Lets change the way our Democracy is structured

ReformIt is clear from the public performances by Parliament over the last few days and some of the discussions I have personally sat through in less open settings at the same time that what we need in our nation, far more importantly than a clear decision about our departure or remaining in the EU is a new way by which public policies should be formed. The challenge is that all of us would need to play a part or at least express our views on a more frequent basis than once every five years or whenever Parliament agrees to hold an election, but then by its very nature those views would need to be listened and responded to unlike at present where our first past the post system determines who will be our representative and then in far too many ways our views and concerns as residents and workers get re-buried. When it came to a critical vote in Parliament last week about whether the legal advice given to the Cabinet should be shared with the rest of Parliament, after Parliament had called for this to happen and the Cabinet had refused to do so, all of our Sussex based Tory MPs voted against the will of Parliament. On the other hand across Brighton and Hove and in Eastbourne our four non Tory MPs all voted to ensure it did happen. When many Politicians do stand up to speak and claim that they have listened to the views of their electors, this seems to reverberate in a rather hollow way when votes are made in such a party dominated way. Although I don’t personally support the stance that Stephen Lloyd has taken in his decision to reject his party whip, I find his boldness to do so, in part because of the views of his constituents a very positive thing. Of course party dominance is not limited to votes on Cabinet decisions which thankfully in this case were overturned, it impacts on the way in which Councils operate both internally and in collaboration or a lack of collaboration with their neighbours, or in the case of Eastbourne and Lewes Councils their neighbours once removed. It is clear that a great many benefits have been achieved through the efforts by Adur and Worthing over the last decade. In one of my previous roles I had the privilege to sit on committees in West Sussex and saw some of the foundational work that was going on by people like Ian Lowrie who was firstly Chief Officer at Adur and then in Adur and Worthing before he retired from that role. The good work that has been achieved through that action and no doubt there have been problems too, needs to be carried out in many other places far more quickly if we are to see some benefits as a nation or even as a region as a whole. Clearly one of the biggest barriers to a more direct type of democracy is that communities would need to look beyond their own needs to ensure that a wider and greater good could be achieved. Clearly the times when this becomes a significant barrier is when local communities take to the streets to block things taking place in their back yard, even though the things being proposed could ultimately have a positive impact as long as they are planned well. Housing is one of the red rags that offends many people who live in every community whilst potentially offering a solution to many of the other people who live in the same areas, albeit in rooms and houses that no longer fit their needs very well. However if we could resolve such challenges, the prospect of ensuring that educational, training and health policies along with policies related to policing and other forms of blue light activity would be a better match to our community needs than those determined by Ministers whose roles and decisions seem to be heavily influenced by large businesses including investment bodies and newspaper owners and trade union officials. It is obvious that bottom up solutions would not work in isolation and there would need to be a healthy mix of bottom up and top down democracy. However removing more power from those at the top would lessen the impact of individuals who seem to currently attract extensive payments from organisations that want to control our society. Such a shift would also end the prospect of local government budget settlements from being delayed by debates and votes on matters such as our EU departure that should have been resolved months or even a year or so ago!

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, EU Referendum, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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