Report after report tells us the same thing. As Helena Kennedy head of the Power Commission put it, 'Our way of doing politics is killing politics'
This commission came up with 30 recommendations with some startling facts to back them up. There is a consensus that individuals and local communities need to be given more power and control over resources, but this entails politicians giving up power, and as Jonathan Freedling explains they obviously are reluctant to do that.
The main recommendations are;
Guidelines setting out the powers of the executive, parliament and local government. (I would go further and have these things in a written constitution).
Mandatory referenda if 2% of electorate (800,000) sign petition on an issue (debate in parliament if 1% sign up). (Issue cannot be change in taxation or contrary to Human Rights Act). So for example, we would have had referenda on the Euro, EU membership, Iraq, a smoking ban, and ID cards. There would be a limit of 1 referendum per 5 years on each issue.
Proportional Representation. The single transferable vote is suggested but an open list system similar to Scandanavian electoral systems would also be good. Finland has an open list system and has consistently been voted the most democratic country in the world.
Donations capped at 10k to stop rich people buying favours.
Individuals given option to allocate 3 pounds of state funding (but only if they choose to) to a political party by ticking relevant box on ballot paper. This gives extra incentive for parties to increase turnout. I really like this suggestion.
Murdoch, Rothermere and Desmond families to face firing squad. (Ok they didn't say exactly that), but strict limits to be placed on media ownership. This is essential for a properly functioning democracy.
So, this is all good stuff but why would politicians give away their power? The answer is we as Labour members are going to have to make our party and government listen and for a start honour their commitment to a referendum on electoral reform. The signs are that some, including Gordon Brown are starting to listen to the arguments. I look forward to GB's speech at the Power Commission conference in London on March 25th, register here to attend.