"Peoples Jury" to restore faith in democracy

#1
The Independent said:
Call for people's jury on reform to restore faith in democracy
By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
Published: 22 January 2007

A campaign to remove "the stench of money and patronage" from politics after the "cash for peerages" affair will be launched today.

The Power Commission, which made sweeping proposals to revive Britain's ailing democracy, is relaunching its drive amid signs that the gulf between the politicians and public has widened since it published its report almost a year ago.

The new campaign ( http://www.makeitanissue.org.uk ) will call for a randomly-selected group of ordinary people to make binding decisions on parliamentary reforms to restore trust in politics - including a new system of financing.

The Independent's Campaign for Democracy, launched after Labour won a majority of 67 Commons seats with only 35 per cent of the votes cast in 2005, won the backing of almost 40,000 people.

Gordon Brown is expected to outline constitutional reforms this summer if he becomes Prime Minister and yesterday his allies welcomed the new push. An ICM poll for the commission found that Mr Brown (31 per cent) is more trusted to change the way democracy works than David Cameron (29 per cent). But one in five people does not trust any political leader on the issue.

The survey found that only 8 per cent of people believe their vote makes a great deal of difference to decisions by Westminster politicians, 13 per cent said a "fair amount", 30 per cent a "little" while 46 per cent thought it made virtually no difference. Seven out of 10 people felt that a citizen's jury should decide reforms to party funding and the House of Lords.

Helena Kennedy, the Labour peer who chairs the commission, said: "British politics is in crisis. Renewing our democracy cannot be left to the political class who will fix the rules in their own interest. With political leaders we have the best opportunity in a decade to force change." Baroness Kennedy told GMTV's Sunday programme that it was "significantly distasteful" that it seemed possible to "buy your way" into Parliament.

It was reported yesterday that Ruth Turner, Tony Blair's director of government relations, was arrested on Friday after detectives hacked into Downing Street computers to access e-mail records following a tip-off by a No 10 mole.
 
#3
Peoples Jury? Sounds very DDR!
 
#4
Peoples Jury sounds like a bunch of sh1t. A far better idea is if our representatives want to put something through parliament for a vote, they should do it online instead. This way, WE all get to vote on it, not the politicians.

The great unwashed could be the House of Lords and the Parliamentarians instead.

For example, if they want to increase taxes, they have to publish their intent online, explain why, show the accounts and then WE decide whether they can or not.

Want to provide devolution for Scotland? Put the question online and allow the People of Scotland to have the final say.

Want to go to war in Iraq . . .

Want to cut spending on the Armed forces . . .
 
#5
Giblets

That seems to sum it up quite well and that's the way I read it. Is somebody preparing for AM 1 APR?

This looks like a recipe for allowing Democracy to destroy itself. Forgive me for any implied arrogance but the great mass of people out there don't really want responsibility for their daily lives, let alone the affairs of the Country! It would certainly increase the power of the Media to mould unformed (and largely, uninformed) minds.

Just when the World starts looking unsafe!
 
#6
A small point,

Isn't every MP supposed to be our "peoples Jury". They are there because we voted them there. Tony sits because those nice people in sedgefield voted for him and we voted in the rest of the party.

Surely the way to sort it out is to Stand for MP yourself (Where every you are) and then start shouting where you can be heard!

rather simplistic view, granted, but it is (supposidly) our country!
 
#7
What a load of sh1t.

I always thought that the greatest advantage of the hereditary Lords was that it was a 'randomly-selected group of ordinary people' their only common characteristic - that they had successful ancestors. Yet neu-labour got rid of them because they were unelected and occasionally disagreed with his Tonyship.
 
#8
PassingBells

Interfering with the House of Lords also appealed to old Labour as it, allegedly, progressed the People's cause for a classless society. I think many of us call it petty sour grapes and peevishness. A great strength of the Lords is the very fact that they are unelected. They were selected either by birthright (thus having an interest in stability and heritage) or proven merit and expertise. They could act in the National interest and not risk being voted out by aggrieved self interest. Of course a Peer could act out of self interest but it would be totally blatant and probably not worth the risk.

Why does this Government seem Hell bent on tinkering with and breaking things that work? Of course institutions evolve but cautiously and over time.
 
#9
Passed-over_Loggie said:
PassingBells

Interfering with the House of Lords also appealed to old Labour as it, allegedly, progressed the People's cause for a classless society. I think many of us call it petty sour grapes and peevishness. A great strength of the Lords is the very fact that they are unelected. They were selected either by birthright (thus having an interest in stability and heritage) or proven merit and expertise. They could act in the National interest and not risk being voted out by aggrieved self interest. Of course a Peer could act out of self interest but it would be totally blatant and probably not worth the risk.

Why does this Government seem Hell bent on tinkering with and breaking things that work? Of course institutions evolve but cautiously and over time.
You sir, are preaching to the converted.
 
#10
Giblets said:
Peoples Jury sounds like a bunch of sh1t. A far better idea is if our representatives want to put something through parliament for a vote, they should do it online instead. This way, WE all get to vote on it, not the politicians.

