A friend of mine recently said this to me in an email:
> Democracy ain’t pretty, but it’s the best system we’ve tried so far
Our system of Government should be more accurately described as an Elected Dictatorship. It is abundantly clear that the government have taken recent decisions that the citizens of this country didn’t and don’t support and there is nothing that can be done about it, until the next election.
Once your vote is cast, the people lose all say in the running of the country. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if election manifestos were legally binding contracts, but they’re not and the political parties are quite happy to say one thing and then do another when they’re in power.
For all it’s obvious potential weaknesses, I’d like to see real democracy given a try: Invest in some electronic voting technology so that 95+% of the population find voting trivial, e.g. via a website; using Sky Active voting; library voting; phone voting; text voting etc, the technology exists, it just needs bringing together and a security wrapper put in place (not trivial I realise). Then, when there are decisions to be made, ask the people to decide. And yes I do basically mean having a referendum every month.
For example, how much is the London Crosslink going to cost? Let’s pretend it’s £10Bn (look it up if you really care). The use of that money could be simply put to a vote: “What should we spend £10Bn on in London?”
1) London Crosslink – This is the governments recommendation.
2) 3 More Hospitals
3) 10,000 More Police
4) 2,000 More Buses
Obviously the numbers are made up for the purposes of this exercise, more detail should be put behind the choices and there should be some publicity about what each choice means. In fact, if this really is a monthly affair, it should become a regular monthly event: on the last Sunday of each month, there’s a 2 hour “This months Referendum” show on TV or something, discussing the choices.
My point is that this is a real decision that’s gone on in government, yet who amongst the “people” have actually voted on this subject? Who has been asked: What do you think of the London Crosslink? Only the politicians and I certainly don’t remember £10Bn for Crosslink being a decision point at the last election.
We elect people into power based on what they say they will do and then can do nothing about it (short of a revolution) for another 4-5 years. But it’s worse than that. Any one party will have let’s say 100 policies. What if I agree with 60 from party A but 40 from party B? The one vote every 4 years approach to democracy completely fails to tackle that problem.