A Manifesto for Open Democracy

This is a very old post from my blog; so old that it was originally hosted on LiveJournal. The page has been preserved in case its content is of any interest, but formatting errors are likely and the page's original comments have been lost. Please go back to the homepage to see the current contents of this site.

This is a thought exercise around the idea of an idealised democracy. I do not pretend that it is likely to be achieved at any point, nor do intend to actively campaign for it. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

On the whole my country, the United Kingdom, does Democracy pretty well. One only has to look at numerous examples around the globe to know how bad some of the alternatives can be. I just can’t help feel that the entire system is inefficient. We vote by constituency, which is fine for me as a traditionally Lib Dem voter in a constituency that swings about evenly between Lib Dem and Conservative. But what about the Labour voter here, who has pretty much no chance of successfully electing his candidate?

I’m not just arguing in favour of Proportional Representation, though. The MPs that we elect represent us, at least in theory. But how well do they, or even can they? Each constituency has people with so many wide-ranging opinions that one man or woman can’t hope to represent all of them. And then how well does an MP in government represent their constituents compared to an MP in opposition? Doesn’t the Whip system and the concept of “toeing the party line” blur the line between us being represented by an MP and us being represented by that MP’s party? And if we’re being represented by such a huge unwieldy thing as a party, how can we ever hope to agree with everything a party believes in?

What I propose is an open and transparent implementation of the extreme of direct democracy - a weakening of the powers of MPs to vote on our behalf, and a radical expansion of the power of public referendum. I also propose that the government, be it in the form of MPs or merely a body of civil servants, have the following core functions: