Andrew Cadman: We need direct democracy, Swiss-style

So the Swiss are to have a referendum on banning the burqa. Meanwhile, in Britain we are obsessed with the sexual assault of women. Not the seemingly endless horrific sexual assaults associated with the Religion of Peace, you understand, but those on Hollywood A-listers by a single nasty individual few had heard of until five minutes ago.

To say our politics is moribund is an understatement. As the commentator Douglas Murray says, our elites are willing to discuss only secondary issues. Europe? Islam? Immigration? Demography? Just kick that can as far as possible, please.

Moreover, when forcibly handed a primary concern to deal with – Brexit – politicians have by and large shrunk from the challenge, acting with petulance, arrogance and immaturity; treating the issue, as they so often do, like their own private Game of Thrones as they jostle for advantage. Government and Parliament have turned what should be a galvanising time of national renewal into an uninspiring, technocratic farce.

Why is our system of government so anti-intellectual, anti-innovation and unresponsive? Part of the reason is the two-party duopoly. In any large organisation, creating a culture of innovation is extremely hard. Truly disruptive thinking is quickly smothered by professional jealousies, turf wars, inertia and fear for existing careers and functions. Instead, promotion and recognition often go to the cautious, competent and conventional, and, of course, the politically savvy careerists who make sure they are never around when the solids hit the air conditioning. It is the same in politics: backbench MPs often show an interest in new ideas but are largely ignored, whereas people such as Theresa May become Prime Minister.

Furthermore, by the time they get into positions of high seniority career politicians have spent many years at the coalface and lost touch with society. The sheer daily grind of high office also dulls even the finest of minds. Original thinking requires time for mental relaxation, reflection and lots of it, thus serious thinking tends to be done only in opposition. After only a few years in power, even the best administrations atrophy and enter an intellectual death spiral. Cut off, drifting and bereft of ideas, politicians fall back on the time-dishonoured – and highly socially destructive – technique of appealing to niche target demographics, the present Tory administration being a particularly dismal example. Perhaps in consequence a fractured, politically correct society is the natural end state of a representative democratic system. Judging by the state of Western societies, it would certainly seem so.

What representative democracy needs is competition, and this is where the Swiss system of direct democracy based on citizen petitions (and mandatory for constitutional changes) excels. It runs in parallel to the representative legislature but with strengths of nimbleness, innovation and high sensitivity to voter needs. It also decouples the formulation of policy from those whose careers depend on implementing it: ideas can be thought through, discussed, refined, disseminated and finally decided upon by an engaged electorate with the time and energy to do so rather than career politicians with little time and personally much to lose. It is especially attractive in the internet age where coalitions of interests and mass campaigns can be easily formed and dissolved as the situation requires.



In a British context, we can envisage a Parliament elected as it is now, petition-triggered referenda that are interpreted and enacted by Parliament plus a binding right of Parliamentary recall, also triggered by referendum. Faced with such a Sword of Damocles, politicians will become much more responsive to public concerns. As in Switzerland, the people will ultimately make the big decisions, the politicians the small ones. The role of the executive and political parties will be diminished, but arguably not the role of MPs.

Finally, a word to those social conservatives who fear such a radical change would be un-British and un-conservative. Purely representative democracies throughout the West have become the enemy of social conservatism. Perhaps somewhat to our own surprise, the Brexit referendum showed that there is a morally acceptable democratic alternative, and that the people are capable of making decisions that are more far-sighted, more principled and considerably braver than the politicians.

Switzerland, of course, will never need a Brexit, because its people had the power to choose on EU membership and were wise enough to reject it. Unlike Britain, every big issue can be confronted before it becomes a national crisis. We may feel uneasy about unleashing populist passions that can decide whether or not to ban the burqa, but then you don’t associate Zurich with abominations such as Rotherham.

Andrew Cadman

  • disqus_N9Jawtu8Uw

    Brexit is a case in point.

    In Switzerland people argue for and against an issue BEFORE the referendum. They then RESPECT how people vote after the referendum. I have been completely stunned by how childish and abusive British people have been to each other simply based upon how you/they voted. Both sides have been utterly abusive to each other after the vote.

