Green Party sets out 5 ways in which the Tories have undermined our democracy

Carla Denyer claims Greens are the strongest party on democratic reform

Carla Denyer speaking in front of a Bristol Trades Council banner

The Green Party has slammed the Tories for dragging democracy in the UK in a dangerous direction.

Speaking at an event last night, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, Carla Denyer, laid out how the Tory’s have assaulted our democracy – and how the Greens would solve it.

Denyer discussed how to restore public faith in politics and argued that the Greens were the strongest party on democratic reform.

1. Voter ID

The Tory government was accused of ‘fixing a problem that doesn’t exist’ and, as a result, disenfranchising large marginalised groups of the electorate.

Denyer said it was clear ‘thousands of voters’ were affected, who were overwhelmingly more disadvantaged and vulnerable in society.  

Even Jacob Rees-Mogg has now publically admitted the new rules which require voters to show photo ID to vote were more about ‘gerrymandering’ and boosting Tory support than tackling election fraud.

2. Government control of the Electoral Commission

‘The UK no longer has an independent invigilator of elections’ warned Denyer, on a policy that has largely slipped under the radar, adding this is ‘really dangerous for democracy’.

Pushed through in the Elections Act last year – which included the introduction of photo ID requirements – the Electoral Commission was brought under a form of government control.

This means the government can be at liberty to set the direction of the Commission, including what the regulator chooses to look into.

Campaigners have asked how the body can still be an ‘independent regulator’ of the elections if it now is to take policy direction from the government of the day.

3. Making peaceful protest illegal

Citing the policing of the coronation earlier this month which saw the improper arrest of Republic campaigners, a journalist and public bystander who then spent 13 hours in police custody, the undermining of the right to protest poses a severe attack to our democracy.  

The public order bill introduces new vague and undefined police and government powers to clamp down on protests, including by one person, including if they’re considered too noisy or likely to be a nuisance.

4. Imposing directly-elected mayors

Denyer said directly-elected mayors represent, ‘an extreme concentration of power in the hands of one person’, as she accused the Conservative government of favouring the elected mayor as it makes it easier to ‘pick up the phone to 20 odd individuals and twist their arm’.

Local authorities in England and Wales may establish directly-elected mayors through a referendum, whilst an alternative committee system would take power away from one person and involve more people working together.

The government also replaced the mayoral election supplementary vote system with first past the post in 2021 – removing the ‘scrap of preferential voting we had in England’ said Denyer.  

5. Sleaze

Sleaze, which has engulfed Conservative party rule over the last couple of years has deeply affected trust in politics as well as standards in public life, Denyer stressed.

She blamed a broken political system which ‘breeds politicians and governments like this,’ where MPs feel they can do as they please.

“There is a culture of hypocrisy and entitlement that goes to the heart of our political system, and we need to change the way our democracy works to root it out.”

How would the Green Party solve it?

The Greens have said they would apply proportional representation for all elections to all levels of government, along with bringing the voting age down to 16.

They would introduce devolution, mirroring systems in Europe by giving more power to local and regional government and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parliament. They would also introduce an elected upper house to replace hereditary power in the House of Lord and set up a Citizen’s Convention.

Introducing a fairer system of state funding for political parties, which would hope to eliminate the dependence of large private donations and strengthen transparency on political lobbying and donations. One in four people believe that party donors have the most influence on government decisions, according to Unlock Democracy.

Denyer also accused the media of preventing democratic conversations through its bias towards certain political parties. Commenting on her recent appearance on BBC Question Time, she said it was the first time since 2019 they’ve had a Green Party leader on the show. In comparison, Nigel Farage has been featured 35 times, putting him in the show’s top nine highest appearance makers.  

Carla Denyer spoke at the event hosted by campaign organisation Unlock Democracy.

(Photo credit: Matthew Philip Long – Creative Commons)

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