Friday, 19 July 2013

Cllr Juby's Column; Do we take Democracy for granted?

We moan about successive governments, whether or not we support any particular party, but I think we don’t appreciate how lucky we are that every five years, we have the chance to make changes.

Democracy only works with the consent of the people, and we are fortunate that we do have a right to organise public demonstrations. though these may cost us, the taxpayer, a lot of money on policing! The fact that we have a free press does mean that it is rare for things to get out of control and the police are accountable.

Yes, we have had our riots with arson and looting, but this pales into insignificance when we look at other countries which are struggling to achieve democratic government.  The whole of the Middle East, as well as some countries in Africa, South America and Asia, seems to be on a knife edge. The only people who pay the price in the end are the millions of innocent men women and children who are either killed or maimed, or end up as refugees causing huge problems elsewhere – and incidentally to us as well in terms of overseas aid.

Politicians of all parties spend a lot of time on doorsteps trying to persuade people to vote and what we all hate is apathy – the ‘It doesn’t make any difference’ attitude.  Parliament is full of mudslinging as to who funds political campaigns – if political parties were funded centrally on their membership numbers it could encourage more of us to actually become involved.  Why should big business and trade unions call the shots for the rest of us?

Everything from cleaning the streets to international negotiations is decided by politicians, maybe some of us need to do some soul searching well in advance of the next elections!

I do tend to agree with Geoff on the issue of Party funding. The current trend at Prime Minister's questions is about Lynton Crosby or Unite and the petty placed questions that have cropped up time and again over the last three weeks have all monopolised this well trodden path and not addressed issues that could/should have been brought to the Prime Minister's attention.

The Liberal Democrats are mainly funded by members for the members and have no vested interests and I think the Conservatives and Labour party need to show the same willingness to cap donations from groups and show themselves as free from direction of vested interests.

That said, I think Parliament also needs modernising and rules changed. Pitt the Younger no longer walks the halls, neither does Earl Grey, Lord Salisbury or Asquith - the rules and language are antiquated and has been used to create this Party partisan fighting that ultimately doesn't help anyone. The public needs to get more involved yes but I think that Parliament also needs to be flexible and actually engage more with the Public and the best way to start this is by cutting the bickering, keep it constructive and actually debate the issues rather than who is responsible for the problem in the first place.

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