Fwd: Re: Tools for political and protest action

mm at iniref.org mm at iniref.org
Wed Mar 16 17:28:26 GMT 2011

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Re: Tools for political and protest action
Date: 	Tue, 15 Mar 2011 23:53:11 +0100
From: 	I&Rgb <info at iniref.org>
Organization: 	IandR~ GB www.iniref.org
To: 	Polly Toynbee <polly.toynbee at guardian.co.uk>

Polly Toynbee wrote:
> Thanks, but I'm afraid this kind of petitioning leaves me cold.
Fundamentally, we do not propose petitions but a combination of indirect 
(representative) with elements of direct democracy. Part of the latter 
is the "citizens' initiative", in German a Volksbegehren (citizens' wish 
or desire), which in a constitutionally regulated process can lead to a 
  Volksentscheid, a political decision by the whole electorate.
> Politics is not about individuals choosing like shopping.
Also not what we propose, although you perhaps do injustice to shopping
when it is part of responsible consumption. People in UK just do not get
democracy. When democracy exists, the people are in charge all of the
time. This brings a completely different social climate to the one which
we know. Among "ordinary" citizens there is less diffidence to
"authority" and more self-confidence in handling public affairs. For
practical reasons, we suggest retaining representatives and government,
in a _partial direct democracy_.
> It's about supporting a body of views in a collective party, an
> economic programme, a view of the world.
That's rather old fashioned. Frankly, it's either naive or dishonest to
imply that an electorate can effectively decide on the whole range of
political issues by voting for a candidate once every 5 years. Many
issues cannot be covered during election campaigns. Events may change
policy requirements and raise new choices and dilemmas. Fine tuning of
policy is often needed. The electorate needs instruments with which to
intervene in the periods between elections, tools such as the
initiative, the binding referendum and the recall.
> We elect representatives to express our view ( a bit).
You have hit the nail on the head. In order to correct for inadequacies
of indirect democracy, we need partial direct democracy as above. Our
representation in governance should be more than "a bit" and we should
stop leaving so many important decisions to rough guessing or
> In california these one-offs just lead to bankruptcy: people vote for
> more of everything and less tax with irresponsibility instead of
> voting for a costed, practical rounded manifesto.
The myth that ballot initiatives caused financial chaos in California
has been spread and cultivated by opponents of democracy -- companies
and groups which are also your political enemies, I think. Proposition
13 (on arguably reasonable grounds) limited some property taxes around
33 years ago. Other taxes were unaffected. During that time the
political parties failed to fix California's budget. There is little
connection between direct democracy and the state of California's
finances. During the last few years, Cal's tax revenue has been among
the highest among the US states. See analyses by John Matsusaka,
University of S. California. As a lefty, you should look at what sort of
groups and concerns are behind the attacks on the ballot initiative
which you echo here.

Further on direct democracy in USA. We propose a better system for UK.
There should be (a) better public information and deliberation of
proposals (b) involvement of local council or parliament. Parliament
should be obliged to consider and debate ballot proposals and may put
forward an alternative. Only if parliament rejects the proposal (which
has been endorsed by a large number of electors) must a referendum be held.

Thanks for your reply.
Michael Macpherson

Dr. Michael Macpherson
Psycho-Social and Medical Research PSAMRA ~ Integral Studies
Guildford and Berlin

I&R ~ GB Citizens' Initiative and Referendum
Campaign for direct democracy in Britain

> On 15 March 2011 16:57, I&Rgb <info at iniref.org
> <mailto:info at iniref.org>> wrote:
>     This is about a "campaign for campaigners", an "add-on" which
>     could aid many different groups and movements. With citizens'
>     direct democracy we could promote our causes better and even make
>     new public policy! We could put our proposals forward by
>     "citizens' initiative" and legally demand binding referendum to
>     change government policy.
>     The Conservative LibDem coalitioners have put forward half-hearted
>     proposals which allegedly will devolve power to the "lowest
>     possible" level (we citizens). One item is that a referendum can
>     be triggered on any local issue as a result of a proposal signed
>     by one in twenty voters. The catch: the council must not take any
>     notice of the people's decision, the referendum will not be
>     "binding"! At state level only a glorified petition to Parliament
>     is on offer, not a formal referendum demand.
>     We want more democracy which works for people NOW!
>     We should not be complacent. Powerful groups and companies are
>     lobbying now, in Parliament and across the Internet, to block any
>     moves towards stronger democracy!
>     Please add radical democracy to your campaign. INIREF, the
>     campaign for direct democracy in Britain, provides background and
>     support.
>     Add one of our buttons or the http://www.iniref.org/
>     <http://www.iniref.org/latest.html> link to your website or
>     facebook site etc. and please spread the word.
>     ----------------------
>     Free button available from info AT iniref.org
>     Button available from info AT iniref.org

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