .0001% in terms of her knowledge.

    And yet.

    Even the 30 people at Harrogate who more or less fully understand the issues and sort of have a reasonable grasp of things that need to be done could not reach any sort of agreement without serious ‘leadership’ from Dr. North.

    This is not a criticism of the 30 attendees who to a man (and lady) I extend my warmest admiration for taking the time and trouble to try to make a difference. I just get frustrated by the lack of understanding about how difficult this will be to not only persuade the great and the good of the need for change (they have the levers of power and turkeys really do not vote for Christmas) but also to take the wider population with us.

    How do you convince 10 million big brother watchers that we need a separation of powers?

    I also don’t think ‘people power’ has much to inspire people nor is it something that I particularly want. I don’t want ‘power’ over someone else’s life unless they threaten my life or property (in the widest sense). I just want power over my own life which requires individual freedom and liberty. No more no less.

    I have worked in business for many years and one thing that is consistently true is that whatever I create in the furtherance of my employment (physical or electronic artefact or communication) is owned not by me but by the people who pay my wages.

    Along with many people, I pay for central government, all state departments, local government, the monarchy, parliament, quangos and other NGOs, state schools, assemblies, the entire EU system, regulators, the national health service, the armed forces, etc., etc.

    As paymaster for those employed in my service, I see no reason why I should not have full knowledge of every artefact and communication created as part of their work and how they have gathered (or intend to gather)and spent (or intend to spend) my money.

    So personal liberty and full access to public information are large scale principles which could reasonably form a vision that most people could understand and agree with and that those who ‘rule’ us would find difficult to argue against.

    All other ‘demands’ could potentially be constructed to build upon and work towards these two simple overarching principles

    just my thoughts . . .

  8. DP111 says:

    Separation of powers? Why so? In a system with Direct Democracy, why create a pillar or pillars that have equal authority to the people?

    • david says:

      Ah, if we had Direct Democracy then no, there would be no separation of power necessary. The problem I have is to get everyone to accept that which they know little about and do not wish to know anything about, it would seem.

  9. Stuart says:

    Representative democracy is perfect as long as human beings are the same. The Legislature should be “of the people” as should the Executive. But we all know that we can never achieve what we want when someone else acts on our behalf. Simple mistakes due to communication are the least onerous cases. When your agent acts deliberately against your best interests and conceals this fact is the worst case. That is the territory we are in and the only issue the Harrogate Agenda has to accomplish. To make our representatives act in our interests rather than their own or their best buddies in large corporations or the political classes of Europe if not the world. The political class believe we are a democracy because we vote once every five years. This did not stop them from picking our pockets or transferring power offshore. These are the things we need to prevent, to gain more power over our representatives and what the Harrogate Agenda must deliver.

    • david says:

      I’m trying Stuart, believe me……..

      What is referism if not direct democracy? What is devolution of power if not direct democracy? What is people power if not direct democracy?

      Head and brickwall springs to mind………

  10. blingmun says:

    Imagine if MPs being asked to vote for war in Iraq War or for the Lisbon Treaty were subject to Power of Recall. The whips would give them the usual threats and inducements and verbal intimidation. But the humble MP would just reply, “If I vote for this bill there’ll be a petition for a by-election by the morning and I’ll be slung out of this House within two months”.

    The House of Commons would be subject to people power in a whole new way. It would also at a stroke become a highly effective legislature.

    • and this Blingmun is something I wonder about. I think however that overall those that want to see a change are at the start of something that could take a very long time. The recall could be one of those steps.

      However I have been wondering if there is an interim stage that is so similar to the power of recall that it has a similar affect on the relationship between the MP, the Whip and the constituency.

      It is my belief that the first stage may well be a local voting bloc for a constituency that generates a local power base to wield influence over the MP or prospective candidates, similar to that of the US Tea Party. A movement that brings awareness of what a local MP has done to the people who vote for them and in what way that has affected their everyday lives. Communicated properly in a way the populus understands, there will be no bluster or semantics that the MP plays with that would permit them to wriggle off the hook if they had roundly shafted their constituents for their own personal gain.

      The MPs first thought is for their place at the trough, the power to take that away is more powerful than we realise. Whilst the electorate might not be able to instigate a recall the following day, they will know that come the next election it could be over for them. This in turn might send a message to any prospective candidate looking to replace them to be aware of the power of the local electorate.

      • david says:

        Nice idea RB, but I want virtual instant retribution, not have to wait for 5 years…….

    • david says:

      That may be so, but it will still remain a costly, self-centred place and that must change.

      Apols this response has slipped out of place and is in reply to Blingmun

  11. Vanessa says:

    A very good piece, thank you. As I am complete novice I am not sure I know what “true” democracy is. People in government need to be able to make decisions on events which I have no undertsnding of. I am reading The Great Deception at the moment and the history of the EU is terrifying. What seems to have been thought of as a good way to stop wars in the 1920s (without any thought of what the people think) became a corrupt and shop-window for the egos of those who set it up.
    Even the American Constitution which seems to be the strongest and best adhered to is being watered down by Obama.
    I am not sure what I think any longer!

