Success for our Campaign: Government backs Citizens’ Initiative and Referendum

July 28, 2010

For over ten years our Campaign for Citizens’ Initiative and Referendum in Britain has worked to promote genuine direct democracy. So we welcome the inclusion of our major proposals in the coalition agreement of the new Conservative and Liberal-Democrat government.

In short:
The Government backs our proposals for Initiative, Citizens’ Referendum and Recall (sacking) of Members of Parliament!

Three items from the coalition paper:

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

We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.

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.
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Campaign work must continue!

The realisation of these coalition proposals would bring considerable improvement to public participation in government. This reform could become a quiet revolution, a move from “steered” democracy to one with practicable, pro-active and veto rights for everyone, in a living, everyday democracy at local and national levels.

In order to ensure that these promises are fulfilled our Campaign will continue. There is a long way to go before legislators in parliament formally introduce genuine citizen-led democracy. Broad public demand for progress on this must become loudly audible. Our Campaign will:
— inform
— educate
— advocate
— lobby
— publish
— research

All of these activities depend on real people doing hard work with professional skill and original flair.

The Campaign for Citizens’ Initiative and Referendum in Britain needs helpers and support, see
http://www.iniref.org/crew.html volunteer
http://www.iniref.org/action.html support
http://www.iniref.org index
Independent of any political party
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Electoral system referendum announced

July 5, 2010

The Con/LibDem government has announced that a bill about the electoral system will be submitted to parliament proposing a referendum on May 5, 2011, on whether to keep “first-past-the-post” or switch to another system known as the Alternative Vote (AV).

Why must we be satisfied with the offer (see below*), made first by a desperate Labour party last year, of such a bad “reform” of the electoral system, “alternative vote”? New Zealand in the 1990s showed us a democratic way to go from first-past-the-post to a fairer and party-proportional system. In 1992 the people of New Zealand were asked (a) if they want a change then (b) which of four electoral systems they would prefer! The systems considered were: Mixed Member Proportional, Supplementary Member, Single Transferable Vote, or Preferential Voting. For descriptions of these consult the Electoral Reform Society or the London School of Economics Guide.

The Conservative/LibDem coalition’s plans are not chiselled in stone. With an effective campaign one or more alternatives to AV and FPTP could be pushed into the public debate and so widen eventual choice.

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* See some comments:
Cameron Clear as Mud on AV. WSJ Blogs Iain Martin On Politics July 5, 2010

Nick Clegg July 2010 “Surely when dissatisfaction with politics is so great, one of our first acts must be to give people their own say over something as fundamental as how they elect their MPs.”

Freedom, fairness, responsibility. And democracy?

June 15, 2010

I&R ~ GB comments on:

Conservative-LibDems agreement 2010. The Coalition: our programme for government. Freedom, fairness, responsibility. May be downloaded from direct.gov

How about the promised shift of “power to the people”? Unconvincing. The authors of this coalition plan offer policy and democracy “for the people” but shy away from introducing effective civil participation. More

In the table (see article) we comment on and assess the national (Westminster) petition, local democracy, the tax veto, the MP (sacking) recall, how we elect our MPs, constituency boundaries and number of constituencies, local councils and a possible referendum about the European Union.

Contents
– Coalition democracy table
– Further coalition plans related to democracy
– Press articles about The Coalition plans
– Footnote: David Cameron recorded in Autumn 2009 saying that he would introduce citizen-initiated referendum both at local and national levels.

FULL ARTICLE

Thanks for voting us in now Keep Quiet

May 16, 2010

Another  general election (2010), for we citizens the only chance to
influence — our own — public business, has come and gone.  Voters,
collectively, have again given “carte blanche” (unlimited power) to a
small bunch of politicians and their friends, to rule the “multi-trillion
concern” and human population of our countries for — probably — some
years. Then you may be allowed to vote again. In the period between you
will have no say in public affairs, even if events bring new challenges
and if politicians “forget” their promises and manifestos of ideals and
policies.

We citizens have NO SAY because we continue to accept a system of  INDIRECT democracy. This means that we elect people who behave like lord-aristocrats, with near-absolute power in the times between elections,  with power largely unchecked and policy unbalanced by sensitive feed-back and effective control.

THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THIS ELECTIVE DICTATORSHIP:

CITIZEN-LED democracy which gives us the following powers:

How it works.
1) A BRAKE on runaway government. With the optional veto-referendum a parliamentary bill or recently passed law can be referred to the people. Say, half a million endorsements (signatures) collected with a few
months can trigger a veto referendum.

2) INPUT BY THE OWNERS The citizens’ law proposal (initiative) allows  ideas which have gathered huge support to go onto the public agenda for debate. Parliament is obliged to debate these proposals. If rejected,  the proposal goes to binding referendum of the whole electorate.  Regulations for “the citizens’ initiative” are set to avoid overwhelming  the system with proposals. This sort of democracy generates much public  debate and encourages people to become involved.

