Street protests, cuts and How to Win

Posted to Indymedia UK by iniref | 17.11.2010 17:42 | Manchester

Protest effects must be consolidated in order to achieve social and political change.

Protest against cuts in public services, health care, and increases in cost of higher education etc. is entirely understandable. Street demonstrations can help to raise awareness of the issues and perhaps persuade some people to change their voting choice next time around.

But protest is a rather blunt instrument for social and political change or reform. The effort needed to organise a demo is immense and the effects tend to be short lived. Only rarely, in terms of percentage success over many decades, have governments changed course as result of street protest. Our present system offers only indirect democracy, with elections once every five or so years, which install an “elective dictatorship”. The resulting government can ignore its own manifestos and promises and do what it likes, influenced by consideration of where party funding is likely to come from, regardless of the will of the people on particular issues.There are better ways to run our public affairs on a month to month, year to year basis. We need to introduce the tools of direct democracy. These have been well tried and tested in a number of countries. Then individuals, groups, associations and others can formulate policy proposals and if necessary force a referendum. In the conflict about student loans, the National Union of Students or a special working group could develop proposals and seek support for them. They may ally with other groups such as trade unions in order to improve chances of success. If the proposal can show enough endorsements by members of the electorate then, in the procedure which we at recommend, Parliament must consider, debate and decide upon the proposal. Only if Parliament rejects the proposal need a referendum be held, the result of which is legally binding. Parliament can put forward an alternative, which would be voted on together with the original one. What we have just described is an example of the citizens’ proposition (“initiative”). Also valuable is the veto-referendum, which can be used to block an unwanted law passed in Parliament, and the “Recall” with which a sitting MP can be sacked by the electorate of her/his constituency.

To achieve these sorts of citizen-led democracy, the reform movement must become stronger. Several groups have made a start, see these sites and join in soon! Adopt the proposals or start your own regional DD group?


Campaign for direct democracy in Britain


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