Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Democracy in Northern Ireland

Democracy in Northern Ireland is distorted by entrenching the rights of minorities and entrenching the sharing of power.   The Belfast Peace Agreement can however claim one major success – after many years of terrorism it brought some stability to Northern Ireland and drastically reduced the number of terrorist acts.   This was critical.   As a result Ulster is now in a position for democracy to be developed.   At some time in the future the democratic fault lines will become apparent.   Because of power sharing there is no way for the will of the people to be fully exercised.   Minorities have to be protected, but that protection has to be with the consent of the majority and there has to be some mechanism by which ultimately the majority can exercise their will.   By giving a minority effective control in particular areas, at some point, the majority will rise against what is being done.
                Over a period of time the blocking mechanisms in the Northern Ireland Assembly should be reduced, eventually to zero, to bring Northern Ireland into line with normal democracy.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Local Democracy

Shires and Districts
     The methods chosen for elections at Shire and District level vary considerably, but mainly they are based on the First Past the Post system of election.   Like with the House of Commons this produces much distorted results.   In the 2006 local elections in the London Borough of Newham, Labour with 41.8% of the vote got 90% of the seats.   At a National level, in the 2002 local elections the Conservative Party got 72.2% of the seats with only 43.9% of the votes.   It is one of the scandals of local politics and no doubt contributes to the reason why turnout in local elections is so low.
                This is clearly wrong and produces wholly unrepresentative local government.   In future:
                Local government elections should be conducted under the Single Transferable Vote system of proportional representation with three members in each ward.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Democracy and the City of London

                  A private Act of Parliament in 2002 reformed the voting system for electing Members to the Corporation of London and received the Royal Assent on 7 November 2002. Under the new system, the number of non-resident voters has doubled from 16,000 to 32,000. Previously disenfranchised firms (and other organisations) are now entitled to nominate voters, in addition to those already represented and all such bodies are now required to choose their voters in a representative fashion.

Bodies employing fewer than ten people may appoint one voter, those employing ten to fifty people may appoint one voter for every five employees; those employing more than fifty people may appoint ten voters and one additional voter for each fifty employees beyond the first fifty.  This pyramid form of democracy is a distortion of democracy.

The Act also removed some anomalies, which had developed over time within the City's system, which had been unchanged since the 1850s.

                Under the changes brought in, the big City and foreign banks will be able to dominate the electoral process by being able to appoint up to 70 voters each to represent their company.    There is no requirement by companies for direct elections in the workplace to choose the new voters that will represent them.

                Aldermen and members of the City’s common council are often elected unopposed in many wards because partnerships, mainly of older law and accountancy firms, can dominate the electorate.  

                The present system is widely seen as undemocratic, but adopting a more conventional system would place the 9,200 actual residents of the City of London in control of the local planning and other functions of a major financial capital which provides most of its services to hundreds of thousands of non-residents.   As they are the residents they should form the electorate.   Some would argue that this issue illustrates the complexities and problems of democracy, but the principle of each vote having equal value should not be compromised.   Wealth should not be allowed to buy votes.   That is why the business vote was abolished elsewhere and is why the business vote should be abolished in the City of London.

Proposals to annex the City of London to one of the neighbouring boroughs, possibly the City of Westminster, have not widely been taken seriously.  However, one proposal floated as a possible further reform is to allow those who work in the City to each have a direct individual vote, rather than businesses being represented by appointed voters.   This latter would be an improvement but it is unsatisfactory and does not meet the principle objection, which is that the residents of the City cannot control their own affairs.

The City has gone backwards in time by resurrecting wealth and influence into the democratic process, but in doing so it has made itself totally undemocratic.   Because there were so few residents in the City of London they could possibly have a big influence on what is done in the City.   It demonstrates that even in the present day the power of wealth and money talks.   The system should be abolished and genuine democracy introduced.   If the objection is that the electorate is too small then the City should be amalgamated with a neighbouring borough or split up.

For all electoral purposes the City of London should be amalgamated with the City of Westminster. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What do you think of this?
If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of:

      57 Asians
    21 Europeans
    14 Americans (North, Central, South)
     8 Africans

There would be:

     52 women and 48 men
     30 Caucasians and 70 non-Caucasians
     30 Christians and 70 non-Christians
     89 heterosexuals
     11 homosexuals

6 people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA
80 would live in poverty
70 would be illiterate
50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
1 would be dying
1 would be being born
1 (yes, only one) would have a university degree

If we looked at the world in this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious but consider again the following:

  • If you woke up this morning in good health, you have more luck than one million people, who won't live through the week.
  • If you have never experience the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people.
  • If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion (that's right) people.
  • If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world's population.
  • If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet and a few coins in your purse, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world.
  • If your parents are still alive and still married, you are a rare individual.
  • If you read this, you are extremely lucky, because someone is thinking of you and because you don't comprise one of those 2 billion people who can't read.

    AND SO:
    WORK like you don't need the money
    LOVE like nobody has ever hurt you
    DANCE like nobody is watching
    SING like nobody is listening
    LIVE as if this was paradise on Earth
    MENTION this blog to your friends
    BYPASS those who are determined to see the worst in the world no matter what.
    If you don't mention it, nothing will happen.
    If you do mention it, someone might smile while they are reading it, and that will be positive