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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform