Helena Kennedy: We need to download power - that is what voters want

'Our system allows parties to maintain a monopolistic grip on political power'

Share
Related Topics

The people are not the problem. They are interested in politics. They do care about the bread-and-butter issues that affect their lives; they do care about their communities and neighbourhoods, their country and the world, but they are totally alienated from the political system. We heard it up and down the country - formal democracy is failing the people.

The disenchantment cuts across all sections of society, but the political class just do not get it. They do not realise how deep the alienation runs. A bit of reinvention by the political parties will not be the answer. More fundamental reform is needed if we are to re-establish a democracy fit for a 21st-century People.

Power to the People calls for three essential shifts: more power to the people, more power to parliament and more choice.

There has to be a new emphasis on public engagement in politics. Not only should all public bodies be required to involve citizens in their decision-making processes, but clear processes should exist which allow people to challenge decisions and set the agenda. This is why we recommend the use of a far-reaching Citizen's Initiative, through which people can launch their own local and national referendums, public inquiries and hearings.

The overweening dominance of the executive has to be checked by allowing Parliament the necessary powers to do its job, acting as the eyes, ears and mouth of citizens at the heart of power. We must also revive local government by letting locally elected representatives implement the wishes of local people, not Whitehall. People will only re-engage with formal politics if they can see that their MPs and councillors are people who can really effect change. We have to be honest about the necrosis within the main political parties. Parties have many roles in a democracy, but one of the most crucial is acting as a channel of dialogue between governed and governors. This just does not happen any more. Our evidence is clear: these are unloved organisations which the majority regard as unprincipled, too similar to each other and literally out of touch. Our voting system lets them maintain a monopolistic grip on political power. We need electoral reform that will widen the choice for voters and let new voices and new alliances emerge.

These three shifts, involving 30 recommendations, taken together, will give millions the influence over key policy areas they crave. It will blow open the cosy Westminster consensus that citizens require little more out of democracy than a choice between two broad political programmes once every four years. It will download power, and that is what people want.

Baroness Kennedy is Chair of the Power Inquiry

The Power Commission

* Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws - QC and Labour peer (chair)

* Ferdinant Mount - former head, Downing Street Policy Unit (vice-chair)

* Emma B -- disc jockey, Radio 1

* Paul Boakye - editor, The Drum

* Phil Carey - sports coach

* Philip Dodd - former director, Institute for Contemporary Arts

* Ben Freeman - finance director, Prudential

* Bano Murtuja - chairman, Black and Minority Ethnic Health and Social Care Forum

* Frances O'Grady - TUC

* Barbara Gill - National Federation of Women's Institutes (died last November)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre Scho...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£17900 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic Marketing Assis...

Recruitment Genius: Chef / Managers

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This contract caterer is proud ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, arrives with his son Prince George at the Lindo Wing to visit his wife and newborn daughter at St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, Britain, 02 May 2015  

Prince George's £18,000 birthday gift speaks volumes about Britain's widening wealth inequality

Olivia Acland
Nicky Clarke has criticised the Duchess of Cambridge for having grey hair  

Letting one’s hair turn grey would be the most subversive Royal act

Rosie Millard
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'