The media's discussions of the democratic deficit
In the last few months of 2013, the BBC, Guardian, and other UK media have given much coverage and discussion to exactly those problems that the RDP was created to deal with. Surveys have been showing that the overwhelming proportion of the UK electorate are now recognised as very disenchanted with the House of Commons and politicians in general. And they are not apathetic but rather angry and frustrated at a seeming lack of any options to change things (but only because they haven't yet heard of the RDP!).
BBC Radio 4's PM program in particular had a whole series of interactions between listeners sending in their suggestions and panels of experts giving their judgements thereon.
(Link to more here shortly)
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, just a quick survey to make the point.
[Legal disclaimer: I have not verified the truth of all these claims; they are merely allegations which I have quickly dredged up by googling. I would guess they are probably all true but for all I know some of them may be inaccurate or mythical.]
“No plans to increase VAT”, VAT increased to 20%. “The next Conservative government will increase the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million”, inheritance tax limit frozen at £325,000 It was David Cameron who said that he had "no plans" to raise VAT (before increasing this regressive tax to 20 per cent), who promised that he wouldn't "change child benefit" (before abolishing it for higher earners) and who called for an end to the "top-down reorganisations of the NHS" (before announcing the biggest reforms since the health service was founded). Ahead of today's vote on the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, it's worth remembering that this is another area in which the Tories have broken their election promises. As for the NHS, "We will stop top-down reorganisations of the NHS," said the coalition agreement, yet now what health secretary Andrew Lansley calls his "revolution" rolls in [in England].
5) p. 16: ‘We will not raise the basic or top rates of income tax . . .’ April 2009 Budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling announced an increase in the top-rate of income tax to 50%. 9) p. 38: ‘. . . we are developing a nationwide week-long summer residential programme for school students.’ No such programme exists. 13) p. 44: ‘Not all problems need a 999 response, so a single phone number staffed by police, local councils and other services will be available across the country . . .’ There were plans for a new 101 non-emergency number to be rolled out across the country in 2008, but funding was withdrawn by the Home Office in 2007. 14) p. 48: ‘By 2007 every offender will be supervised after release . . .’ Prisoners who spend less than a year in jail are not supervised on release, and 50% of those prisoners go on to reoffend. p. 63: ‘By 2009 all women will have choice over where . . . they have their baby . . .’ National Childbirth Trust Report: more than 90% of pregnant women are not able to choose where they give birth. 18) p. 65: ‘We will . . . ensure that fresh fruit and vegetables are part of every school meal.’ Fruit and vegetables not part of every school meal. 23) p. 84: ‘We will put [the EU Constitution] to the British people in a referendum . . .’ Following the Netherlands’ rejection of the EU constitution and its subsequent collapse it was replaced by the Lisbon Treaty. Despite being ‘substantially equivalent’ to the original Constitution, Labour did not keep its referendum promise. Valery Giscard, former Minister of Economy and Finance in France, admitted Lisbon is the ‘same letter in a new envelope’, and that ‘all the earlier proposals will be in the new text but will be hidden and disguised in some way.’ p. 110: ‘We will legislate to place reasonable limits on the time bills spend in the second chamber – no longer than 60 sitting days for most bills.’ No such legislation has been introduced.
The Liberal Democrats broke their pledge to vote against higher tuition fees.
Our proposed new political system (realdem) is the outcome of many years of research and discussion and thinking, but we at RDP HQ do not reckon to delude ourselves that we have a highway to perfection. Not least, any political system is itself inherently a politically-contentious matter, with no absolutely "correct" answer to the questions involved in its design. For that reason an important function of the RDP is going to be not only the practical introduction of realdem, but also the organisation of consultation and debate about its various options. And as part of that, we invite you to let us know your thoughts about the present proposals.
|See all these broken promises from the Labour, Conservative, and LibDem timewasting dinosaur parties
|"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."