FAQ   Search   Memberlist   Usergroups   Register   Profile   Log in to check your private messages   Log in 
Blair's Labour Gets a Makeover --Power to the People?

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Next Level Forum Index -> General Discussion
  ::  Previous topic :: Next topic  
Author Message
Fintan
Site Admin


Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 7735

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Blair's Labour Gets a Makeover --Power to the People? Reply with quote



Quote:
Democracy faces meltdown in Britain as the public rejects an outdated political system which has centralised more authority than ever in a tiny ruling elite, the Power inquiry warns today.

It concludes that growing numbers of people feel their votes are wasted and that they have no influence over the decisions that shape their lives....

With fewer people now voting in general elections than in Celebrity Big Brother, politicians know that there is a crisis brewing. "Citizens are very cheesed off," says Lady Kennedy. "They feel that what's on offer leaves that bad taste of monosodium glutamate. It has the same unfulfilling quality as a take-away - that is what people were complaining to us about."

It is a fair bet that both Gordon Brown and David Cameron, who have promised to create a new kind of politics, will be vying to adopt the Power Inquiry's most popular ideas.


Ok, the subtext on all this is to give Gordon Brown a way of repackaging
the Labour Party when he takes over from Tony Blair.

Cue the pop music Labor Party soundtrack... again....

"Things are gonna get better.... no really... we promise this time"

Nice marketing --unlikely to change the reality.


Quote:
Red Baroness on mission to save democracy
(Filed: 27/02/2006)

Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson meet the Labour peer devoting her reforming zeal to trying to save British democracy.

The Red Baroness is never still. On the day we meet, Helena Kennedy, QC, has been defending a gangland "Mr Big" in court; the next day, she will be fighting a case on behalf of a terrorist suspect.


Lady Kennedy has spent 18 months leading the Power Inquiry: ‘Choice is the word of our time’

As chairman of the Human Genetics Commission, she is trying to pick a way through the ethical minefield of science. As a Labour peer, she is the leader of Tony Blair's civil liberties rebels.

And for the past 18 months, as head of the Power Inquiry, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws has been devoting her reforming zeal to trying to save British democracy.

With fewer people now voting in general elections than in Celebrity Big Brother, politicians know that there is a crisis brewing. "Citizens are very cheesed off," says Lady Kennedy. "They feel that what's on offer leaves that bad taste of monosodium glutamate. It has the same unfulfilling quality as a take-away - that is what people were complaining to us about."

It is a fair bet that both Gordon Brown and David Cameron, who have promised to create a new kind of politics, will be vying to adopt the Power Inquiry's most popular ideas.

But Lady Kennedy warns: "This isn't something they can start cherry-picking and do a little twiddle here, a little twiddle there.

"They all look for the cosmetic solution - this is too important for that. Politicians use lots of new language about empowerment but they never want to actually give away power."

The inquiry - an 800,000 investigation funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust - has spent 18 months talking to voters about why they are so disengaged from politics.

Its members include Ferdinand Mount, Margaret Thatcher's former adviser; Emma B, the Radio 1 DJ; and Frances O'Grady, the deputy general secretary of the TUC. Often, Lady Kennedy says, their expectations were confounded. "We went into it thinking that people were apathetic, bored, comfortable - but it's politicians who tell you all that. When you talk to ordinary people and go up to community halls they all say it is nothing to do with being uninterested in politics - it's that they feel they are not being listened to."

According to the voters, there is too little to choose from between the political parties. "You're getting a hollowing-out of democracy - there are just guys in different suits, or even the same suits but slightly different faces," says Lady Kennedy.

"Democracy cannot function in that cosy-schmozy way; it really does need to have a clash of ideas for new things to come through. You're certainly not going to get that if people are playing ring-o'-roses around a few centrist ideas. We've got vanilla-flavoured politics. Why would anyone want to get involved in that?"

