Friday, 29 July 2011

Democracy on their terms

"Let the people think they govern and they will be governed."
William Penn (1693)

With the birth of the Coalition came various promises, one of which was that any petition that garnered 100,000 signatures became eligible to be debated in Parliament. In their programme for government, the Coalition state (page 27):
"We will ensure that any petition that secures 00,000 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."
Note the words "will be eligible" and "a bill eligible to be voted on" - in other words, if the high and mighty that pose as elected representatives wish to ignore said petition, they will. Anyways, a new website to enable petitions to be submitted electronically has appeared, the introduction about which Douglas Carswell waxes lyricial - well, he states that it is no bad thing.

Carswell proposes Direct Democracy and on their website the 'by-line' reads "shifting power from the state to the citizen". Indeed the "About Us" section proclaims:
"Based on the book Direct Democracy, the localist papers, and The Plan, the Direct Democracy campaign aims to shift governmental powers back, from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to town halls, from the state to the citizens.  Power would be dispersed among communities, through localism and through referendums. Britain has been heading in the wrong direction. The British People are giving up on politics and politicians. Direct Democracy aims to restore meaning to the ballot box, freedom to the citizen and dignity to Parliament."
Do not, dear reader, be misled by that statement about restoring freedom to the citizen as it is apparent that that is far from the intent of Carswell or his fellow politicians. On that point, consider the existing petition system as explained on the Parliament website:
"Generally, MPs will present all petitions they receive from their constituents. However, MPs aren't compelled to present petitions and doing so does not imply that they support the action the petition is calling for."
To return to Carswell and his remarks, as quoted by the BBC, note that he says:
"Now we could be forced to explain why we can't have the death penalty in a civilised society."
Did you spot the use of "we" - now we could be forced to explain......

So, MPs do not have to accept a petition forwarded to them and Carswell still wants Parliament to be the supreme arbiter of what can and cannot happen in this nation.

If ever anything demonstrated that we live under a democratised dictatorship then the fact that an MP does not have to present a petition from a constituent confirms that fact. I would also suggest that the Direct Democracy website should be retitled "Direct Democracy By Dictatorship".


Stuart said...

It is all bull shit. I think "The Plan" and all the rest was serialised in the Telegraph. Hannan and Carswell are very good at making a lot of people believe they are for the people. I remember reading some of the proposals and saw the clause that any petition would have to be debated in parliament. They have the power and they have no intention of giving it up. We need the ability to over rule parliament. When we have that, we might be able to call ourselves a democracy. Hannan and Carswell are very careful not to go that far.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

S: But we do have the ability to overrule Parliament - the problem is that not sufficient of the sheeple ralise it!

And yes, most definitely you first sentence is true!