The Swiss are the only country in the world governing themselves at the national level using direct democracy. They regularly use referenda and are the sole electorate routinely voting on policy issues at all levels of government. I suggest that it would be a huge improvement for our country to also adopt a form of direct democracy and reform the representative system that we struggle with. This will be especially beneficial for independent groups seeking to ensure localism, accountability and integrity: and it so happens that Elon Musk is also a fan of direct democracy because he believes that it is a less corrupt system than representative democracy.
In comparison, Proportional Representation is just another form of representative democracy and suffers from the same problem as its first-past-the-post sister in the representative democracy family. It gives us more parties but still ensures the election of representatives for 4 or 5-year terms who see little need to seek guidance from their electors throughout that period. What employee do you know who is given 5 years free rein by their management (us)? In addition, MPs are really just party serfs toeing the line drawn by the party whips, so their talk of being our “independent” representatives is just twaddle.
For generations now, the political class has manipulated the masses and feathered their own nests. Their cronies and lobbyists have influenced and steered the system to their benefit, drinking deep from the trough of public funds into which the taxpayers have poured their hard-earned wages. All these scams have been concealed behind the veil of “democracy”, but in a direct democracy the voters can demand openness, clarity and regularly vote on specific policies affecting their families and communities.
Do you think local electors would allow there to be nearly 3,000 local council employees earning over £100,000 a year if they had a direct say on such things? Political accountability is failing us because our representatives are more incentivized to satisfy their party bosses and “backers” than their electorates. The Swiss state is also low-cost because such matters have to pass muster with local voters, and are not just waved through by the party in power in safe seats that they have held for decades.
Independents hacked off with self-interested party narcissists can break this stranglehold by clubbing together with a national umbrella organisation. Together they can promote accountability from the parish level and all the way up to Westminster, working to develop an accountable system of direct democracy at every level. Both groups can combine to elect MPs who have to respond routinely and directly to voters’ wishes – or go. It is time that a new broom swept aside the tired old parties and cleared the way for people actually interested in routinely working for, and with, the people.
Politicians responsive to their voters can demonstrate their commitment to direct democracy by publicising upcoming votes. Those on their electoral roll can then give their feedback to them through various media before the actual vote. With over 10% responding, the representative must vote according to the majority’s choice. This system will bring real accountability to politics in this country for the first time. Voters will feel a sense of buy-in as they regularly see their interests and views truly considered, and they will benefit from a sense of control, ending the sense of alienation from the “system” that is now such a common feature of life in our dissolving communities.
This combination of Like-Minded Independent (LMI) groups, for instance, maybe bearing the name of the ward, town or local place that resonates with voters, working with a national operator can undermine the seemingly impregnable major parties and supporting oligarchs that we battle with today. The past is past but the future is ours to fashion and that must include finding politicians motivated by community, and communities able to routinely enforce their will.
Committed independent local groups such as the Barnsley Independent Group and the Ashfield Independents are already cutting into the network of cronies at the district council level, but to really improve our national life we need to break the Conservative/Labour stranglehold at the national level. When the state-sponsored Covid crisis is over and the deep damage to the economy and the life of the nation is revealed, the old parties are going to face a very different electorate to that which entered lock-down.
We have to make them pay and revive our national life by ending their control over us, and asserting our right to actual self-government and direct democratic rule. The more we can spread the word and expand such initiatives as LMI, the better. This is not a call for a revolution, but representative democracy has had its day in the sun and needs to evolve, to make way for its direct and proven cousin. Join the evolution and take control.