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Saturday, May 23, 2009

USE A CITIZEN JURY TO REFORM PARLIAMENT

Citizen Jury is a self explanatory term:

In a Citizens Jury project, a randomly selected and demographically representative panel of citizens meets for four or five days to carefully examine an issue of public significance. The jury of citizens, usually consisting of 18–24 individuals, serves as a microcosm of the public. Jurors are paid a stipend for their time. They hear from a variety of expert witnesses and are able to deliberate together on the issue. On the final day of their moderated hearings, the members of the Citizens Jury present their recommendations to decision-makers and the public. Citizens Jury projects can be enhanced through extensive communication with the public, including a dynamic web presence and significant media contacts.

I think that the jury system is even more important to our freedom than a democratic Parliament. A jury can, if they so desire, ignore the law to produce a verdict which is just & which the government don't want. The Clive Pontin case being an example. This is almost the only pressure on government to make the law sensible.

Our Parliament has been thoroughly discredited by the payments scandal but there is no real agreement on what can or should be done short of stringing everybody up. Without such agreement & action credit will not be restored. Even the MPs now not only recognise how unpopular they are & are demoralised by it. I do not think call by MPs to trust their reforming zeal will be credible. Nor will some sort of commission of the "great & good"/usual suspects. Since Lord Hutton's greywash report on the Iraq war even High Court judges are not trusted (nor should they be - example Lords Bonomy & May's corrupt & probably murderous behaviour during the Milosvic "trial"). The only thing the people can trust is the people. Set up a number of citizen juries, selected openly at random from the electoral rolls as juries normally are, let them see all the options & deliver verdicts on what reforms are needed. I doubt if i would agree with everything they decided but would have a lot more respect for those decisions than anybody else I can think of.

The options under discussion include (but are not limited to):

• Proportional representation - Ending what critics see as the inherently unfair "first-past-the-post" system of electing MPs

• Fixed term parliaments - Ending the advantage to the ruling party of choosing the polling date

• A written constitution - Setting out voters' rights and limiting the power of government

• A fully elected second chamber - Ending the power of patronage and expelling the few remaining hereditary peers

• Curbing the power of the whips - Freeing MPs to to vote with their conscience more often rather than following the party line

• Fixed terms for MPs - So they do not become too cosy and complacent in their roles

• Boosting the power of select committees - Electing the chairmen rather than having them chosen by the whips and handing them greater investigatory powers


(I rather approve of them all except the 2nd chamber which I would replace with constitutional limitations & a supreme court. So long as we don't have PR we can't really call Britain a democracy)

When citizen juries were used in examining the case for more nuclear they did not come out ecstatic for it but were sufficiently supportive that the eco-crowd started girning. Jury's are bound to come out with better informed opinions on whatever they are asked to study than the populace as a whole precisely because they do study them & so their results will be both wiser & more representative than any opinion poll.
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A word in favour of fiddling MPs:

This is not a new scandal & not the worst one we could face. Many countries (& the EU) have far worse. Everybody who followed politics has known for years that MPs have been encouraged to fiddle their expenses because those in power were scared of the publicity of raising their pay. If we are going to be honest we also know we would have done the same given the same green light. The amounts don't even rate as trivial compared to the costs of government. What I think has happened is that we have a perfect storm of contempt for our leaders with a whole range of causes which has focused itself on this issue. The causes include the fact that we are in a recession; that it is a recession caused by politics; that neither of the other 2 party leaders appear to be much more than tailor's dummies; that the "great & good" have been discredited by things like the Hutton enquiry & the massive salaries of quamgists; war crimes & being lied to to bring them about; the feeling of powerlessness under the EU; Labour & Lib Dems breaking their most solemn promise on a referendum & even Cameron looking like he would rather weasel; a lack of national goals, anything much to be proud of in the running of the country or much of a future; that we all feel we are constantly lied to & treated like children by not just politicians but the media; even the dishonest attacks on bankers & Sir Fred, done to divert anger from the government, has rebounded on them; & perhaps most importantly because people simply cannot be isolated & lied to because we now have the net (I would put the uncovering of Labour's campaign of lies & a feeling the Tories would have done the same as part of this as an effect of being able to communicate through the net); and very clever management of this by the Telegraph in both trailing the story in advance & doling it out day by day.

If anybody thinks this is just going to go away if the more dodgy MPs are dropped & everybody else just hangs on they are wrong. Except, theoretically, for the recession ending, all the other factors remain in place. When conditions exist for a storm there will be a storm though exactly where & when it strikes cannot be told. There are also other, in my opinion sometimes worse, scandals which could equally set alight - the millions Blair is making & Mark Thatcher made; councillor's expenses; the money quangoists get & the way such jobs are doled out; sexual relations between MPs & Parliamentary assistants of all sexes; the alleged 2 ministers & on a statistical basis half dozen MP's whose names went unmentioned in Operation Orr; cocaine use in parliament; even what booze cost in MPs & journalist's bars; worst in my opinion but possibly few other's the complicity of most MPs in racial genocide, child sex slavery & dissections of living people following the criminal Kosovo war.

Machiavelli said no government can survive being held in both Contempt and Hatred & if they want to stop things getting worse I suggest Parliament throws itself on the mercy of the "court of public opinion" who, when treated honestly & fairly will do the same.

Comments:
I disagree with you here - the MPs took the large expenses because they thought the voters wouldn't find out. The voters did find out, and most of the worst offenders won't be re-elected. No changes are needed to the system to prevent it happening again - any changes that are introduced are more likely to be aimed at keeping future excesses hushed up. This is a very rare example of a beneficial law (the freedom of information act) being passed and actually doing its job.
 
A jury system for parliment is by far the best way to have a 1st house, It is literaly, government of the people, by the people.

Politacal parties should be banned as should lobbying. Parties have there own agenders which are not those of the general public, and lobbying favors powerfull companies and their agenders which are not those of the general public.

Untill those things are addressed we shall not have an un-biased political system.
 
A jury system for parliment is by far the best way to have a 1st house, It is literaly, government of the people, by the people.

Politacal parties should be banned as should lobbying. Parties have there own agenders which are not those of the general public, and lobbying favors powerfull companies and their agenders which are not those of the general public.

Untill those things are addressed we shall not have an un-biased political system.
 
A jury system for parliment is by far the best way to have a 1st house, It is literaly, government of the people, by the people.

Politacal parties should be banned as should lobbying. Parties have there own agenders which are not those of the general public, and lobbying favors powerfull companies and their agenders which also are not those of the general public.

Untill those things are addressed we shall not have an un-biased political system.

A good example of the way in which politics is misdirecting governance is the way in which it is not good buisness to avoid damage to the planet because it is expensive.

ie, our species has, uniquely on this planet, invented a system to manipulate people (To impell them do stuff they dont nesseraly want to do) and give value to and store the work done. It is of course money.

Because we cant come to turns to our own invention, we will destroy the planet.

If there was less intervention by "vested interests" this situation would not occur.
 
That is an interesting idea Leon. I personally wouldn't want it for a first chamber because I am sufficiently elitist to want our leaders to average smarter than most of us but I could see this as a way of running a 2nd chamber with power to limit government My problem with 2 chambers is that they have to be selected in significantly different ways for there to be any point & yours would be a way to do so & yet keep both democratic.
 
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