    The funny side is that Bremainers have complained that intellectual people would have voted Bremain …. and yet the truth is that actual INTELLECTUAL people would have persuaded others BEFORE the vote which shows how completely stupid the Bremainers were.

    • blingmun

      The vast majority of ordinary voters accept the outcome of the referendum just like they accept election results. It is only the political elites and chattering classes — a minority of probably 500,000 noisy influential people — who have kept the issue simmering away all this time. They are clinging to the old system whereby the majority opinion of the elites holds sway over the majority opinion of everyone else (e.g. death penalty, military intervention, EU, environmentalism, smoking bans etc.). I am optimistic this reactionary behaviour would die out fairly quickly if the reforms suggested above were made law because they would be forced to conform to the new reality.

    • lizmilton

      Agree 100%…it was interesting that the sovereignty of Parliament only became important to certain MP’s after the Referendum result…until then ,they had been happy to hand over to Brussels complete control of 43 areas we would normally expect the government to control…see

      “UK Parliament comes to an effective end.”

      Plus we need to take into account the “Big Society “ idea and how firmly entrenched that is to turn us into a Marxist state…see the free ebook on UN Agenda 21 on

      Ukcolumn.org

      And their articles on Common Purpose and the Parliament of Mayors…

    • chuckynut

      You first paragraph is spot on, a civil debate before the referendum allows the result to be respected.

      Unfortunately after saying you were stunned by childish and abusive behaviour you then call people ‘completely stupid’, I’d respectfully suggest that this is an example of the behaviour you complain of.

      • disqus_N9Jawtu8Uw

        One is at the time of the event …. my comment is a long time afterwards and in response to the comments made.

        • chuckynut

          oh fine then, insult away. It’s just not helpful or nice.

  • ReefKnot

    Swiss style ? Maybe, but sounds good to me. We could have referenda to decide policy, elect an executive to carry out that policy ( regardless of their own views ) and then elect MPs to hold the executive to account.
    End of political parties, start of direct democracy.

    • lizmilton

      …Which UN Agenda 21 is opposed to…few people seem to know their key objectives…

      “An end to national Parliaments
      An end to western democracy “ etc etc

      See their free ebook on
      Ukcolumn.org

  • Glass 9/10 empty

    “Why is our system of government so anti-intellectual, anti-innovation and unresponsive?” Because most MPs are simply not up to it and could never secure a real job earning £70k + p.a. anywhere else. If fact, many have never had a real job which should be a minimum prerequisite for any aspiring MP.

    • Colkitto03

      Well said!

    • Andy

      The rise of the professional politician is a huge problem. Also they sit too long. Why on earth are the devolved assemblies full time bodies ? What do they do all day ? And I see no reason why Parliament cannot sit from 2pm onwards as it once did.

      • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Of course, he called them jugglers, wh0remasters, drunkards and swindlers too…Not much has changed since 1653, has it?
        Of course, he called them jugglers, wh0remasters, drunkards and swindlers too…Not much has changed since 1653, has it?

  • TheRightToArmBears

    Just cut to the chase –
    Petition to walk away from the EU –
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200165

  • CitymanMichael

    All Andrew says is correct – the challenge is how to change the system for the better. The core problem is that politicians in western democracies will do almost anything to hold on to power & that means both being afraid to challenge issues and also steal money from our grandchildren in order to buy votes.
    Unfortunately, the only answer is to limit, constitutionally, their time in office & that isn’t going to happen. So we must spread the word and only vote for the few conviction politicians around.

    • lizmilton

      Worth reading “ Down the memory hole goes the truth.”

    • grumpyashell

      Correct in every detail…..turkeys would not vote for Christmas.
      They have got their power and do not want relinquish it,a report is out today about changing the boundaries of the constituencies to bring them down to 600 from 650…will they vote for the change…not bloody likely as it would mean fewer jobs for them.
      They have also given themselves back up jobs,as if Brexit does happen that road to enrichment would close,these are now new regional authorities and mayors. Another level of political engrandisment and bureaucracy which we pay for and will slow down growth
      We could get rid of whole ministries,departments of government,quangos and alike and never see the difference to our daily lives…there has to be change but when and what will be the catalyst

    • a misplaced modifier

      ‘Belling the cat’ is an excellent idea; the trouble is, as always, how it can be done. In two words — it can’t,

  • Harley Quin

    I quite agree that we need a Swiss – style system of referenda in this country.

