Get in touch: Bring our ailing democracy back to life

 

Share

If ordinary people are to reclaim politics from the party elites, if they are to reinvigorate British democracy, they need to take action. This is how they – and you – can do so...

If you would like to be involved in our project and participate in developing these ideas, please email the team at democracy2015@independent.co.uk

From your message, we would be grateful to learn:

a. The town or village where you live and the name of your parliamentary constituency. That will help us to plan events and meetings.

b. What you consider to be the government policies that most need redoing. That would help set the agenda for the writing of a manifesto.

c. How you would like to help. That could be either in thinking through issues or in helping to organise the process. The two tasks are equally daunting, and there is much to be done for each – for instance, in chairing meetings, setting up groups, taking notes, contacting and recruiting experts.

d. Whether you would support the principle of making a small contribution from time to time to keep the work going, a maximum of £50.

Our objective is to obtain a majority in the next House of Commons. The members so elected would declare that they intended to serve only one term. While I have described this target in The Independent as "near impossible", as indeed it is, I cannot see the point of aiming at anything less if the intention is to make a difference. The ideas below are correspondingly bold, but for now we need you to express an interest in order to organize local meetings of passionate citizens.

What next? It is easy to point to the failures of the existing system, but what would success look like? Our aspiration is that by the next general election, we will have achieved the following:

1. A group of candidates would have announced easy-to-understand policies for the problems people worry most about, such as unemployment, crime, immigration, care of old people, NHS, welfare reform, Europe.

2. It would have connected with the young and made them an integral part of the campaign.

3. It would have adopted a consultative style in policy making that it would carry through into government.

4. It would have staged primary elections in every constituency, 650 of them, to choose its candidates a year before the general election due to be held on 7 May 2015. This would have enabled its candidates to have spent at least a year working in their constituencies and become well known locally. Constituency primaries would have been big events.

5. It would have found a credible leader and candidates capable of running the departments of state if elected. In other words, it would have become a "Government-in-Waiting".

6. It would have achieved regular coverage in the national media.

7. It would have convincingly attacked the incompetence of the traditional political parties when in government.

If we are to be successful, candidates will have had to come forward by early 2014. How might this happen? It is to be hoped that they would make themselves known spontaneously as a result of participating in the first section of work that starts now and lasts until 2014. This is the drawing up of a full manifesto for government, constructed to the highest standards with the best possible advice. It would need to be a better document than that routinely produced by the political parties. It should be capable of being accepted by civil servants as high-quality work that could be swiftly turned into government policy. At the same time, the same body of work would have to be suitable for forming into a simple document that the electorate would find convincing and reassuring. These are very ambitious requirements, but again it doesn't seems as anything less would do.

This body of work would provide reassurance not only for the electorate but also, in the meantime, for people considering running for election.

It would help to answer the question posed by John Kampfner in an article on the crisis in public life that he recently wrote for the Financial Times. He said: "The current crop of MPs is drawn from a narrow social and professional background: think-tanks, political advisers and journalism. If more elected representatives had spent years as, say, brain surgeons, entrepreneurs or teachers, a calmer atmosphere might have prevailed. But why would a brain surgeon wish to enter such a tarnished fray?"

The plans described here are an attempt to answer that question.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours, Andreas Whittam Smith and the Democracy2015 Team

To find out more, go to independent.co.uk/democracy2015

 

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Technician

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...

Recruitment Genius: Contact Centre Team Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is the UK's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Shunter / HGV Driver

£23172 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest growing h...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager / Estate Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an experienced Resident...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Greek Yes voters were so shy they didn’t even turn up to the polling stations

John Rentoul
epa04832814 Supporters of the 'No' campaign wave flags and react after the first results of the referendum at Syntagma Square, in Athens, Greece, 05 July 2015. Greek voters in the referendum were asked whether the country should accept reform proposals made by its creditors. 10367444  

Greek referendum: As Greece spirals towards disaster, a new era of extremist politics begins

Daphne Halikiopoulou
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate