A New Democracy
I write this from opinion based on reality.
I have lived all my life in the UK and am a British Citizen.
I am a woman who believes that no one is better than anyone else we just all have different experiences, knowledge and skills.
But our current democracy doesn’t use those knowledge, skills and experiences to benefit our nation. I say our Nation because of its legal status but what we are is a collection of smaller communities that are interlinked some by law, some by birth right and some by common knowledge or interests.
This is a disparate attempt to consider a new form of democracy that is initially based on our current national structure. I hope that over time it can be refined to benefit everyone who lives on land that is part of the United Kingdom
Why do we need a new democracy?
Because what we have only serves a few people not the majority and when I mean serves I think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs with the greatest being self actualization. or perhaps we could say ultimate happiness.
I am not an academic, yes I have an Open University degree which took me about 10 years to complete as I studied whilst I was working. I have had jobs on and off for over 40 years but the nature of these jobs and the way that I got each of them reflects the nature of our society which is based on hit and miss and haphazard organised chaos.
My personal history like everyone else’s is unique. I have lived under the laws of this land since 1955 going to school, working in the UK and bringing a family up in the UK.
I have been a member of a political party and have always voted in both local and general elections. I have believed in proportional representation for nearly 40 years.
I have also had unique ideas that I have tried to give to this country but have found that although they could benefit a lot of people being able to share those ideas for an ordinary person like me on a consistent basis is practically an impossible task.
I have come across several other people in my life who also have good ideas that could benefit our nation and they too are in the same predicament.
We want to give these ideas to our nation not for profit but just to help other people.
I am not an atheist or belong to a religious group and I don’t want to because as I said initially I don’t believe that anyone is better than anyone else and I wouldn’t want my beliefs to get in the way of my ideas or gifts to my nation.
I have had heartache in my life losing two husbands to cancer and a daughter as a sudden infant death but don’t want these to be the reason why people think about my ideas of a new democracy.
I want people to think about them because they might actually work and because they might make democracy something that everyone of us can and should be involved with.
If we can do this, then perhaps we can get rid of blame and start realising that life can be happier and more creative for all of us. We can then encourage a give and take ethos for all of us. Where after we are given something we give something back to society rather than expecting that famous ‘somebody’ to do it.
Whatever age we are we can all help make things better .
I don’t want anyone reading this to laugh and say No No No…I want you to think for a few minutes and say Maybe maybe maybe
Because if we can get that Maybe…we will start to get that new democracy that can work.
So let’s consider our current democracy
Well currently in England [ Note there are differences for Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland ] everyone over the age of eighteen years old can elect people to several tiers. MP’s, County Councillors, District Councillors, Parish Councillors and other bodies including religious groups, down to committees for e.g. local drama groups. The lists are probably endless depending on your interest.
The smaller the group generally the most input or ability there is to be elected as a member to share existing or new ideas.
However in the 2011 census 21.3% of the population of England and Wales was under the age of eighteen. This is a large number of people who are disenfranchised.
I do not think that two year olds need to have a vote but they may have an idea that could improve life. When considering democracy across the UK it becomes confusing because of different arrangements and laws in different parts of the UK.
Currently we still have a monarch and there doesn’t generally seem to be a desire to change this and I personally am neutral.
We also have a house of Lords which has roles in considering legislation and I am also neutral about this as probably like many people do not know enough about what they do or how cost effective they are.
We then have Members of Parliament who are elected mostly as members of political parties although there are a few independents. Their role is to represent their constituencies. Of these members of parliament there are some members that have a dual role having their own constituencies that they represent but also being members of the UK government. There are currently twenty two Ministers. https://www.gov.uk/government/ministers and at the time of writing 16 of these Ministers were male.
According to the House of Commons library https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/about-us/ there are currently 650 constituencies in the UK. The smallest constituency, Na h-Eileanan An Iar, had 21,106 registered voters, while the biggest, Isle of Wight, had 113,021.
I could go into a lot of detail about the backgrounds of MP’s and Ministers but this would distract from my main purpose which is to consider a new form of democracy and readers can follow the links for greater detail.
Why do we need a new form of democracy?
I started writing this in 2018 but left it to drift through the Brexit debates but now at this time of writing it seems very relevant with Coronavirus lockdown. We are told that things will never be the same again and so it is an ideal time to put ideas forward for a better way of living.
I would like to help develop a society where instead of people just moaning they moan then do or at least try.
I could mention lots of stories where I would have supported people if they tried but this is not the place for this.
How could it work
We currently have 24 ministerial departments working with a variety of other agencies so I think that we could use the existing structures and keep political parties for now. What we could do is split the 650 MPs between these departments proportionately to the size of the departments.
Each of these departments then no longer need to be based in London which would hopefully create a much more balanced economy and lead to greater access from the electorate and children.
Every MP would also still be a constituency MP but they would accept ideas from anyone in the country not only their constituents and lobby groups.
Things to think about
1] We need to get away from the idea of everything being in London. There is no need to be with computerisation and networking MP’s can be anywhere in the UK and network with each other. We have had a sample of this during the Coronavirus epidemic where parliament is only sitting with 50 MPs the rest are using computer technology to link to parliament.
2] In the long run I would personally like to see Political parties disappear because I do not think that they represent the views of many of the public and there are other ways of making MPs accountable
3] One of the first roles I would get rid of immediately is that of the Whips. In any other organisation they would be seen as bullies. There is no need for thinking intelligent people to be bullied into something that they don’t believe in. Decisions should be based on a combination of experience and logic not being told how to think.
4] A change to a new democracy can be done in stages but we need to consider do we need a Prime Minister and if we do does that have to consistently be the same person?
5] I can understand that there’s history in relation to discussing things with the Queen but surely that needs to all change as well. I am sure that Prince Charles would agree with that.
6] Do we also need a speaker of the house of commons?
What actually is the role? Surely its just a chairperson and wouldn’t it be better to have several people who could do this role rather than one?
7] Currently the majority of our 650 MP’s are back benchers and do not get the opportunity to influence decision making and refining ideas and policies. I believe that the majority of MP’s come into the job because they want to help do something positive in British Society and that they must suffer as much frustration as those of us who want to share our ideas with the nation and so the new democracy is to benefit them as much as everyone else.
8] So my idea is that we get rid of the Cabinet Office and replace it with the Department for Crises and add one new department to the current list. The department for New Ideas.
We then divide the 650 MP’s initially along party lines. For those parties with fewer than 47 MP’s they could have a proxy member who is able to attend meetings but is unable to vote.
Each Department could have a chair person and a deputy chair person who would be voted on annually by the members. I suggest that the department of crises members do not also be chair people or deputy chair people.
These are my initial thoughts would be interested in comments and please circulate to anyone
Rachel Bramble May 2020