    Political parties come to the electorate with package deals. One may vote for a package but one may then be saddled with a policy or policies which one detests.

    Why vote for the package then? One may have little choice. The alternatives may, and usually do, have packages with policies which one detests even more.

    The lack of alternatives and absence of choice is especially the case where ‘the liberal consensus’ prevails and all significant parties have the same line on a given policy.

    Referenda would also serve serve to put a stop to an elected government’s abuse of power.

    We have seen political parties lie their way into power by concealing or disguising their true intentions and, once there, proceed to enforce policies which would never have been voted for had the population been really aware of what was being covertly planned for them. This was the case with New Labour’s mass immigration plot.

    Why should the electorate have to put up with behaviour which, if perpetrated by Company Directors would see them behind bars as fraudsters?

    • lizmilton

      Agree100%… But not just the Labour Party…

      Don,t forget how Major forced through the Maastricht Treaty…known as the Unseen Treaty, as so few copies were for MP’s to scrutinise…see “TreAson at Masstricht”

      True, the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty did not materialise…
      Worth researching is how the Cabinet Office conspired to ensure MP’s did not have the opportunity to scrutinise the 3000 pages of the Lisbon Treaty, so they relied on the Whips and voted as they were told…

      Was it really beyond the wit of the Conservatives to organise for each MP to scrutinise the clauses on a few pages, so a proper debate could have taken place ?

      The Conservatives have, for years, been just as guilty as the Labour Party of ensuring we are tied into the EU…

      Remember May’s speeches at Conference, as HS promising to bring down Immigration…going back to her office and dishing out hundreds of thousands of passports to people with no ties to the UK…see “Britain’s great immigration disaster “ by Gavin Cooke…on Amazon, if they haven’t added it to their list of banned books yet…

      • Reborn

        Labour Remainers
        .Unpleasant fools who hate the UK & think we can be better run by a bunch of unelected foreigners.
        Tory Remainers.
        Very wealthy persons who don’t care who runs the UK as long as their wealth is
        increased by membership of the Fourth Reich.

  • chuckynut

    Quite a leap to get from the Weinstein story to the need for more direct direct democracy. Weinstein is an important story, it is an example of elites closing ranks to protect their own just as Rotherham was. What evidence do you have that that this is less common in Switzerland than the UK? None I suspect.

    • Rhoda Klapp

      They always cover up. Any country, any organisation be it Church, BBC, libdems, Hollywood, me and probably you, anyone. They always cover up, and the moral root of the decision to do so is if they can possibly get away with it.

      • chuckynut

        indeed, which is why I think to make the link was daft

    • Andrew Tekle-Cadman

      Ever heard of Jihadi bombings, mass sex assaults in Switzerland? Me neither – and that is because the elites there know they can not impose deeply unpopular policies like mass 3rd world immigration and get away with it for very long.

      Throughout most of the Western world the elites impose radical, unasked for change in society but deflect debate onto issues of secondary importance.

  • ale bro

    Referendums have been very successful as legislative instruments in many countries. The key to making them successful is that the consequences of a yes vote are always clearly spelled out, i.e. the specific legislation being voted on is already worded and ready to be passed.

    This obviously did not happen in the brexit referendum – the electorate was never presented with anything clear to vote on,e.g. the wording of an EU exit bill, and now we have the damaging spectacle of politicians trying to guess what the brexit vote really means.

    • Andy

      But the alternative not being a member of the European Union is not being one, as most of the world isn’t. What was not properly discussed was the way the EU constantly morphs into something else, so we were not voting to remain where we were.

      • ale bro

        there’s a lot of different ways of implementing an EU exit – a correctly framed referendum question would have set out exactly what legislation would be enacted by a yes vote.

