Sunday, 16 June 2024

Total Democracy
The new co-operative campaign group Total Democracy held it’s first meeting on the 2nd February. Foundered by four centrist parties, including the National Liberal Party, it unveiled its first campaign press release calling for an additional box on all ballot papers ‘None of the above’. This will show whether the declining turnouts at elections is due to voter apathy as the main parties suggest, or due to disillusionment with those parties and the system, as we say!
Representatives of the parties unveiled their new banner outside Parliament and explained what Total Democracy is all about at a meeting. Jean Eveleigh on behalf of the Democratic Reform Party explained why we needed to work together against an uncaring coalition. Lee Holmes of the Peoples Democratic Party highlighted the difference between the professional politicians of the main parties and ordinary people such as ourselves. The National Liberal Party’s Graham Williamson, gave a speech explaining what Total Democracy is all about. We reproduce the speech below.

What is Total Democracy? Officially we describe it as A Coalition of parties, pressure groups, individuals and anyone else with an interest in politics and democracy?

So we know it’s a political group but who is it for?

The first strapline (slogan) is, Ordinary people reclaiming politics. So we know it’s not for professional politicians! All of us here are part-time, CONVICTION politicians. We do it because we would like to see CHANGE.

The second strapline is, A body of like minded small parties, groups and Independents co-operating together to reclaim democracy for the nation. Thus the change we would like to see is bringing politics back to the people i.e. greater democracy. This phrase, so often misused, originates from the Greek word (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”. Clearly, under that definition our political system is very far from democratic. Our political masters say we live in a so-called ‘representative democracy’. This not the rule of the people but by a professional political class.

Nor are these professional politicians representative since, whatever the issue, be it in war or in peace, there is usually a gaping chasm between what these politicians believe and what the ordinary public believes.

Party representatives unveiling first campaign (NOTA)

For the National Liberal Party, we might highlight the gulf between the rhetoric of self-determination and the practice, for Democratic Reform Party it might be the gulf between calls for political reform and the resistance of Parliament to heed those calls, for the Peoples Democratic Party it might be the gulf between what politicians say and what they actually do, for the Popular Alliance it might be Parliament’s failure to have worked in the real world compared to the rest of us.

If we all agree there is a democratic deficit how will TD function and plan to change things?

Firstly, let me explain what TD is not. It is not a political party. The founders are existing political parties; there is no need for another. It is not a merger into one either. It is also not an electoral coalition or accommodation, although it may ultimately facilitate that between some or all of its members.
In short it is a group to co-ordinate campaigns of mutual interest. This is quite unique in British politics. Even the present coalition is composed of unwilling partners and exists due to an arithmetical accident. TD is composed of willing partners.

Its’ campaigns will be on matters of common interest as decided upon by the group’s members. If a majority agree, a campaign will be launched. All will be opt-in rather than opt-out; so that no-one is obliged to promote something they may have reservations with. How all this will work will be covered by a constitution in due course.

The first campaign will be NOTA (None of the above). We are told that falling votes at elections is due to apathy. We say this is actually due to disillusionment; with the parties, with the politicians, with the system. We know this from the proliferation of new parties and from our own experience. Our political betters may or may not know the reality but they are certainly spinning us a yarn. We believe that by putting a ‘None of the above’ box on each ballot paper we will increase turnout as voters will have an opportunity to exercise their democratic right without having to vote for parties they dislike! There is so much more that can be done but this would be a good start.
The future of Total Democracy

Party representatives unveiling TD banner outside Parliament.

Presently, there are four small centrist parties, the founders, involved but we hope to expand, including independents and pressure groups, once a constitution is in place.

In the long run I see this as the only realistic strategy to changing the system and the way we are ruled, and the way we rules ourselves. The alternative is an all-encompassing single party that can somehow sweep to power in a blaze of glory, whilst overcoming the powerful obstacles, such as the First Past The Post, costly elections and media blackouts, all designed to prevent such a fantasy ever occurring.

Furthermore, I don’t believe that any one party can appeal to all social classes, ethnic groups or political persuasions. The present three party system exists because it taps into and attempts to articulate the three great political traditions in the UK; Conservatism, Socialism and Liberalism.
Three Traditions

One of our councillors David Durant articulated a theory of the ‘Three Traditions’ and postulated that there were alternative versions of those ideas. For example, a patriotic version of the Tories might be UKIP, a similar version of the liberals would be the NLP, and a constitutional, and reformist version of the liberals is perhaps the DRP etc. In other words there are ‘alternative’ images of the establishment parties that can tap into the ‘Three Traditions’. Total Democracy’s aim then must be to get the sensible, centrist versions i.e. those parties more composed of and in tune with ordinary people, working and pulling together in a common direction.
This alternative will be a body that can reach out to all sections of society, individually and collectively, to represent them, and that body is Total Democracy.
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