Brexit: A Shot in the Arm for Democracy.
In a brace of excellent posts blogger White Wednesday has explored the refrain often thrown at supporters of the Flexcit plan(The Market Solution or TMS)that it is a no-go because “The politics don’t work.”(You can find these two posts here and here, please read.) He demonstrates how each phase of the plan flows from one to the other, from the initial exit to having control over immigration policy and then on to forging our independent place in the modern interconnected world. These will work and all add up to a brighter future for Britain. I hope he will not mind though if I add to his work by looking at stage six of Flexcit and in doing so I will use the self same words of those opposed to the plan but throw them back; we actually need Flexcit because domestically, “The politics don’t work”. What do I mean?
Voter turnout rates are an indicator of dissatisfaction with the political system and it is alarming that there now seems to be a pattern of something like 35–40% of voters not bothering with General Elections. Sixty plus per cent turnout is impressive though when you look at Local Elections, turnout for which can often be described as pitiful. Huge amounts of people switched off from the democratic process is not healthy. Clearly changes are needed so we can revitalize our flagging democracy, to reinvigorate it and make domestic politics relevant and meaningful once more to an increasingly cynical public. And if you think this is just a touch of hyperbole on my part then consider this:
British governments are quite prepared to enact fundamental change in our society without any mandate from the voting public. The Labour government of Tony Blair introduced a mass immigration policy and the Tory/Libdem coalition altered the nature of marriage. Both were seismic transformations in their own way yet neither was in a party manifesto, so were not open to public debate and the opportunity to vote for(or not) the party that wished to enact them. Try to forget your particular viewpoint on these two matters for a moment and think about the lack of any kind of democratic process shown. These two examples reveal British governments, and the politicians that staff them, as being out of control and thus treating the electorate with utter disregard and complete disdain. They are clear indicators that we do not have a properly functioning democracy. Is it any wonder that sizeable chunks of the electorate are switched off? Change is long overdue, but what form should it take?
The final part of Flexcit(TMS) is the work done by The Harrogate Agenda(THA). It is based on the premise that our representative democracy is out of date and now not fit for the 21st century. What is needed in the UK is a move to real democracy of a more direct nature. The starting point will be to declare that all state authority comes from the people, not parliament as it is now, and hence government becomes the servant of the people not their master. Once this is established then other fundamental changes will follow. These would include the people’s consent in the making and repeal of law and the separating of the executive and legislature in parliament. Both national and local government will also have to refer to voters for their approval on the raising and spending of taxes, including the holding of a referendum on any budget. Thus the electorate would have a direct say in the important matters that affect them. How can we achieve this?
Direct democracy, as envisaged in Flexcit, is incompatible with membership of the European Union. Article 10 of the Treaty of the European Union states that : “The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy”. What’s more the supranational EU is dependent for its continued existence on the governments of its member states, all of which are representative democracies. So it is clear that if we desire a truer, direct democracy that empowers the electorate and gives them a real say in how their country is run then we must first vote to leave the European Union. Then the much needed shot in the arm for domestic democracy will follow.
Let’s take stock here. If the Flexcit plan is followed then we can safely leave the EU’s clutches, engage fully as an independent nation at the global level, and at home have a democracy that is functional, modern and direct. It’s almost as though we could have our cake and eat it. What’s not to like?