        But the tories were so convinced that remain would win that they didn’t bother to consider and plan for the implications of a leave vote.

        • Little Black Censored

          The very simplicity of the words on the voting paper entailed that by voting to leave we should be entrusting the process to the Government. Voters were not so stupid that they could not see this.

          • ale bro

            voters entrusted the process to david cameron who then quit government like a spoiled child. now every cabinet minister thinks they have tabula rasa and so are free to make up their own definition of brexit.

            the ridiculousness of the rudderless ship that is the current parliament and government would have been avoided with a tiny bit of forward planning.

  • Thomas Wood

    The defect lies with a whole (and very important) class in society. If there was anybody within our ruling class (the ‘elites’) to show genuine leadership and with an eye to the common good, we would not need to be asking fundamental questions about our constitution. That’s a profound social problem that I do not think can be so easily fixed.

    • As I recently typed – if we had proper conservative MPs to vote for we would not need to be questioning the system. The Political Class are not about to to change the game when they are winning.

      • Servant of Mary

        Liberty is secured by the vigilance of patriots, not by legalistic tinkering.

        • Mr Cadman (and many others in UKIP it seems) believe in changing the rules because you are losing. Wrongheaded because firstly the Political Class won’t allow it.

          If electorate could peel themselves away from TVs and stroking the shiny slabs of glass in the palms of their hands, and take even a rudimentary interest in politics we would not be discussing this. Funny how radical liberal ideas are entertained on a conservative blog.

          • Servant of Mary

            Hard to take an interest, when you have no representation, and no alternative is offered. Is the Conservative party beyond redemption? Probably. In any case, the ‘Tory’ brand alienates many disengaged natural social conservatives in Labour heartlands, who would not get behind a Tory revival even if it happened.

            We need a small ‘c’ conservative party that unites as many of our natural allies as possible.

            To say that the problem won’t be fixed by legislating for it, is not to say that radical reform should be off the table.

            Personally, I think we ought to think seriously about land reform, for one thing. But that won’t happen in, if the conservative party remains (at least in perception) the party of the narrow interests of the property-rich (NB I consider myself in that bracket). What will happen, eventually, is a vicious lashing out, led by the agitators of one class against another.

            Another thing we ought to think about is the constitution, and reaffirming our ancient liberties.

            It’s one thing to glory in the uniqueness of Britain’s unwritten constitution, but since no-one seems to be held to account under it, we might consider slumming it with a written one.

          • You know, the best examples are all based on English law, so it might not be a bad idea.

          • Servant of Mary

            Precisely.

            It is never sufficient to be *merely* conservative.

            We need to be conservative about what remains to us that is good, and get radical about the rot. Ditto future-proofing any acceptable settlement reach, which requires learning from past mistakes and, if need be, getting radical there too.

          • Reborn

            Including the excellent US Constitution which lifted whole paragraphs
            from the Bill of Rights 1689. Plus elements of Magna Carta.
            Typically Cameron made much of Magna Carta celebrations on some centenary while celebrating the EU Arrest Warrant which specifically goes against many key elements of Magna Carta.

          • And here you hit the key point of why I, and many other Americans, here, and on other sites, rather loudly supported Brexit. Our freedoms, which we guard so jealously, came from the Creator, via the Common Law, and England.

            Europe is free only in such measure as they copied England, and America. But they simply don’t understand the responsibilities that go with it. And so they will again lose their freedom. But I still think, “England shall be free”. If you make it so. Is it a hard road? Yes, yes it is, things worth having always are.

            You guys got a bit complacent, I think (so did we). It strikes me as interesting that when Magna Charta was displayed at the 1939 New York world’s fair, HMG government was amazed at the long, long lines to see a document that very few Americans could read, but knew why it is important. That copy, privately owned, after spending the war in Fort Knox, is on permanent loan to our National Archives, where it is displayed with the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They are collectively known as the Charters of Freedom.

  • mark taha

    I believe in holding referendums on the same day as the annual local elections-one third of MPs nationally or Councillors locally to be able to call one but each only help call one a year.Also, one third of the MPs for England,Scotland,Wales or Northern Ireland should be able to call a referendum on secession from the UK.

