Electoral reform is top of the pops

The Power 2010 project has democratically chosen five policy changes. Changing the electoral system is top of the popular reforms.

Our guest writer is Pam Giddy, Director of Power2010.

When Power2010 first declared its intention to draw-up and campaign on a five-point plan to reform British democracy based on a process of popular debate and participation, more than a few people said we must have lost our marbles.

The prevailaing view, encouraged by the media, is that ordinary folk cannot be trusted to make sensible political choices, that they will always back the most reactionary or populist ideas and that is why powerful leaders are needed to make decisions on our behalf. On democratic or constitutional reform issues in particular, the view of political elites is that people are either unable to make choices or they actually don’t care enough to even think about them.

Well, we never listened to that nonsense. We went for a bottom-up process, empowering people across the country to have their say on how our country should be run through a three-stage process that involved: asking for people’s ideas, distilling them down to a shortlist through deliberative polling, and then holding a mass public vote. The five ideas that came out on top are an interesting and radical mix which, if implemented, would truly transform our democracy.

After 4,500 submissions by the public, and over 100,000 votes, the top five ideas that make up the Power Pledge in the order in which they finished are:

1. Introduce a proportional voting system – key to opening up the system, this reform would give voters real choice and power at elections .

2. Scrap ID cards and roll-back the database state – the public has no desire to be tagged, tracked and monitored by vast and insecure databases. Thanks, but no thanks.

3. Replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber – reform began over a hundred years ago, but half of Parliament still consists of cronies and aristocrats. Get on with it!

4. Allow only English MPs to vote on English laws – this will make a lot of liberals balk no doubt, but it has been a running sore at the heart of the system for too long. The English Question must be addressed honestly and openly.

5. Draw up a written constitution – the much vaunted “flexibility” of our unwritten  system has permitted the centralisation of power in the hands of a few and the systematic erosion of rights and freedoms. Time to replace the broken and corrupted sovereignty  of Parliament with the sovereignty of We, the people.

Power2010 will be asking the public to back the Pledge and join the campaign for a new democratic settlement. To ensure broad support for reform and open up a space for a dialogue that is authentically pluralist and cross-party we are asking people who endorse the Pledge to back a majority of the reforms (three or more) while recognising that all five touch on important issues, enjoy democratic weight and legitimacy, and should therefore be the subject of public debate and consideration.

Power2010 has full-time organisers in every nation and region of the UK . They are busy now organising networks of volunteers to recruit support for the Pledge with the aim of asking every candidate in every constituency where they stand on the people’s priorities for reform.  The campaign will grow and grow over the coming weeks and already looks set to be the largest third-party campaign at the election. The politicians are on notice – let the fightback begin!

• Sign the Power Pledge and contact the POWER2010 campaigner in your area.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.