    • kevin kearney says:

      Some good points Vanessa, we need more “thoughts from a novice”. Good look to WFW, Richard North and all who have taken part. “Separation of Powers” is a good starting point. Very few in the House of Commons represent the people, they represent themselves only and are looking out for a Ministerial career. In the current system Ministerial pay should be only £10 over and above an MP’s pay.

    • david says:

      Hopefully Vanessa, by reading Richard North, myself and others including comments here you will quickly become ‘educated’…….

  12. Peter S says:

    Here’s a simple idea:

    The Rolling Recast.

    At a general election, the voter keeps a tear-off portion of the ballot paper. Both the main ballot paper and the tear-off slip have the same numerical code printed on it (but only the ballot paper is marked with the vote).

    After the election, all ballot papers are retained and each constituency makes database of the numerical codes recorded against the vote cast for each one (eg: TA496290 – Con)

    At any time during the subsequent parliamentary term, a voter is entitled to recast his/her vote – by presenting the retained slip (at the town hall or by post). This can be done by proxy – if the voter wishes to retain anonymity.

    Once the slip is authenticated, a fresh ballot paper is issued (with the same numerical code) – and the vote is recast.

    At specified times (eg: monthly or quarterly), the recast votes are cross-referenced with their numerical codes on the database – the old vote is cancelled and the new vote added to the totals recorded.

    If at any time during the parliamentary term a representative loses the majority in the constituency he/she represents it automatically triggers a by-election.

    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    At any time during the term of parliament a new party/independent can register to be included on the list a recasting voter can choose from.

    It may be wise to limit the act of recasting a vote to one, per voter, per term.

    The database (with numerical codes) and totals could be made publicly available – online – for inspection.

  13. graham wood says:

    Peter. On the face of it that seems a brilliant idea and gives real power of recall to the voter. In addition it would inhibit the MP in several respects from straying far from manifesto promises, and make him aware for the first time that his future “career” would be largely in his constituents hands! Great stuff – there must be a flaw in it somewhere but I have not spotted one. I see no reason why it could not be implemented – exept of course that our political ‘masters’ would strangle it before birth.
    One question and if I have understood your last point aright, would not a public database invalidate the secret ballot? i.e. TA496290 – Con?
    Also, why do you think it should be publicly available?

  14. Peter S says:

    graham – No. There is no time in which the numerical code on a ballot paper is connected with the identity of the voter holding it. The only time a voter’s identity may be traceable to his/her vote is when the claim to recast is made. But if that is done by proxy (ie, if the voter send a friend/co-worker to the town hall with his tear-off slip) then it is kept secret.

  15. Peter S says:

    graham – “would not a public database invalidate the secret ballot? i.e. TA496290 – Con?”

    No – because the only person in the world knowing the identity of the voter using ballot paper no.TA496290 is the voter. Only the slip would be necessary to recast a vote – no proof of identity would be required – so whoever is presenting the slip is unknown to the town hall.

    “Also, why do you think it should be publicly available?”
    The online database would simply be for a voter to ensure his secret vote (cast or recast) had been property recorded. Such a website would show pages, each with a block of (say) 1000 codes/votes – so the viewer would be not need to enter his specific code (and risk his secrecy).

  16. david says:

    I will let the conversation twixt Peter S and Graham Wood go further prior to my responding.

  17. graham wood says:

    Peter. Thanks and points taken. except one. Sorry if I seem exceptionally dense on this – but are you saying that the suffix – Con or – Lab would not be visible on the database?

  18. Peter S says:

    graham – yes the database would show: ‘TA496290 – Con’. But no one in the world would know who ‘TA496290′ was (except the voter who happened to pick up that ballot paper).

  19. Peter S says:

    Variations on the above:

    It might be more beneficial (and simpler) to limit the Right to Recast to only those votes cast for the winning candidate. This would stop tactical recasting by supporters of failed candidates to unseat a representative with a slim majority (eg: LibDem voters recasting for Lab to bring down a Con representative). At the same time, it would reduce the work required to form the database – as only the votes cast for the representative would be entered.

    The result of this on recasting would be:
    1) votes for the representative can only ever be reduced (not increased)
    2) votes for the failed parties can only ever be increased by those recast away from the victor (not from each other).

    As the representative only truly represents the views of those who actually voted him into power (the others having already voted to reject those views), it seems correct that only those voters have the right to recast their vote at a future time.

    A recast ballot paper would also have the option of ‘No One’ whereby the vote is simply struck off to totals and not transferred to another party.

  20. John Page says:

    Your picture of Harrogate seems less rosy than Richard’s – will be interested to see how the discussion develops.

  21. Peter S says:

    If a full Rolling Recast is viable (with ALL voters having the right at ANY time) – could it not replace elections altogether? A representative would simply carry on until he loses his majority through recast votes – at which point he is replaced by whoever has the majority. This would perhaps require something like a six-month period of grace during which the new representative can get established.

  22. Peter S says:

    If we look at the relationship between representative and constituency we can see that it is flawed.

