8th July, 2004
Britain has fallen out of love with conventional politics. Could Swiss-style direct democracy end the current crisis of political legitimacy?
Politicians tell us that they are concerned by the declining turnout in elections. They bemoan the failure of contemporary politics to engage the public. They commission reports to find an explanation for this alarming trend. They spend large sums of our own money to persuade us of the importance of voting. But they studiously, even perversely, fail to face up to the crushingly obvious truth: people won’t vote because it’s an outdated, ineffective and crude way of deciding how our affairs are run.
In Britain we’ve had a universal franchise for many decades. When it was first granted, a large majority of the population was uneducated. Many people thought that it was better to leave the complicated matter of running the country to an elite of wise men. After all, if they made a mess of things they could be ejected from office after five years. This was a questionable proposition even in the early 20th Century. Yet that is still how we organise ourselves. Every few years we are expected to give a leasehold on power to a cabal of professional politicians. If we don’t like them we can wait until the next election and bring in another bunch.
Half the UK population now goes...
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