The great unwashed could be the House of Lords and the Parliamentarians instead.

For example, if they want to increase taxes, they have to publish their intent online, explain why, show the accounts and then WE decide whether they can or not.

Want to provide devolution for Scotland? Put the question online and allow the People of Scotland to have the final say.

Want to go to war in Iraq . . .

Want to cut spending on the Armed forces . . .
"I have only one word to say to you Benjamin...Diebold."
 
#11
Why the hell do people like this and Bliar keep feeling the need to adding the word people's in front of every idiotic scheme they dream up? It's not as though it fools anyone any more about it being more democratic or representative. Personally it just puts my teeth on edge and and makes me highly sceptical of whatever it is right from the get go.
 

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#12
And just who would select this "people's jury"?
 
#13
This country has never been a democracy but it had at least the merits of being a fairly open ended oligarchy. Now it seems to be turning into something less meritocratic and far less worthy.
 
#14
Passed-over_Loggie said:
PassingBells

Interfering with the House of Lords also appealed to old Labour as it, allegedly, progressed the People's cause for a classless society. I think many of us call it petty sour grapes and peevishness. A great strength of the Lords is the very fact that they are unelected. They were selected either by birthright (thus having an interest in stability and heritage) or proven merit and expertise. They could act in the National interest and not risk being voted out by aggrieved self interest. Of course a Peer could act out of self interest but it would be totally blatant and probably not worth the risk.

Why does this Government seem Hell bent on tinkering with and breaking things that work? Of course institutions evolve but cautiously and over time.
Agreed.

A solution that occurred to me was that seats in the House of Lords be filled by picking people in the same way that they are picked for Jury service. Granted you'd get some idiots but that doesn't stop the commons. People who were picked would get a decent salary and have to serve for say, 7 years. It would need to be a period different in length to the commons so that there was crossover at general elections.
 
#15
[quote="EX_STAB] It would need to be a period different in length to the commons so that there was crossover at general elections.[/quote]
There is one of the most critical points about Lords reform - the cycle of elections. All of the alternatives voted on by the Commons over recent years have combined elections to the Lord with General Elections.

I would suspect that this would give skewed results in favour of the largest part in the lower House, thus enably them to get their legislation through the upper House. Of course, this would suit both parties so they are in favour of it.

The downside of differing cycls is that there might be legislative deadlock between the Houses with the government of the day being unable to pass legislation. However, given that much of the new law passed us such interfering shite this is prabably a good thing.

For myself the Lords full of hereditories was like so much of our unwritten constitution. It might not have been entirely logical, but it worked. I can't see that the half-baked "reform" has improved thing
 
#16
EX_STAB said:
Passed-over_Loggie said:
PassingBells

Interfering with the House of Lords also appealed to old Labour as it, allegedly, progressed the People's cause for a classless society. I think many of us call it petty sour grapes and peevishness. A great strength of the Lords is the very fact that they are unelected. They were selected either by birthright (thus having an interest in stability and heritage) or proven merit and expertise. They could act in the National interest and not risk being voted out by aggrieved self interest. Of course a Peer could act out of self interest but it would be totally blatant and probably not worth the risk.

Why does this Government seem Hell bent on tinkering with and breaking things that work? Of course institutions evolve but cautiously and over time.
Agreed.

A solution that occurred to me was that seats in the House of Lords be filled by picking people in the same way that they are picked for Jury service. Granted you'd get some idiots but that doesn't stop the commons. People who were picked would get a decent salary and have to serve for say, 7 years. It would need to be a period different in length to the commons so that there was crossover at general elections.
An interesting idea. 7 years is too long though. Every 6 months maybe?

I wonder what happens if you get a Jade Goodie though. Maybe some complicated mechanism, such as a door knob to keep them out.

PB
 
#17
PassingBells said:
EX_STAB said:
Passed-over_Loggie said:
PassingBells

Interfering with the House of Lords also appealed to old Labour as it, allegedly, progressed the People's cause for a classless society. I think many of us call it petty sour grapes and peevishness. A great strength of the Lords is the very fact that they are unelected. They were selected either by birthright (thus having an interest in stability and heritage) or proven merit and expertise. They could act in the National interest and not risk being voted out by aggrieved self interest. Of course a Peer could act out of self interest but it would be totally blatant and probably not worth the risk.

Why does this Government seem Hell bent on tinkering with and breaking things that work? Of course institutions evolve but cautiously and over time.
Agreed.

A solution that occurred to me was that seats in the House of Lords be filled by picking people in the same way that they are picked for Jury service. Granted you'd get some idiots but that doesn't stop the commons. People who were picked would get a decent salary and have to serve for say, 7 years. It would need to be a period different in length to the commons so that there was crossover at general elections.
An interesting idea. 7 years is too long though. Every 6 months maybe?

I wonder what happens if you get a Jade Goodie though. Maybe some complicated mechanism, such as a door knob to keep them out.

PB
So every six months we need to find a few hundred people, train them, have to restart select committees etc - get a grip.