She warms to her theme. The political system is still operating in the 19th century, but people have changed, she says. "They don't fit into neat ideological bags any more. Even in the Sixties there was still an industrialised society, a class system.

"Politicians haven't got any worse, it's folk that have changed. They don't think politicians are much smarter than them any more. They see George Galloway on Big Brother and the Prime Minister being questioned on sofas - the idea of the old grainy black and white photograph of a politician, whose life you knew nothing about, has long gone."

The iPod generation, she says, wants more power over its politicians. "Doing the business once every four years - and your vote not counting very much - now feels very arid to most people." In its report, published today , the inquiry sets out dozens of proposals to bring the political system into the 21st century.

Lady Kennedy picks some of them off - including the first-past-the-post system for electing MPs, which the inquiry considers outdated.

She wants to replace it with a single transferable vote PR system. "We need to give people a sense that they have more options and their vote may really count," she says. "Your first choice might be a Tory, your second might be a Green."

And Parliament itself, she says, must be revitalised. The inquiry calls for concordats to be drawn up, setting out the relationship between Parliament and the Executive and between central and local government.

Select committees, the report recommends, should have the power to subpoena witnesses and to become involved in choosing public appointments such as the head of the BBC.

"You need to have less cronyism - it leads to cynicism, and we need to restore trust," says Lady Kennedy. Thus, the inquiry's report says that MPs should be given a vote on all matters of national importance, such as going to war. And the power of the whips should be curbed.

"Ordinary folk like their MPs - but they say, 'When she's in the Commons, she has to do what Tony Blair tells her, she's just a puppet, subject to a control system'. Whips shouldn't have the power to blight people's careers," says Lady Kennedy.

The House of Lords, according to the inquiry, should be 70 per cent elected, with the remaining members chosen for their expertise.

"Everyone in the House of Lords should be over 40", the chairman says. "A lot of people go into politics having done nothing; the Lords should be made up of people who have set up businesses, had children, had another life."

Yet, at the same time, the inquiry wants to lower the age at which people can vote and become MPs to 16. Isn't there a contradiction here? "Children at 16 have all sorts of responsibilities - they can get married and join the Army," Lady Kennedy says.

Members of the public, she believes, should also be able to propose laws, which the Government would have to introduce if there were sufficient support.

"If you can get two million signatures on a petition, then there would have to be a referendum. I can easily imagine there might have been an attempt to get that kind of thing on the countryside, or on Europe, or on ID cards. It's about people feeling they have some power."

Party funding, in Lady Kennedy's view, must be cleaned up. The report proposes a 10,000 cap on individual donations and suggests that large organisations, such as trades unions, should be able to give only 100 per member. "What it feels like to most voters is that there are some people who are able to give 1 million and end up getting a peerage or special kind of access," she says.

Lady Kennedy also wants the Government to give everyone a 3 voucher to spend on supporting a political party when they vote - a proposal that could cost up to 90 million.

"They would tick a box at the same time as crossing their ballot paper. The money would go to their chosen party for local campaigning."

There should be a Royal Commission on media ownership, she says. "Most people are concerned that Rupert Murdoch owns too much of the British media."

The inquiry also calls for an independent National Statistical and Information Service. "People must be able to trust that information is not being spun, that the sand is not shifting underneath them."

Lady Kennedy is a Labour peer - to what extent does she think that the disillusionment with politics has been caused by New Labour's style? "All the parties are now turning to this way of selling politics as a commodity," she says. "People don't want politics as soap powder."

She thinks that politicians have become dangerously complacent. "It's a very comforting world if you've been elected: you're in there, it's all in place for you - what's not working about it? But this is a crisis far greater than the one they think they're dealing with."

When the country last went to the polls in May 2005, the turnout was around 60 per cent, she points out.

