Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Parliament that Works - with secret ballots

I see you are concerned and think a lot about the political situation. I think you are quite right about this: ‘I think the main issue is the strangle hold of the major parties in the minds of the electors and in the media. …
The system is a product of evolution over time with a progressive abandonment by the people, because people of power and influence have manipulated the political rules to achieve their own ends. For example, look at the regulations which benefit the powerful:
· All must register to vote. (I’m happy with that, democracy is the public’s responsibility but,
· Voters must fill in all the squares on the voting paper. (This ensures preferences flow away from the candidates with less money etc.
· Parties get public funding, minor players mostly don’t.
· Donations by the powerful to the major parties are good for their business interests.

‘My ideal is strong people in parliament who are willing to state their reasons for the way they vote, and who are strong enough to vote against the party if they have good reason to.’
We all have our wish lists of what we would like in politicians, but would we be any different if in their shoes. I think not.
Why not give them all an automatic free vote. Then they can do what you suggest.

But why don’t the parties set them free in this manner? Very simply, the parties would collapse, without the financial support of their wealthy and influential supporters. Make no mistake, control of the open vote is the key (the chief key) to their power over parliament, and us.
We need a ‘cultural shift’ and certainly the ‘parties and the mainstream media will be against it.’ Naturally. People are angry, and with good reason. But while the public is blind to the reasons why it is so, they don’t really want the trouble and sacrifice of any change. So we will still get ‘the government we deserve’.
‘… no one (person) could be in a position to understand all the issues …’ There needs to be specialisation.’ That’s true but, with a cultural shift from ambition and power to an ethos of public service and honour, are we so bereft of ‘good’ people that it couldn’t happen? And if not a secret ballot parliament could appoint secretaries for technical matters as the President does in the US. And what would be wrong with that if parliament decided to do that. That would be quite feasible.
‘…alternative perspectives’. These too will not be lacking with the parliament and people involve in a new and realistic connection, created by the freedom of the ballot in parliament.
‘ There is no easy way to improve it without many more people taking an interest.’
You are quite right there Robert. I invite people to look long and hard at the secret ballot in parliament. It is simple in principle and will work. It will give us the ‘open public forums for people to voice their concerns’, that democracy demands and include more people in the process of politics.
Even politicians will find a much greater effectiveness and fulfilment.
We can cry for an easy way but there is none.
As to a republic we would certainly need a ‘new model and a new approach.’
Keep up the attack!
To look further at this vital reform, see
Happy hunting!
Basil Smith