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Is the UK Ready for Direct Democracy?

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posted on Sep, 9 2011 @ 09:33 AM
Some where on ATS there is a guy with this saying for his signature " we will never be free untill the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last cleric" yep, that guy is right.

posted on Sep, 9 2011 @ 09:38 AM
Something else I have just thought of, Greece, where democracy was invented, had slaves, lots of them, not very democratic in my opinion.

posted on Sep, 9 2011 @ 01:14 PM
reply to post by christina-66

Great to see the case for more and better democracy presented well.

To push through reform which would enable us to use tools of direct democracy such as the citizens' proposal (initiative) and binding referendum will need a strong movement, maybe comparable with the 19th century Chartists cause, with the campaigns for universal franchise or -- because of their originality and success -- CAMRA the campaign for real ale!

There is widespread support among adults in the UK (opinion surveys) but so far there is no large-scale movement or campaign. In the early 1990s Charter88 put forward proposals for "initiative and referendum" and in the late 1990s calls for reform of this kind increased.

I helped to launch a campaign to be found at

We are very keen to contact people who want to co-operate or just gather information.

posted on Sep, 10 2011 @ 01:03 PM
reply to post by paraphi

Arguably the people in the UK also set the agenda, in that the issues of the day are reflected in the business of the government. Simply put, if the government does not reflect the general will of the people then they are booted out of office. You may think that they are not, but the evidence sugests they are.

Yes – like we set the agenda for deciding to invade Iraq? Like we set the agenda for becoming signatories to an EU constitution without the promised referendum? Like we set the agenda for power, for contracts, for transport? They are booted out of office on a fairly regular basis – in the vain hope that some things will actually change. They never will. A political party is surprisingly cheap to get in your back pocket – simply fund both sides – and that’s just what business does. There is no political choice in the UK anymore – there is simply more corporatism – no matter what party is elected.

disagree. I think people now are more informed than ever. I am certainly informed, or like to think so. You go into a pub and there will be half a dozen opinions on how to kill the proverbial cat. Whether the “public at large” gives a toss is moot.

You really think people are more informed than ever? Really? When The Sun is the biggest selling paper in the country and it writes for an IQ of about 80? There’s certainly a lot of misinformation out there. A lot of fantasy conspiracy that distracts from the real matters at hand....that and pop idol.

But give me five minutes to try to explain to anyone how the insurance industry has our political and legal classes in its pocket for an absolute song and their eyes simply begin to glaze over...the concentration just isn’t there....but it’s messing fundamentally with ordinary peoples’ lives.

The “public at large” are happy to proceed with their lives so long as certain things happen and lines are not crossed. For example, a line was crossed with MP’s expenses and not only did some politicians lose their seats, the government has been compelled to act.

Well we keep being told we’re on the way out of recession. That’s simply not true – there’s been very little by way of private enterprise happening in the country for about 20 years (apart from house building – and that was a racket not an industry). When this recession really does expose itself for what it is (the catch up of the UK economy since the mid 70’s without a credit card for all and sundry) we will then see how happy the public at large is to maintain the status quo.

Similarly, although we rant and rave about Europe and all hold an opinion about the pesky French, actually the “public at large” want economic stability and their freedoms assured. They don’t want to read the Marrastrict Treaty or even know how to spell the bloody word! If they want to be “informed” then there are hundreds of websites and newspapers to help them.

The key points in the Maastrich Treaty weren’t even given to us in bite size chinks – that’s because it laid out the plans for the euro – and we would have rejected it outright.

Translated to the UK, for a “Frequent Referendum” to be called 1.2% of the electorate would have to support it – that’s 500,000+ people to get a legal revision considered. For a Popular Initiative, to get some political debate would be 2.5% of the electorate, or 1.2 million people filling a form.

We live in the 21st century – these things are easy to do – and if the issue is of importance – and an actual debate and vote would be the end result – then the numbers would be there ok.

The current situation in the UK is that the government will debate an issue if 100,000 people sign a petition. It seems the UK proviso is more generous then Switzerland!

That’s a tokenistic gesture by our government. They also have the ability to talk popular legislation out of time too. Or just pass from one house to the other until the next election. Result – more of the same.

Prove to me that the average UK person is less “informed” than their Swiss counterpart.

Pop into any Glasgow chatroom any old can hear it for yourself.

posted on Sep, 10 2011 @ 01:17 PM

Originally posted by christina-66

...there is one country that does more than any other to embody popular sovereignty within a multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-confessional society: Switzerland.

In this alpine republic with just seven million people, citizens' law-making is exercised on all political levels - including almost 3,000 autonomous municipalities, 26 sovereign states and on the common, federal level.

While it embraces direct democracy, Switzerland is nevertheless still a representative democracy. Most laws are made and decided by parliament. The important difference, however, between the Swiss system and the "indirect" democracy of Britain is that citizens are entitled to put almost every law decided by their representatives to a general vote - if they want.

For this to happen, members of the public need to gather 50,000 signatures (approximately one per cent of the electorate) within 100 days of the publication of a new law. In 96 out of 100 cases, no such referendum is triggered, because the parliamentary process enjoys a very high level of legitimacy. That is because the elected lawmakers know that their work will be seriously checked by the public, so do a very good job indeed.

Daily Telegraph

Compared to purely representative democratic systems, direct democracy (or ‘pure democracy’) fundamentally alters the communication among citizens and also between citizens and their elected representatives.

People are incentivised to become better informed on issues affecting them because what they think matters and has influence. The better informed citizenry give the politicians far less leeway to pursue personal interests.....and happy side effects, certainly in Switzerland’s case, include lower public expenditure, lower public debt, and lower tax evasion because people feel more responsible for their community.

With the result that...

Switzerland has emerged as the country with the highest quality of living in a survey designed to help governments and multinational companies place employees on international assignments.


This is a tried and tested system with impressive results. Is there any good reason why such a system couldn’t be implemented in the UK? I honestly can’t think of one. I can come up with plenty of good reasons why we should tho’.

1. We have a successful system of direct democracy to emulate.

2. They have among the highest standards of living on the planet compared to the UK’s current ranking of 28th.


3. Apart from the implementation of a framework to facilitate direct democracy the present system would not require to be dismantled overnight.

4. Direct democracy would affect change organically per the will of the people.

5. Lessen, if not eliminate, the requirement for political parties and their rhetoric.

6. It is government of the people, by the people for the people.

7. The UK’s political elite need a wakeup call – whether they be in power or not.

8. It would reinvigorate our democracy and liven up political debate.

9. It raises issues elites want to suppress.

10. It provides a simple route to repeal bad legislation.

11. It enables new ideas.

12. It restores representative government to a point where parliamentary members do actually represent the will of the people.

Except the real decisions are taken by their central bank which just last week pegged their franc to the Euro and devalued it 7% overnight without any need for public consultation or vote. Control the money and you control the country. All else is theatre.

posted on Sep, 10 2011 @ 01:27 PM
How about having a directly elected prime minister (and first ministers and chief ministers/premiers in the sub national entities)? I think this is something that the UK should look into.

Another issue is the age old debate about the House of Lords. I am conflicted on this one. As an American I can tell you that a directly elected upper house (ie: the proposed UK Senate) would be filled with career politicians and would become a another version of the House of Commons but with a different name. On the other hand, with the hereditary peers you have people who have a life and a wide range of interests other than winning the next election, yeah they arent elected but they bring all sorts of knowledge and skills you wouldent find with an elected senate. The life peers though are a bunch of useless political hacks appointed by Labor as a reward for political favors, get rid of them before anything else.

posted on Sep, 10 2011 @ 01:35 PM
reply to post by ChrisF231

The upper house should be implemented in exactly the same way as a jury. You get selected randomly for a period of service in the house for a fixed short duration and are cloistered away while serving. It eliminates cronyism and career politics in one fell swoop.

posted on Sep, 12 2011 @ 02:48 PM
Thank you christina-66 for your detailed analysis of my post. So reassuring to have every word picked over. Just a couple of points though.

Originally posted by christina-66
You really think people are more informed than ever? Really? When The Sun is the biggest selling paper in the country and it writes for an IQ of about 80? There’s certainly a lot of misinformation out there. A lot of fantasy conspiracy that distracts from the real matters at hand....that and pop idol.

Surely they have tabloids in Switzerland? Writing off a few million people as implied thick / low IQ as being uninformed is a bit (er) silly. What would you suggest? Only allow newspapers which have content quality passed by a cabal of the intelligent and informed. I am sorry people who read the Sun are (in your book) not just uninformed but misinformed. I bet you none of these thickies can hold a valid opinion, surely we should take away their ability to vote!

Originally posted by christina-66

Prove to me that the average UK person is less “informed” than their Swiss counterpart.

Pop into any Glasgow chatroom any old can hear it for yourself.

There you go again. The uninformed (read misinformed) UK masses. Do you know anyone from Switzerland?


edit on 12/9/2011 by paraphi because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 03:00 PM

Originally posted by D4Saken
While this sounds brilliant, won't "The Powers That Be" just squash it.

The D notice for instance, would quickly end any real debate on the matter.

Safely returning the sheep back to the fold. Content in their ignorance once again.

I could be wrong. I doubt it. But I could be.

Perhaps as an example: The Princess Diana Assassination. D Notice
edit on 8-9-2011 by D4Saken because: The Princess Diana Assassination.

A D-notice is not legally binding or enforceable. It is merely a request made by the Government not to mention something and it is purely down to the goodwill of the Media (or promise of something down the line) that they play ball. There have been instances in the past were certain publications have ignored D-notices and I would hardly use Princess Diana as an example of one in action as there is litterally a plethora of info out there to find, including pictures.

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