Monday, 28 November 2011

There is a better way........ (2)

Richard North, EU Referendum, has responded to my original post here and here, the latter link being his 'critique' of my post. A number of points thus arise:
  • My belief that direct democracy is better than the present 'charade' that passes for democracy has been correctly summarised
  • It may be I am guilty of slackness in my use of the English language because when suggesting that this country should adopt the Swiss model of direct democracy I am not suggesting a 'cut 'n paste' operation, merely the principle of devolution of powers down to the lowest level; cutting the size of government; cutting the dictatorial attitude of politicians; relaxing the centrist control that is all too apparent today; allowing people to choose the type of society in which they live.
  • Never having visited Switzerland I have to accept the criticism of 'petty rules & regulations', however might it be possible that the petty level of rules & regulation may have something to do with their love of 'preciseness'? That the British are more 'laid back' where rules and regulations are concerned means that the criticisms mentioned would not necessarily arise?
  • The derivation of the word 'democracy' is accepted; however if 'power' is to be exerted, then I would rather it be by a majority view within the area that I live, than a majority view of a small minority of our society who have their own 'agenda' and are totally disconnected from the people
  • All systems of democracy have their inherrent dangers and pitfalls, yet is that not what this country experienced in May 2010 when we ended up with 'government' being hijacked resulting in a mish-mash of policies presented in a 'programme for government' for which no-one had voted?
  • Unfortunately the present system of representative democracy produces what I have termed 'democratised dictatorship' in that every 4/5 years a political party is elected and who, in their term of office, can pretty well introduce whatever laws - and however draconian - they like. We have no means of protesting, amending or annuling those laws. Had we the process of unfettered referendum and initiative, then the system of representative democracy might be acceptable - with a few caveats.
  • If government is not a force for good; if in an ideal world we would not have one and the only reason we should tolerate it is because not having one is marginally worse, then surely it must follow that government should be small and constrained - something direct democracy accomplishes.
  • If restraint is required, one that makes governance difficult and thus forces people to deal with their own problems; then does not direct democracy, involving the devolution of power down to the lowest level, achieve this?
  • The idea of referism for budgets is totally agreed, but then surely it should be agreed for any proposal that politicians wish to make? As in the economic sense, so in the political sense does it become necessary to 'starve the beast'.
Just a few initial thoughts in reply..............


Anonymous said...

Entirely agree WfW...

Your point about precision, is interesting...

Switzerland is comprised of some pretty disparate tribes, and daily life in Ticino (Italian) is very different from somewhere like Zurich (German), the former being far less petty.

And yes, the point about DD is to push decision making down to its lowest possible level, and make people think about the issues that directly affect them before they attempt to institute some sort of new initiative. With our system, we have become lazy, people need to understand that the ultimate in sovereignty is me, myself, I.

Saying that, the federal government of Switzerland is even more lazy, it only meets around four times a year for two weeks at a time.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

r_w: Thanks!

Perhaps it should be noted that the Swiss politicians dont have to meet more, when they do it is but to 'nod through' what has already been agreed with in prior consultations and negotiations?

Less meetings, less expense to the public purse - especially no second home mortgages etc.....

From your remarks I presume you have visited Switzerland? Your comment about the Italian provinces and the Swiss provinces underlines the point about people being able to create the society in which the live - rather than have centralists impose a one-size-fits-all on the country.

Richard said...

Actually, if Switzerland is to be a model, of sorts, it is the canton structure we should perhaps be looking at - devolving government down to its lowest possible level.

I have less of a problem with direct democracy at local level, where there is a realistic and representative demos.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

R: Then we are in agreement - DD is best! :)

Originally I compared counties to cantons - with hindsight it would be better to compare cantons with district councils, the latter more akin to a canton. I should have seen this point earlier (idiot me)

TomTom said...

Before Britain had two major wars the State did not intrude much at all. It was Centralised Control, Conscription, and Mobilisation of Labout that created the centralised control system.

Centralised Media, Business HQ, Financial Centre, Airports, have created a Top-Down Command System that has corroded wiring and leaky pipes.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TT: Agreed! So what we need is a competent electrician and plumber - know any Poles........?

Stuart said...

Get your wishlist in for a new constitution:

separation of power

recall of representatives

veto referenda

staggered elections

supreme court

yearly budget ratification refernendum

WitteringsfromWitney said...

S: Already in! Any others - email me. Will let you see a 'draft' for comment/amendments prior to publiciation.

Repeat it may be a few days - am discussing with RN.

Anonymous said...

Mornin' WfW...

Yes I have visited various parts of Switzerland, and my wife spent quite some time there before we were married, she had a partner from there.

If there is any major criticism of the place overall, it is that there is very little to complain about... Which sort of makes for boring blogging really :)

As for Stuart's wishlist, even though it is difficult to see anything coming from this exercise, I would like to add our constitution to the list, I don't much care whether it is re-codified into a single document, but it is the basis of Britishness (or more accurately Englishness), and is widely accepted here and around the world by "real" people as common sense.

e.g. Judges and Juries derived from the our peers, Habeas Corpus, accent on civil law and precedent, rather than royal decree (statute), and so on.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

r_w: Thought so! As to there being little to compain about, it means DD works!

An aside: I am of the opinion that any public official should be elected - and that goes for judges too. Rather than have them able to sit anywhere, I would suggest each canton or district council have their own. That would also ensure that the type of law and order people vote for would be backed by appropriate sentencing.