    Like all relationships, this one requires a ‘space in between’ both parties where exchanges are made (we can think of this like a shop counter). In this instance, the candidate places promised commitments (usually in manifesto form) into the space for the elector to pick up and examine. If these satisfy the elector, he will, in return, place his (or her) vote – for the candidate to collect and use.

    The flaw in this relationship is that, having collecting enough votes, the candidate becomes the representative and closes down the space in between himself and his electorate. The relationship is effectively ended the electorate is powerless open it again.

    Of course, having terminated this space in between, the representative can go on to completely ignore the promises he placed there in exchange for the vote – knowing its absence completely insulates him from being held to account.

    The beauty of the Rolling Recastable Vote is that is keeps the space in between the elector and the representative open for the duration of the parliamentary term. That is to say, the elector can at any time take his vote back if he feels the promised exchange has not been honoured (or if the representative has clearly not tried to honour it). At the same time it would place the burden on the representative to provide an ongoing demonstration to the elector that he is keeping to his word.

    If representatives have previously depended upon this relationship ending – post election – for their impunity (and if that is the very cause of their being so widely despised), then the RRV will deny them that rogue’s luxury.

    I wondered yesterday about limiting the RRV to votes for the successful candidate only – so as to lessen any subsequent tactical voting in constituencies with a slim majority. But giving any voter to right to recast their vote would, in effect, introduce an element of ‘second preference’ choice into a constituency. And that may be a good thing.

    • david says:

      A ‘neat’ idea, indeed however:

      It is worth bearing in mind that people power, devolution of power are but pillars of direct democracy and under direct democracy so is the principle of ‘referism’ and recall of an MP.

      I am at a loss to understand why those in favour of the foregoing seem to be agin direct democracy. RRV in effect already exists under direct democracy and both would involve an election of one form or another?

      If I have misunderstood RRV, then my apologies.

      • Peter S says:

        David – I suggest it only because it seems to be a very simple, yet potentially highly effective, adjustment to the current system we have. From an electorate’s point of view, they would find they are able to pop into the town hall on a visit to Tesco and register their dissatisfaction with their sitting MP – and that if enough people felt the same way, they could make a very real change.

        I wonder how RRV might have affected the political landscape when Blair took Britain into a war with Iraq – and how much more effective it might have been than an afternoon’s mass demonstration.

        I’m not convinced by referenda. People usually vote out of rage, a time-consuming consideration of the arguments or with an indifference to them – so this would possibly make the results rather obscure.

        • david says:

          Don’t misunderstand, I do not dismiss the idea and in any case I have no right so to do.

          Question though, if referenda in your opinion can cause people to vote in rage or at the whim of a feeling at a particular time, then is not RRV open to the same accusation?

          At least with referenda the debate is over a given period and that provides the opportunity for people to think, mull the question over,check out claims being made and possibly even changing their minds.

          I am a great advocate of direct democracy and I find that when explained to people fully the number that agree with the general principles, or pillars, of the system increases dramatically.

  23. Robin says:

    Are the words Populist and Populism seen in a positive or negative light ?

  24. Robin says:

    In what light do you (and the others ) see the above ?

  25. Peter S says:

    That’s a good question.

    RRV would be open to those the recast their vote out of rage or on a whim. I would like to think a constituency majority could withstand this and only be placed in danger when a larger number of people considered their representative to be failing to deliver what had been promised.

    As for referenda – I don’t like them for the same reason I don’t like killing my own chickens for dinner or recycling my own toilet rolls. There are people I employ (indirectly) who are far more knowledgable about chicken anatomy or paper technology than I have the inclination to be – and some of them deliver products which meet with my tastes. If they cease to do so, it’s time to find another supplier – rather than attempt DIY.

    • Peter S says:

      That’s a reply to David July 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    • Robin says:

      If you dont feel best qualified to take part in a referendum why dont you just accept the decisions of those who do , and vote , in them ?

      • david says:

        Err, when did I say I wouldn’t?

      • Peter S says:

        Wouldn’t that be the same as representative democracy?

        • david says:

          Either you have done what I did and replied to the wrong thread or I am lost………

        • Peter S says:

          david: July 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm

          Robin wondered why anyone who felt unable to digest all the information required to cast an informed vote in a referendum should not just take the lead of someone who appeared to be informed and vote accordingly. I wondered if this was really any different to a representative democracy.

          • david says:

            Ah, understand now. The beauty, if I can use that word, is that direct democracy educates by the way it works. Might I suggest you take a look at the post I have just done?

            See you in the morning…….

    • david says:

      Damn, comment gone out of sync – again. The following in response to Peter S.

      And I would like to think that a constituency or the nation would withstand calling unnecessary referenda.

      As central government would only be responsible for about 5/6 matters and they would be, for example foreign affairs, defence, currency, transport, immigration the ‘techie’ stuff would be done for you – but you would still have the ability to call a halt or query anything you did not like.

      I am amazed at the number of people who sit back, complain about this and that – and do nothing. Some time ago a friend of mine, IPJ, posed a question which was name 6 things in your life that are not in some way affected by the state – and he is still waiting for an answer!

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