Direct democracy is on the way – and Brussels should shake in its bootsPosted on July 7, 2011
The Government has taken the first step towards implementing the Direct Democracy agenda by launching the new e-petitions site, which is a vast improvement on the old Number 10 petition portal. It’s still a relatively small step – 100,000 signatures gets your petition considered for a Parliamentary debate – but it’s the thin end of a positive wedge.
Would the Commons authorities really dare to turn down a petition and tell 100,000 actively engaged voters that their concern doesn’t count? If they do it once it would generate so much anger and bad publicity that I doubt they’d repeat it in a hurry.
Similarly, now that this principle is established I suspect the road to initiatives for referenda will become a lot smoother, and in an few years we may well see the right to get a referendum in return for 1 million signature or something similar. (To say nothing of the right to recall and sack MPs between elections, which would prove extremely popular).
What are the practical implications of this? In essence, direct democracy will break the barriers between the political class and the public, and smash the Westminster system by which some issues are a matter for a “consensus” which is at total odds with the voters. Politicians will have to start agreeing with the people, or face being replaced by others who are more in touch with real concerns in the real world.
These petitions will undoubtedly cover a myriad of issues but the main victim of this will be the EU. Of course we can expect a petition for a debate on leaving the EU – the polls show how popular that is becoming and the clout of the Express should make it quite easy to secure the necessary signature. More effective, though, will be the large petitions on issues in which the EU has a hand.
Votes for prisoners? The Greek bailout? The death penalty for kid killers (which is being championed by Guido)? Bin taxes? Green taxes that freeze grannies to death? Post office closures? The right to deport Philip Lawrence’s killer? On all these and more the opinion of the public is clear, and a petition on the topic would rock not just Westminster’s system of cosy taboos but also the EU, the authority which dictates that Britain must obey such bad and unpopular policies. The fundamental truth that the people never asked for the European Union would be undeniably clear on headline issue after headline issue.
The revolutionaries are at the gate – and the first, small gap has just been opened to let us in.
Tags: Bin taxes, Brussels, Coalition, Conservatives, Daily Express, Death Penalty, Direct Democracy, ePetitions, EU, Euroscepticism, Eurosceptics, Freedom, Green Taxes, Initiative, Learco Chindamo, opinion, Parliament, Philip Lawrence, Politics, Post Office, Recall, Referendum, Westminster