Democratic deficiencies

Having gone on record on Twitter calling for a OMOV system as the most democratic system available for elections within my party, I may be being a little touchy on this post.

A few things have begun to irk me over the last few weeks (I am a slow burn – aye right).

There is nothing new in this as I am a dyed-in-the-wool grumpy.

No the things that are griping my lemons are all in the one area – democracy.

High minded stuff to rant about on a saturday night before the consumption of Alcohol, but I feel we need to be aware of threats to democracy from wherever they come.

It all started with the bond markets (not an economics lecture, honest) and the changing of Greece’s democratically elected government, followed swiftly with the removal of Silvio Berlusconi and his replacement by a bevy of technocrats (read bankers and stooges) and not an election in sight.

Now neither of these Governments were doing a good job and their removal may be expedient in terms of saving the Euro and a collapse of the European banking system.  Ends justifying the means and all that.  But that is hardly the point.

Bond markets (or any other market for that matter) do not get to decide who the government should be.  The invisible hand of government changing is not acceptable it has to be the visible and accountable hands that put X’s in the boxes that choose the government.  Spain is next BTW.

Anyway railing at the Bond markets is like howling at the moon.  And on my way to work this morning I was,indeed, howling at the moon (Radio 4 coverage of Pension strike ballots).

The snotty commentator was through snide insinuation saying that the strikes overwhelmingly voted for by the members who bothered to vote weren’t a mandate because the turnout was between 30 and 40%.  Almost gleefully the same commentator warned Brendan Barber that Francis Maude (yes the 15min walkout, chuck constituency mail in a park bin idiot) cabinet minister would be looking seriously at changing legislation to get a 50% threshold.  Unbiassed reporting my foot.

Now after a bout of sulphurous swearing I thought that there may be a point to be answered here.  I will lay aside the hypocrisy of a coalition Govt that was constructed under false pretenses (many LibDems did not vote to put a Tory into number 10) and has no majority of the electors.

Why shouldn’t there be a minimum turnout for any action?  Members of unions should make their support or opposition known.

If this were to be enforced on union memberships it would need to be applied to all elections.  A minimum turnout or no result?

Seems fair enough to me.  A turnout of 13.65% in a Glasgow council by-election returned an SNP councillor with just over 1000 votes.  Is this really democracy in action or is a symptom of democratic disengagement with the process.  If voters are that disengaged then we have a problem (oh wait weren’t there riots in the summer and occupy movement going on right now).  Choosing not to vote is everyone’s right.  Right? (Not in Australia where they have compulsory voting – not advocating this but there are alternatives)

Who gains with this level of disinterest and apathy?  Pressure groups and those for whom power not service is the main motive.

The Scottish Parliament with a mixed selection system was supposed to generate a collaborative working parliament that reflected the views of the people in relative proportions.  Due to a number of factors the arithmetic resulted in a large majority last time for the SNP.

Pissed about that, yes.

Consider that with a similar level of support 2 parliaments ago Labour had no majority (as it was designed) but the nationalists this time with the utter collapse of LD vote and an insipid Labour campaign have bucked the system.  It isn’t their fault.

Better design of the system and we would have had a system that ensured collaboration by the parties in the interests of Scotland.  (after all that’s what the constitutional convention’s aim was).

Now I ramble a bit but..

In many places and on many fronts Democracy and its workings are being squeezed to generate a set of outcomes that the majority do not want or do not expect.  We are sleep-walking into territory that leaves the many groups of vulnerable people open to abuse and exploitation.

I am not even going to go near Boundary changes / LD gerrymandering/ ECHR / EU legislation / European Commission / Libya / Syria or many other places.

Democracy is worth fighting for, so lets not be like Lear and stripped piecemeal of our knights until all we are left with is the fool.

(electoral colleges for electing leaders – whats that all about?)



Posted on November 19, 2011, in Political matters and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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