3) SACK BAD MPs The “Recall” procedures is a citizens’ initiative within  a constituency. If an agreed large number of voters call for an MP to go, a ballot must be held to decide her/his fate. If the Recall succeeds  a by-election must be held. (As a reaction to public anger about the MP  expenses scandal the political parties now offer to introduce “recall”.  Beware that they may introduce only a watered-down and toothless  procedure!)

More detail about these “DEMOCRACY APPS” may be found in www, see

http://www.iniref.org/index.enter.html

I&R ~ GB Citizens’ Initiative and Referendum
Campaign for direct democracy in Britain

Representation of the people or democracy circus?

April 26, 2010

Shading our eyes against the dazzle of the televised “elephant debates” (party leaders arguing live – in other countries these shows are no longer taken seriously), we may deduce the poverty of our democratic culture and discern the cynicism and brazened deceptiveness of the political class.

These tv spectaculars are part of a periodic circus designed to convince us that by voting for “our” party you will be represented on most if not all major public issues of government. Such representation over the four or five year life of a parliament is as impossible as it is fraudulent.

Simply by improving the electoral system by which we select candidates and parties – whether with alternative vote, single transferable vote or another, cannot more than marginally correct our deep and dangerous democratic deficit! That is, all this talk of “PR”, proportional representation and related, would alter only INDIRECT democracy.

Both with PR etc. and with the current electoral system (“first past the post”) you may vote for candidates and political parties ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS after which you have NO SAY AT ALL in public policy or in managing (your own) public affairs.

We say, THE ELECTORATE should (a) be enabled to veto unwanted government policy and (b) obtain the right to put forward proposals public and parliamentary debate. If necessary a large,  agreed number of voters should be able to bring a proposal to referendum of the whole electorate, even if the government of the day does not want a referendum.

How to enact these straightforward but vital reforms? See:
http://www.iniref.org/steps.html Basic presentation
http://www.iniref.org/case.html The case for more democracy
http://www.iniref.org/carta.htm Election campaign call
http://www.iniref.org/index.enter.html Web site index

Democracy deficit cannot be cured by electoral reform!

April 21, 2010

Let’s be clear, changing the electoral system, just the method we use to vote for candidates, will do little to give “we the people” more influence over politicians and public affairs. For that we need more “direct” democracy (see www.iniref.org) such as the law-proposal and the veto referendum.

People in recent decades have become more sceptical about politicians of all parties. Many have learnt that by just giving away your vote once every five or so years you have very little influence. At election time you have to choose a “package deal” of party policy, hoping for the best, and you have no chance to select and vote on particular public issues, however important some of them may be.

For our “democracy deficit” a remedy offered, at least by LibDems and Labour, is to replace our “first past the post” electoral system with a supposedly better one. The Conservative Party wants no change. The LibDems want proportional representation of parties whereas Labour offers “alternative vote”.

These changes would in no way give more “power to the people” in the long period between general elections.

Make direct democracy an issue in UK election 2010

April 19, 2010
50 per cent say choosing Brown is unthinkable… 51 per cent claim they have no enthusiasm for Tories…
The Independent Tuesday, 30 March 2010
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Even though the LibDems had a good tv spot:
iniref suggests:

The INdirect democracy of political parties and parliament has performed badly and this shows up in the anger and despair of many voters.

People see government as out of control, way beyond representation of the people, and parliament as weak, servile and, perhaps pitiably, corrupt.

Just giving away a vote to a candidate once every five years is a poor way to run and manage our (own) public affairs.

Practically speaking there is no way to abolish the political parties and institutions of government.

So how can things be improved?

THE BIG IDEA Partial Direct Democracy.

This gives us, the voters, a say in what politicians are doing in the periods between elections.

How it works.
1) A BRAKE on runaway government. With the optional veto-referendum a parliamentary bill or recently passed law can be referred to the people. Say, half a million endorsements (signatures) collected with a few months can trigger a veto referendum.

2) INPUT BY THE OWNERS The citizens’ law proposal (initiative) allows ideas which have gathered huge support to go onto the public agenda for debate. Parliament is obliged to debate these proposals. If rejected, the proposal goes to binding referendum of the whole electorate. Regulations for “the citizens’ initiative” are set to avoid overwhelming the system with proposals. This sort of democracy generates much public debate and encourages people to become involved.

3) SACK BAD MPs The “Recall” procedures is a citizens’ initiative within a constituency. If an agreed large number of voters call for an MP to go, a ballot must be held to decide her/his fate. If the Recall succeeds a by-election must be held.

More detail about these “DEMOCRACY APPS” may be found in www, see

http://www.iniref.org/index.enter.html

Charter88
Citizen Extra: General Election Manifesto Download http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/?p=2334

I&R ~ GB Citizens’ Initiative and Referendum
Campaign for direct democracy in Britain


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