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Topic for January - Improving the Practice of Democracy

    • 99 posts
    January 15, 2019 3:05 PM GMT

    Spurred by the obvious shortcomings in our democratic process around the way Brexit has been handled by Government and Parliament, it is clearly time we took a look at how our democratic system could be improved for the 21st century.

    Our topic for January is therefore: Improving the Practice of Democracy.
    You might like to take a look at previous input on this subject at: http://www.probably42.net/documents/2/34/improving-the-practice-of-democracy-in-the-uk


    Our suggested Agenda for the topic, together with some specific thoughts on areas of discussion is below.



    1. Do we like the idea of democracy? What do we mean by democracy today?

    How does it relate to fairness, decisions for the good of all, accountability, representation of our views?

    Are there other attributes we expect of it?


    1. What should the objectives of a 21st century democratic system actually be? (How well does our current system meet those objectives? What are the specific issues? What would need to change to deliver those objectives?)

    Consider what we ideally want in a 21st century system under the following headings:

    Objectives for the population
    Objectives for outcomes of the system
    Objectives relating to our Representatives
    Objectives relating to the system of politics and Government
    Objectives relating to the political environment – media etc
    What would such a system look like in order to meet those objectives?


    Some thoughts on each of these headings as further input

    2.1 Objectives of a new system for the population e.g.

    • All need to feel that their vote/voice counts equally with others + better engagement
    • Informed Electorate – education system + availability of balanced/unbiased info
    • Trust in the system - decisions made show Government for the whole population
    • Measures of life satisfaction paramount, not just GDP + measures of long-term progress
    • The role of AI. Can it emulate democracy?


    2.2 Objectives for outcomes of the new system e.g.

    • Ability to compete with other countries systems e.g. China
      • Stable and decisive Government
      • Quicker decision making and implementation
      • Anticipating not regulating after the event
      • Long-term thinking & planning (not just short-term)
      • Full exploitation of technology and AI
      • (land and population pros and cons)
    • Results in or reinforces Government for the whole population not just segments
    • System can’t be hijacked by a rogue administration or president
    • A system that enables us to do the right thing not just the popular thing
    • Strengthens the Union (ref 2018 Lords reform bill)
    • Devolved decision making where it makes sense


    2.3 Objectives relating to our Representatives e.g.

    • Representatives or Elective aristocracy? (Role, Qualifications, Experience, Job for life?)
    • More able politicians – successful and experienced people in decision-making positions
    • Better diversity e.g. science, technology, business, all comfortable with technology
    • More accountability of politicians for what they get right and where they don’t succeed
    • Alternative or improvements to party and constituency system – remove least worst problem and disenfranchisement
    • Clear that in it for the good of all not their own objectives. No ‘career politicians.
    • Cabinet Govt. not would be presidents


    2.4 Objectives relating to the system of politics and Government e.g.

    • Establish gold standard of democracy. Innovative Government – Leaders not laggards
    • Remove adversarial culture of parliament. Action oriented, not talking shop. Should there be an opposition, or should it be redefined?
    • Improved mechanics of democracy (how? how often?). Operation of parliament or equiv
    • People that know about a subject making the decisions. Separate Topic Bodies
    • Ability to make life and death decisions quickly e.g. war
    • Better ways of making politicians aware of what their electorate wants/views/ideas
    • Devolving decision making to regions
    • Civil Service etc. - more measurement of objectives such as reducing staff involved in admin/bureaucracy.
    • Business related improvements - a tax and reward system that encourages constant improvements in productivity and value of product/service (no room for making money without providing community value)


    2.5 Objectives relating to the Political Environment – Media etc. e.g.

    • Stop media culture of asking loaded questions and politicians deflecting questions
    • Process for everyone to be involved in policy and ideas
    • Incentives that don’t allow management to sit on their laurels – especially productivity
    • Greater role for facts and equiv. of Nat Stats Office (facts currently getting lost in distortion)
    • Problem of propaganda machines as in Brexit (Remainers and Brexiteers)

    2.6 What would the key elements of such a system look like in order to meet the above objectives?

    Hopefully we’ve identified a lot from above discussions. Can we pull out the top level  elements of what such a system would look like?




    This post was edited by Tony Clack at January 15, 2019 3:08 PM GMT
    • 99 posts
    February 18, 2019 9:48 AM GMT

    Output from the Pie and Pint Discussion 23 is now available at:


    This identifies current issues and starts to look at solution areas