Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Leveson Inquiry - there is no way back for representative democracy in its present form.

The Leveson Inquiry, set up to investigate media ethics and journalism practices following the News of The World hacking scandal, has raised an issue that fundamentally undermines the concept of representative democracy in the UK – in its present form.

Prior to the Inquiry, it had become clear that our system of government had little or no democratic content apart from to decide which of the two alternating dictatorships would be in office. Any that might have remained was killed off when Gordon Brown ratified the Lisbon Treaty and placed the UK in political union with the other EU member states.

This act served to underline the then existing democratic deficiency, since, at the time of ratification, polls showed that more than 80% wanted a referendum on whether the Treaty should be ratified and two thirds were against it being signed.

What the Leveson Inquiry has demonstrated is that it is impossible to know whether those standing as candidates at elections are being bribed, corrupted or blackmailed by a rich media mogul [or anyone else for that matter] to insure the candidate, once elected, does their bidding.

Having reached this point, the only certain way to remedy the currently debased system is for the representative to be directly accountable to the people they purport to represent and to provide a system whereby the constituents can sack their representative – if they fail to live up to expectations.

MPs are selected for their well-paid jobs by the constituents and it is their taxes that pays the MP’s salary. It is therefore right and proper that these same people have the right to dismiss them if, over a period of time [6 monthly invervals?] they are dissatisfied with their work. This is how paid employment works in every other circumstance – why not for those who choose a political career?

In last resort, the only valid judgement of an elected representatives actions, whether bribed, corrupted, blackmailed or as pure as the driven snow, is that of those who elected them.

The development of the internet has provided systems that would allow representatives to be publicly questioned by their constituents, their responses debated and for a vote to be taken on whether the representative should retain their post – through an internet forum with a a polling capacity. If the constituents were given the right to question and sack their representative, through this medium, at regular intervals – representatives would be far more concerned about the views of the voters and true democracy would gradually start to replace our existing deeply flawed political system.

The ramifications of such a system are significant. However, whatever the dangers, they are insignificant compared to the dangers inherent in the existing system.

In last resort it is for each political party to decide whether to support such a change – for the current method of seeking improvements to the political system, whether by Inquiry or Committee, can no longer be viewed as unbiased, for it is impossible to know whether those charged with the task are, themselves, the subject of bribery, corruption or blackmail.

Update 23.05.12: The BBC produced an interesting ‘who’s linked to who‘ diagram in September. Perhaps one relationship that has not been examined closely enough, for the purpose of this recommendation, are the work and social links between Lord Leveson and Matthew Freud, who, according to the BBC, has work and social links with both Rupert and James Murdoch.

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