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A New Democracy


Detoxifying Westminster is simply the first part of the new Reform Act. To save Westminster, every part of Britain has to see a democratic renewal and restoration.

Once again, there are many separate changes which contribute to this decades-long needed reform. The most obvious and well-known one is, of course, proportional representation in General Elections.  The best system of which to use will be hotly debated, though in my opinion Single Transferable Vote is the most transparent and democratic system.[1] Many have passionately called for the abolition of First Past the Post, but this has to be combined with lesser known measures in order to restore any trust in our democratic system. Politicians should be liberated from exponential polarisation and free to create collaborative coalition governments without fear of retribution from their respective benefactors. Cross-party cooperation must become the norm, and those with simply the biggest donors cannot be the ones to win power. As mentioned in the previous part, political donations could no longer be traded for peerages, as there would be no appointed peers. Again we must go one step further. The Conservative Party has to be unhooked from the leeches that are Russian oligarchs and business barons, buying their policies and men into Downing Street.[2] If we could do that then a moderate, fiscally responsible, and anti-populist Conservative base could be reasoned with. Similarly the Labour Party is reliant on the enormous donations of Trade Unions,[3] and Union barons hold great sway over the selection of election candidates;[4][5] which will be hindered by the switch to a Proportional Open-List system. Union selected candidates are less likely to do deals and make bi-partisan policy.[6] To do this properly, election candidates could be given state funding during the pre-election period and registered political parties year round, administered by the independent Electoral Commission. This already has much of the infrastructure in place, and state political funding already occurs in the form of ‘Short Money’ in the Commons,[7] ‘Cranborne Money’ in the Lords,[8] and Policy Development Grants.[9] Election candidates are currently required to provide comprehensive election expenses to the Electoral Commission. This state-funding could be provided equally to all major political parties and all candidates, and assist in breaking the two-party state. We could also ban outright all political donations and further fight corruption.

 

Turnout is not the only measure of political participation, and whilst turnout continues to be reasonable but not impressive for General Elections, the amount of people who are willing to enter public life is appalling. The spine of our society is certainly our local representatives and volunteers whom care for our communities. These could be in the form of local interest groups, Trade Unions, community councillors, or pressure groups. Rather than being proactive in these activities it seems a large portion of people are either disillusioned with public life, believing the situation to be unsalvageable, or satisfied with simply fighting as a keyboard warrior trapped forever in their echo chambers unable to create any real change.[10] In fact some people are now actively hostile towards public life.[11] This is a dangerous trend which is consistently harming our society as a whole. That is because it is these groups which have to work symbiotically to make their voices heard. While parliaments and councils can create laws and policies which do make millions of lives better, that must permeate throughout the entirety of culture on a local level. One of the best examples of this may be discrimination. Of course it is crucial that all people are recognised as equal and that government institutions promote diversity and respect nationally, but bigotry will always exist until in every part of local public life in every town, city, and village they finally recognise their own prejudices. It may seem insignificant, but it is within these micro-institutions that new politicians learn how politics work. That will also filter through to the parliaments which will then further shape society. Our issues are cyclical, and it can be broken anywhere in said cycle.

 

This is the most important consequence of completely overturning Westminster, utterly incinerating our undemocratic institutions, and decimating the corruption and complacency in parliamentary politics. Honesty and integrity will not be restored in public life by simply replacing the wallpaper.[12] By digging up the weeds of deceit and distrust from the root it will spread to society. Detoxifying Westminster means detoxifying democracy and reversing the cycle that has caused the Johnson premiership. Democracy will never be perfect, but it can easily fall if we do not keep with the times. The fundamental truth that the most progressive democracies are stable and the most authoritarian dictatorships are stable, but hybrid states are at constant risk of democratic backsliding or collapse.[13] Once general trust in politicians and the importance of public life is renewed we must engage in the most ambitious political education program in history. That is, a government mandated place in the curriculum for all to learn how to vote, how the electoral system works, what parliaments can decide, and who their local representatives are. Involving young people in local public life to create small but tangible change could also improve mental health and life skills.

 

This new democracy only works when every single member of the populous understands and embraces it. All of these measures will assist in bringing together the Union however specific policies must be put in place for Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales within a new codified constitution and democratic system. There also needs to be better local representation for English regions to self-govern instead of being mandated by London. The current basis of how we think of the Union has been undermined and a new Federal Britain needs to be built; one with an undamaged union.


21/07/22

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