Councillor Chris Ash, Liberal Group leader on Peterborough City Council
Over the last few weeks I have asked myself what is democracy. For some a new voting system is all that’s needed.
I believe we need a good look at how government works for us (or doesn’t work). Our national government is stuck in the 18th century.
A modern voting system is the icing on the cake – I want the cake to be baked properly first not half baked and not 200 years old.
Those who are in a positon to take control will happily remind us that they are there because of our democratic system, they now take charge.
We may have open and fair elections, but is true democracy the beneficiary or the victim? I think with our system victim.
We have a free and fair voting system, we can disagree publicly with our rulers, our press is free to ridicule governors. It’s democracy that allows me to write this piece.
So why do I think democracy suffers .
Let’s start with the whipping system. Our representatives are told to follow the party line, therefore representing their political rulers first, not us. Political control is put ahead of true representation. There are mavericks within - I wish them luck.
For some of us, in order to represent the voter not the party, we choose to work away from party political control . Hard at local level . Aided and abetted by national media , virtually impossible at Westminster.
Power to govern at local level is a favour from central government , not a right. That favour can be taken away any time and changes are often made.
For example local concerns with recent ward boundary changes were over ruled by officials in London.
The great thing about local councils especially parish or community councils is that your representatives are fairly close by. Even if they don’t live around the corner they are approachable. Can you say that about the Police Commissioner or your Euro MEP? Government proposals for so called devolution and a single Mayor to be in control of a large area simply add to more centralisation. A lot of effort was put into escaping the stranglehold of Cambridgeshire and develop closer links with our close neighbours to the north and west.
No doubt there will be expensive offices and set ups to run it all money that should be spent providing services not gravy trains ,
Our system is set up for control freaks not true democracy representational or otherwise. Our only input is putting a cross on a piece of paper once every four years .
Had we the opportunity I would have voted No to the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties .
Our political l masters allowed the EU set up we now have now – no wonder most at the top want us to stay. It’s ideal for those control freaks.
I also suspect those in the out that camp that aren’t in full control now see leaving as an opportunity for them to have more control , not you or me.
Either way the gravy trains will thunder on.
How I vote is not a case of what is best for us but what is the least worst – I still don’t know but one thing I am sure of : democracy will be the victim .