In January last year LWM’s board member, George Morran, wrote to the Birmingham Post:
“. . . Westminster and Whitehall Government is too big; its one policy for all in England has limited much needed innovation in public policy and excluded many from participating in local politics and government.
“In contrast, as a result of devolution we can see in Scotland and Wales policy innovation and much greater levels of public engagement in public life.
Smaller government which is as close as possible to voters can respond more effectively to local needs and support greater civic engagement . . .”
An extract from a Conservative MP’s maiden speech also struck a chord:
“Politics at every level has become far too remote. On the European Union level, how many people in this country genuinely believe that when they cast their vote in a European election it will have any impact on how Europe is structured, on what decisions will be made within the EU, or even on the quality of those decisions? I do not think that many people believe in voting in those elections, and one of the reasons is that increasingly decisions are being taken by people who are not elected, and are therefore insulated from any kind of democratic pressure.
“Nationally, we have a choice-a limited choice – every 1,500 days or so, and in between there are very few authentic mechanisms for ordinary people to influence how decisions are taken. At the local level, I would say things are even worse. Local authorities have been stripped of powers over such a long time and to such an extent that even on genuinely local issues – local planning matters, local supermarkets, incinerators, for example – more often than not local authorities find themselves overruled by national quangos that are also unelected.
“This Parliament needs to act decisively to shorten the distance between people and power. That should be one of our priorities. One of the best, cleanest and most effective ways to do that is to introduce much more direct democracy. It should be possible for people to earn the right to trigger a referendum on important local and national issues. It should be possible for people to recall and eventually possibly boot out councillors and MPs, not just for committing crimes but simply because they have lost the trust and respect of their constituents. If we introduce those mechanisms and turn increasingly to direct democracy, the quality of the national and local debates will improve, we will see much more engagement and we will have a much more politically literate country.”
Any common ground there? Possibility of dialogue?–