Being A Democrat
I am a democrat. Commitment to this concept outweighs my party affiliation or other political beliefs. That doesn't mean that I think that democracy can be imposed overnight - as Iraq shows. Pragmatism is essential. Democracies should evolve so that the elites give more real power to the people over time. It's interesting to note that most of the first modern day Parliamentary democracies evolved in island states. This underlines that in the eyes of the elite, security usually comes before democracy and states under threat won't trust their people to make the right choices between butter and guns. Unfortunately, in the UK today our democracy is deficient in many ways.
Three Steps To Enhancing Democracy & Save Money
As this Parliamentary exchange shows the Electoral Commission costs about £30m a year. It has failed. If it restricts its work to dealing with inquiries from the public and registering political parties we can shave £25m off that. That's the saving money bit.
Step 1 - Put some of that money (not all) into an election lottery. If you vote (can include a spoiled paper), your name goes in the lottery and you can win cash prizes. Just watch the turnout rise. It would be much much more effective than the Electoral Commission.
Step 2 - Run with the our say campaign. I'd set the bar at 2 million signatures to trigger a public referendum - and no holds barred. The our say campaign still seems a little confused on a few issues. They need to speak to my friend Alan Drew who lives in Switzerland to get the finer details worked out.
Step 3 - Reform the EU. Call me a mad optimist (I am), but I believe that the EU is reformable. The EU is undemocratic and unaccountable. We need to pull back powers from them and remove the intrinsic institutional bias to legislate within the EU.
Of course another related issue is standards in public life. David Cameron - you have to take the opportunity right now to set out a clear vision for raising these standards. Banning party peerages would be a start, but it's a lot wider and deeper than the issue of the day. It's about restoring checks and balances to the British Parliamentary system. Would anyone like to contribute some further suggestions?