    • Won’t work, we have them in most states, and usually you’re in the booth trying to figure out what the bloody lawyer was trying to say, it usually ends up as “Up=Down”. A dartboard is more efficacious.

  • Nick Smegg

    I think you will find that the moral cesspit that is Hollywood goes far beyond that of a single, nasty individual.

    • Harley Quin

      I agree, ‘The Godfather’ was published in the 1960’s. In it is a passage about a Hollywood Producer who casting couch was reserved for ever younger girls.

      The Jimmy Savile scandal at the BBC was only the tip of an enormous iceberg in all likelihood, in my opinion.

      What he was like was probably common knowledge as these things are. The protestations of those who claimed not to know about them simply didn’t ring true so far as I am concerned,

      • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        “The protestations of those who claimed not to know about them simply didn’t ring true so far as I am concerned….”

        Has all the odour of Capitaine Renault: “I’m shocked– SHOCKED!”, that gambling is taking place in a casino.

        • Indeed it does. From what I’m seeing it’s going to spread, probably first to music (already rumblings) and I suspect to Hollywood on the Potomac as well. Stay tuned.

          • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            “Politics is ‘Showbiz for ugly people’,” (apocryphal saying), and ugliness can come in many varieties.

          • Concur.

  • Andrew Edmonds

    Well said, from another data scientist. Why is it that engineers are completely unrepresented in politics? You’d think that the people who spend their lives creating the complex structures of technology would be perfect to guide us pragmatically and efficiently, but no, we’re always stuck with people from the humanities…

    • KilowattTyler

      There is a false equivalence between degrees in different subjects.
      It is quite simply nonsense to regard (for example) a BA in English as equivalent to a BSc in Physics. It is not merely that the subject matter studied is different – the workload is different, the skills set is different, the methods of enquiry are different. For intellectual giants in HR, however, unless there are specific reasons for recruiting someone with a specialist degree, a graduate is just a graduate. It is possible that someone with a rigorous scientific education could actually be at a disadvantage in interviews – they might be rather introverted and careful, and lose out to a flashier, mouthier Arts graduate loudly spouting standard PC views. It is also rather likely that someone with a fairly mediocre degree in, say, IT or Chemistry will have better logical reasoning skills than someone with a First in History or English.

      We desperately need more people in the corridors of power who are numerate, not just in the sense of being competent in maths but aware that the truth or falsity or arguments often depends on *quantity* (immigration is a case in point). It would also be useful to have more people in influential positions who understand dynamic systems, who know for example what ‘exponential growth’ and the ‘combinatorial explosion’ are (this last if more widely appreciated would avoid some of the complexities generated by bad legislation and bureaucracy).

      • Andrew Edmonds

        It was a bit of a rhetorical question, really. The answer is that engineers tend to be introverted, and to get on in politics , finance, business, you need to be an extrovert.
        I have seen many business relationships where an extrovert partners a brilliant introvert. Guess who always gets all the money and prestige? One dimension of our effective political oligarchy in the UK is that there are no introverts in parliament.
        Direct democracy gives introverts a role in politics they will never otherwise choose to take.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    The people who would have to allow us to have referenda have too much to lose. They were forced to give us one and they don’t like the result. They despise us.

  • You are never going to get a ‘Swiss Style’ referendum under the current political set up so it’s a dream. The political class would not allow it.

    The problem we have is a lack of a conservative party that is conservative. That is why this blog was started and why most of us are here. We would not be wishing for foreign voting systems if our own was misused by a complacent public. A public who have continuously voted for the same parties each election with the belief that they will get something different. Its the people not the system that is the problem. Referendums are incompatible with our current parliamentary system as shown by ‘Brexit’.

    The idea of conservatism is to preserve what we had or restore it, not to change it. We need to find ways of bringing conservatism back to politics – not wasting time folding napkins on the Hindenburg.

    • Servant of Mary

      A majority of voters for “none of the above”, though, many of whom just don’t see the point in voting at all. Failure in leadership results in voter apathy, for my money.

      The old order is dying, and the new is not yet ready to be born.

      We need a new party. This blog could be the germ of it.

      • If you are voting for none of the above, there is no point to voting. If you can find at least the lesser evil, then you have a start.

        • Servant of Mary

          Both main parties trade on being the lesser of two evils.

          That’s what keeps them in business.

        • An Sionnach Dubh

          Were it not actually against electoral law (as I understand it) to have a ‘none of the above’ on the ballot paper, I can see considerable benefit to it, in that the election should then be re-run with the previous candidates disbarred. The process should repeat until an electable candidate is found. It would at least ginger up the candidates to get their names around.

          Mind you, I’d personally also like to see party names removed from the ballot papers – if a candidate is too idle to get known in the constituency they don’t deserve to receive votes.

          • I like that idea! Removing the parties sounds good, but really makes little difference. In Nebraska they aren’t on the ballot. Our supposedly nonpartisan Unicameral is just as bad as anybody else’s traditional one. As long as the incumbent is the top of the list, barring something dreadful, he will usually win. Mind, the Unicameral is a bit cheaper, since we have only senators, and no representatives. George Norris was a fool, good intentions, but a fool.

    • Andrew Tekle-Cadman

      I disagree with your definition of conservatism, personally, because it suggests that there can be no progress beyond what has gone before.

      I think conservatives should look to make change evolutionary as possible – that is preserving and building on the past, not utterly destroying it.

      On that note, the interesting thing about the Swiss system is that the representative element enjoys high rates of legitimacy because politicians know that if they don’t deliver then the referendum element will do for them.

      Therefore there is nothing anti-conservative in this proposal. It both preserves the past and builds upon it.

      • I’m not trying to define conservatism (difficult in a small post) just pointing out that what British politics need is conservative MPs. Fiddling around with the system which is incompatible with our own (see Brexit) won’t work. Plus the Political Class won’t allow it.

  • Nockian

    Just get the state out of our lives and we wouldn’t need endless referenda. Direct democracy is then catered for by people voting for things they value through their wallets.

    The vastly reduced Government would then have few duties and if it failed to carry them out it could be sacked through the ballot box without having to consider the enormous raft of interventionism in order to make a decision.

  • Colonel Madd

    Thats why Gove is so important

    • TheRightToArmBears

      Gove has been impotent so far, and unlikely to change.

  • Malcolm

    If the establishment cannot even agree to give England proper national devolution to put it on a democratic par with the other home nations then anything more radical will never see the light of day. As long as the House of Lords continues to swell with constant appointments over which the electorate have no say I am increasingly coming to the view that I don’t really live in a 21stC democracy whatever it may say on the tin. Direct democracy after the EU referendum? I would be astonished if we see another such exercise in my lifetime. The establishment will take a generation to get over the shock of that result. That, after all, is the problem with giving the little people a say.

  • David Kane

    Islam will be ignored until it is too late. Does Amber Rudd have any idea of what’s happening in London? It’s a co-ordinated campaign to pave the way for sharia law in Britain and under London’s Islamist mayor Sadiq Khan, with the help of Labour’s hate laws and the London diversity police, the push is on to quickly achieve their goal of a fully Islamic London (read: “2030: Your Children’s Future in Islamic Britain” by David Vincent, Amazon and Kindle). A new Muslim mega mosque and Islamic centre, measuring over 3,500 square meters and with room for 3,000 people, is about to open in Golders Green, one of only two largely Jewish areas left in London. Situated in the Hippodrome, a once wonderful historic building centrally located in North London, built in 1913 as a 3,000-seat music hall and for more than 30 years home to the BBC Concert Orchestra, where episodes of the first series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus were recorded in 1969. Thus our culture is erased and replaced at the same rate as our indigenous population. As Turkish president Erdogan has said: “the mosques are our barracks” and the Jews are their mortal enemies yet this barrack of future Islamic terrorism has been plonked down in the middle of the last Jewish settlement of any note in London.
    Because the building is a so-called grade II building, special permission is needed to change the purpose of the building the new owners The Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham has applied to the local city council for permission to use the building as a ‘place of worship’. The application is still pending and worship there is therefore, strictly speaking, illegal but the rules no longer apply for Muslims in Londanistan under its new calif Khan and the mosque is operating now. The Jews of Golders Green are rightly terrified of what is bound to happen and a 4,000 name petition to stop this mosque has been ignored. First they come for the Saturday people and when they’ve been wiped out the Sunday people will follow in the blink of an eye. This Conservative government is offering up our capital city as a sacrifice to Islam on their new altar of diversity.

    • Simon Platt

      “Thus our culture is erased and replaced at the same rate as our indigenous population.” Quite so.

    • Pretty Polly

      Hopefully the Football Lads Alliance will save us all..

      https://twitter.com/lads_alliance

  • The Swiss model is attractive, but it, like any democracy demands that the voters are motivated and care enough to learn and act. Britain’s problems from my viewpoint over the pond, seem much like America’s back in the late noughties. An uninvolved electorate, looking for superficial solutions. The Swiss model won’t fix it, neither would the American, or British models. What will fix it, is an involved and passionate electorate, who hold the parties to account. Until you have that (Yes, I’m preaching to the choir here) there is no solution. We American conservatives, have turned the corner, and have the wreckers on their back foot, but we’ve been working on it since 2012, and we not there yet. But if we keep up the skeer, we will win through, and so will you. Tinkering with the process is sidestepping the problem.

    • Pretty Polly

      Demographics are against the US and Britain unless welfare is withdrawn I’m afraid..

      • Demographics hurt Britain more than the US, but you have a point. Also we are better at assimilating immigrants, even Moslems (sometimes). Still there are enough indigenous Brits as there are conservative Americans to bring it back, especially working together as we so often have.

        • Pretty Polly

          In Britain it cannot be brought back. I doubt it can in the US, the demographics are absolutely stark.

    • Andrew Tekle-Cadman

      Until the Brexit referendum I would have agreed with you: however it is a chicken and egg situation: people become apathetic because they give up because they feel their vote doesn’t matter and politicians do whatever they want. Also in the Parliamentary system the reality is that so many seats are safe that voting doesn’t matter much in most places.

      For once, with Brexit, people really did think their vote mattered. I saw people discussing it everywhere very seriously. I was deeply humbling and moving, and restored my faith in UK people substantially – and not just because my side won!

      • I completely agree with your second paragraph, I was on here, and on a British Christian site that I contribute too, and my coauthor then was well up in the SCP, through her I heard a lot, and thought it would go as it did, and that I hoped it would.

        You’re going to have o do the same thing we are with the Republicans, tear them apart and get them responding to the base. It’s easier here for structural reasons, and because we have Trump, and we have Bannon. But I think you can do it as well. Build on that serious concern left from Brexit and do as must be done. I can’t tell what needs to be done. But rest assured, it’s very difficult here as well to defeat an incumbent, but I think next year’s primaries will be a bloodbath, in fact, this week’s The American Spectator is hinting at it as well.

  • sylvesterthecat

    A fine article and bang on the button.
    The reaction of many of our so called ‘democratic representatives’ to the BREXIT referendum result has appalled me and completely changed my mind about Parliament and our democracy.
    We have senior grandees from all the main parties taking the “to hell with the electorate, we know better” attitude others actually have the nerve to tell us we didn’t know what we were voting for.
    I wonder if this political elite realise the reaction they will get if they scupper BREXIT.

    • Pretty Polly

      Allowing everyone to vote irrespective of responsibility or competence has filled parliament with socialists and communists with their own agendas, so disaster is inevitable I’m afraid..

      • Servant of Mary

        Totally agree.

        Limiting the franchise might do some good…but it’s also very unlikely to ever be passed.

        • Malcolm Marchesi

          Who decides how you limit it . A good idea but fraught wth dangerous possibilities .

    • Malcolm Marchesi

      They simply can’t imagine what will happen , and that’s the danger .

