The MPs expenses scandal and now the Brexit debacle have led to widespread dissatisfaction with parliamentary democracy. When working people wrest power from the capitalist class, building new, direct democratic structures will be part of our efforts to build a socialist future but, until then, what are the reforms we should seeking to our present democratic arrangements? Here are my top ten suggestions:
- Electronic voting for parliamentary and local government elections and national and local referendums.
- True proportional representation. This, of necessity, would include abolition of the House of Lords, chosen by the ultimate non-PR voting system; and while we are about it, let’s do away with monarchy, titles and honours in their entirety.
- Regional parliaments in England in lieu of the Westminster Parliament. These would meet in modern, circular debating chambers with electronic voting. Westminster Hall could be turned into a decent Peoples Palace but the rest of the grotesque Victorian-gothic monstrosity that is the Palace of Westminster can be bulldozed. Northern Ireland would be offered a referendum on either a regional parliament along similar lines or joining the Republic of Ireland. No more direct rule.
- Much, much lower limits on spending on elections and funding of parties, returning campaigning to unpaid activists, with corporate donations banned. Only individuals who can actually vote or their collectives (e.g. trade unions) should be allowed to donate.
- Abolish the Electoral Commission as unfit for purpose and form a truly independent election watchdog.
- Maximum possible delegation of powers to local councils with tax raising powers sufficient to meet 100% of the cost of services for which they are responsible.
- A UK Representative Council of delegates appointed by the regional and national parliaments to decide UK wide issues, interpret the written constitution and agree an annual transfer payments between nations and regions to reflect disparities in revenue raising capacities.
- Members of the regional and national parliaments to be paid the average national wage. No second jobs, no second income, no private incomes or capital, no phony trusts to conceal wealth. If candidates cannot satisfy these stringent conditions, they cannot stand for election.
- Members of regional and national parliaments appointed for no more than two terms of four years each and subject to recall by voters. Being elected a member of these parliaments is an honour and a duty, not a career.
- Press and media, if they are to engage in anything other than strictly factual political reporting, must to be owned by readers/users or, in the case of the BBC, brought under democratic control.
You may disagree with some or all of these suggestions. If so, what would yours be?