"It was the abstention party that won the last election - several million more people didn't vote than voted for the Government. Here we are, with choice being rammed down our throats. Choice is the word of the time, and the one area where we don't have any choice is in our politics."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/27/nkenn127.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/02/27/ixhome.html

Quote:
Bleak view of the gulf between people and government
By Nigel Morris
Published: 27 February 2006

Democracy faces meltdown in Britain as the public rejects an outdated political system which has centralised more authority than ever in a tiny ruling elite, the Power inquiry warns today.

In a bleak picture of the gulf between the government and the governed, it concludes that growing numbers of people feel their votes are wasted and that they have no influence over the decisions that shape their lives.

Setting out a 30-point plan to revitalise the electoral system and achieve a dramatic shift of power from Whitehall, it says that there is an "overwhelming desire for change among the British people".

The inquiry report, Power to the People, dismisses suggestions that the falling electoral turnout - nearly 40 per cent of adults failed to vote at last year's general election - is due to public apathy or a declining sense of duty.

It points to the mass support for causes such as the anti-war movement and the Countryside Alliance and to a recent survey that discovered that half of adults - 20 million people - had done voluntary work.

The report, the most extensive of its kind in Britain, concludes that a two-party political system moulded in the early 20th century was out of kilter with a "far more complex" country. The inquiry says that there is a "very widespread sense that citizens feel their views and interests are not taken sufficiently into account".

It delivers a damning verdict on the first-past-the-post voting system and calls for a "more responsive" electoral system such as that offered by the single transferable vote, in which electors place their candidates in order of preference.

Such a reform, in making every vote count, would help to create "more open, fluid and relevant parties" as opposed to parties that were increasingly seen as too similar.

"A system which reduced the security of safe seats and thus required all parties and candidates to campaign vigorously could prevent some of the [recent] surges of support for the British National Party."

The inquiry believes that the vote should be extended to 16-year-olds in an attempt to engage them in the democratic process.

It calls for more incentives to encourage small parties to stand, such as the scrapping of the election deposit, and for voters to be able to allocate 3 of public money to support the party of their choice on polling day.

The inquiry warns: "The executive in Britain is now more powerful than it probably has been since the time of Walpole."

It highlights the inability of Parliament to demand an inquiry into the Iraq war or to receive details from ministers of the cost of their proposals for national identity cards. The authority of MPs should be bolstered with select committees given more authority, Parliament given greater scope to initiate legislation and curbs placed on the power of party whips.

It envisages a reformed House of Lords, 70 per cent of whose members are elected for up to three terms and 30 per cent appointed by independent commissioners.

The report calls for a transfer of authority downwards from central government to Parliament and from Whitehall to town halls. Town halls should be given greater relevance and accountability by gaining the power to raise taxes locally.

But the inquiry also concludes that reorganising democratic systems is not enough and that voters must be allowed a greater sense that they can make a difference to their everyday lives.

To create a "culture of participation", it calls for all public bodies to have a statutory duty to involve the public.

Citizens should be able to initiate law through petitions, hold inquiries and force a parliamentary debate. Parallel processes could be set up for councils and local bodies. MPs should produce annual reports and hold annual general meetings. The inquiry says: "We believe that it is vital not just to reassert one's faith in democracy, but rethink it to meet new challenges."

The inquiry, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust, was set up in 2004 to explore ways of boosting political participation.

It conducted meetings around the country, conducted polling, took evidence from academics and politicians, and received more than 1,500 submissions from the public.
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article348006.ece


Last edited by Fintan on Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
kawazu



Joined: 06 Feb 2006
Posts: 54
Location: Kansas

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Fintan said,nice marketing,but will any real change come of these proposals?Its nice to hear them talking about changing the political system but I think the only reason this is coming out is because the powers that be cannot just ignore it anymore,so they are attempting to show that they are listening and making an effort to give back the "power to the people".As far as Im concerned it is nothing more than an attempt to change the image of the system,not the substance.Kinda like how your favorite snacks and beverages get new redesigned labels and packaging every once in awhile.You are still going to be eating the same crap.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Next Level Forum Index -> General Discussion All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Theme xand created by spleen.