  • Major Plonquer

    Yes, in the future there will be far more direct democracy – but not the simple kind. DD unfortunately doesn’t scale well. It’s great for town and even cities. But national politics is different. The newer concept of “liquid democracy” is getting a lot more attention.

    BTW: does anyone know about THIS – Affinity, a new Party?
    https://www.reboot2020.com/

    • CRSM

      I’ve just had a look. It all seems creepily ‘common purpose’ to me.

    • David

      Sounds distinctly undemocratic I’d say. This would take in the opposite direction to Swiss style direct democracy.

  • hereward

    We need electoral reform but the Lab/con alliance will make sure we do not get it . The AV referendum was not asked for and not wanted . A proper PR system was not allowed on the ballot paper . AV is NOT PR . The situation described in the article will persist as long as you people keep voting for one or other of these dinosaur not fit for purpose parties . Make Votes Matter !

  • getahead

    We need a UKIP government. A government that will actually do something about excessive taxation and a bloated public sector.

    • woolfiesmiff

      UKIP couldn’t run a whelk stall. No we need a party of the 21st century not 1952

      • blingmun

        This is the sort of thing people said in the 1930s.

        There – it’s that easy! Now your views can be safely ignored.

      • Malcolm Marchesi

        Describe such a Party .

  • Timmy

    Direct democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

    • Harley Quin

      The present system is political wolves having electorate for dinner. With gravy.

      The Swiss aren’t noticeably worse governed than Britain. Much better, I’d say.

    • woolfiesmiff

      That would be the system of government employed by the most successful, wealthiest, happiest and healthiest nation on earth. You’re an idiot and a major part of the problem

  • Ian Walker

    Just get rid of first-past-the-post and introduce multi-member single transferable vote. Effectively you introduce competition at the bottom of the ladder – there would be no hiding in safe seats for weak or traitorous politicians.

    The Lib Dems had one chance, in 2010, to get the thing they’d wanted for nearly a century – electoral reform. But they blinked in the headlights of power, and settled for a referendum and a bunch of ultimately meaningless ministries and policies. Now that we’ve had the vote on the AV system (that no-one wanted anyway) the issue is dead for a generation.

    And so our politicians will be useless, until after I’m dead.

  • David

    I have long been an admirer of the Swiss style direct democracy. With a more educated population, information more readily available on the internet and reliable technology to allow electronic voting the old point that the Swiss model only works for small countries now has no substance whatsoever.

    Few now having faith in our system of representative democracy. There is simply too big a gulf between the political class and the general public for the voters to feel that what they receive, post election, reflects what they want and what they feel they voted for. Trust between governed and the governing class has all but broken down.

    Ukip has demonstrated that with first class leadership and a dedicated band of loyal foot soldiers it is possible to get serious political ideas, involving great change, to the forefront of our politics. But because of the two party system and the first past the post method of apportioning power – a winner takes all approach – it is impossible for small new parties to break into our now moribund body politic.

    The only way that I can see to breathe new life into our politics is to adapt a Swiss style direct democracy approach. However the old guard of the parliamentary parties will guard their powers and privileges jealously. So I can see little short of a revolution bringing about this change.

    • Labour managed to break past the FPTP system to become government. UKIP can too if the electorate vote for them.

  • Vera

    Having the EU ruling over us for some 40 years has perhaps also had a part in ensuring our MPs are not up to the job of government.

  • English Advocate

    Referenda are a means of calibrating whether elected representatives are in tune with the wishes of voters. On Brexit there is clearly a big disparity. A majority (albeit a slim one) of the public support it but around 80% of MPs oppose it. There is clearly a need for new structures and mechanisms to enact the public will.

  • UKCitizen

    The biggest problem with democracy is that it will eventually meet a one man, one vote, one time party and that will be the end of it.
    It all boils down again to the purpose of the state and the controls the electorate have over it between elections.
    Do we need a proper constitution to hold them to account or are we happy to carry on with the unwritten one formed of Acts of Parliament, court judgements and conventions which are slowly being sidelined and neutered because the electorate are mostly unaware they even exist.
    Could this then be a rallying point around which the UK could come together rather than drifting further apart as we a re now?