I would suggest a second house, elected every fours (would fall 2 years after the general election) from either different industries or different regions on a proportionally representative basis. Acts as a balance to the first past the post elected upper house Parliament and keep the representatives in the Commons on their toes meaning that if they go against the public majority they will lose their elected reps in the second house.

I see your point about the House of Lords who do not have to worry about being elected but it leaves a sour taste of classism and flies in the face of democracy.

I would much prefer to leave our judiciary unelected and establish a second part to the House of Lords to rule on constitutional matters.

All of this would hopefully require a written constitution which would once and for all make our dear leaders accountable for their actions in a much better way than we have at the moment.
 
#18
jest265 said:
...
So every six months we need to find a few hundred people, train them, have to restart select committees etc - get a grip.

I would suggest a second house, elected every fours (would fall 2 years after the general election) from either different industries or different regions on a proportionally representative basis. Acts as a balance to the first past the post elected upper house Parliament and keep the representatives in the Commons on their toes meaning that if they go against the public majority they will lose their elected reps in the second house.

I see your point about the House of Lords who do not have to worry about being elected but it leaves a sour taste of classism and flies in the face of democracy.

I would much prefer to leave our judiciary unelected and establish a second part to the House of Lords to rule on constitutional matters.

All of this would hopefully require a written constitution which would once and for all make our dear leaders accountable for their actions in a much better way than we have at the moment.
I take your point about select committees, but still think that anything more than 6 months would be unworkable.

If we are talking about an arbitarily selected second chamber, then you will be taking people away from their jobs and careers for a significant amount of time. We have all seen issues with TA mobilisation and people being taken from their jobs, and they 'choose' to.

I am opposed to an elected second chamber, simply because any form of election will rapidly politicise. IMHO, the purpose of the second chamber it to criticise and improve legislation proposed by the first chamber. One of the benefits of the old Lords was that it was inherently conservative (small 'C') and given the huge wealth of knowledge and experience in the ranks they were able to comment on the likely impact of a proposed bill. An elected second chamber would be much more radical, and given their elected status would probably demand greater authority in the running of government.

I also don't like constitutions. You end up, as in America, with people saying "you must do such and such, because it's written in the constitution" and debating the "intent of the founding fathers n years ago". You should do something because it's right or wrong on its own merits, not because it's set in stone.

A bit on a ramble I'm afraid, but I hope that you can make sense of it.

PB
 
#19
How do you make those in an unelected second chamber accountable? They are not worried about reelection and will be leaving 6 months later so don't really care what they get through. You also lose the stability of the second house because they are constantly changing, what happens when a bill is on its 2nd reading and they have to change, parliamentary processes take a long time if you want them done properly.

This option would just produce a constant stalemate, will lack any stability or predictability and to be quite honest is one of the least thought out ideas I have heard for the second chamber of Parliament. Say each person chosen wanted to introduce new bills that got rid of one that happened in the previous 6 months.

Also how do you choose these people and how do you make sure it is representative of the different political values, ideas and cultures of the UK?

Re the constitution, we do have one, a country cannot operate without one. The problem we face is that it is not written in a single document and it is usually up to academics and politicians to decide what is constitutional. It also means that bliar and co can do whatever they want and just say that it was constiututional relying on the writing of a different academic.
 
#20
jest265 said:
How do you make those in an unelected second chamber accountable? They are not worried about reelection and will be leaving 6 months later so don't really care what they get through. You also lose the stability of the second house because they are constantly changing, what happens when a bill is on its 2nd reading and they have to change, parliamentary processes take a long time if you want them done properly.

This option would just produce a constant stalemate, will lack any stability or predictability and to be quite honest is one of the least thought out ideas I have heard for the second chamber of Parliament. Say each person chosen wanted to introduce new bills that got rid of one that happened in the previous 6 months.

Also how do you choose these people and how do you make sure it is representative of the different political values, ideas and cultures of the UK?

Re the constitution, we do have one, a country cannot operate without one. The problem we face is that it is not written in a single document and it is usually up to academics and politicians to decide what is constitutional. It also means that bliar and co can do whatever they want and just say that it was constiututional relying on the writing of a different academic.
We have a jury system that seems to work without the jury being directly elected, or accountable or necessarily representative of the different political values ideas and culture iof the UK. It's very nature is that it is random. You could use a similar approach for appointing the second house.

Also, as I understand it, the upper house does not propose legislation, its purpose is to comment and improve on legislation proposed by the lower. If I am right in saying that, then your concern about a plethora of new bills need not apply.

As regarding timing, surely not beyond the whit of man. A couple of suggestions off the top of my head:
1. A rolling changeover of members of the second house in order to maintain continuity.
2. Handover arranged around the parliamentary sessions would seem logical.
I am sure that someone more conversant with the legislative process could improve on them.

My error regarding the constitution. I should have referred to "written constitution". I still prefer the flexibility of the unwritten constiution to the clarity of a written one.

I am not suggesting that this would be a perfect system, but I cannot think of one that is, but I would not dismiss it out of hand, it has some interesting aspects. Not least a real government of the people, by the people and for the people.

PB
 

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