Socialist Worker

This is not true democracy

by Chris Bambery
Issue No. 2151

The stench of corruption surrounds the House of Commons. “Clear them all out,” is the popular sentiment.

Newspaper editorials and “constitutional experts” have responded by saying that, despite its flaws, the system is the best on offer and needs to be reformed rather than replaced.

Westminster is a gentleman’s club. It has been forced to admit women and a few black and Asian MPs, but it operates as a private club, with its own rules. It looks after its own.

It can vote to go to war, in defiance of overwhelming popular opinion, as it did over Iraq in 2003.

Whenever there is any questioning of how the parliamentary system or the state operates, those in charge kick dissent into the long grass with inquiries and reports carried out by people with a commitment to the system.

Former Labour minister Patricia Hewitt’s suggestion that citizens’ juries could decide on how MPs’ expenses are paid was met with laughter from the rest of parliament.

The speaker then told her to shut up.

But what is wrong with popular democracy? What is wrong with voters being able to hold those they elect to represent them to direct account?


We elect MPs every five years, but once elected we have no control over what they do.

They themselves have little direct control over the government.

The government exercises little control over the things that keep people awake at night – such as their jobs, homes or simply being able to pay the bills.

That’s a matter for “the economy” – in other words for big business, free from any popular control.

True democracy requires that all elected officials are directly responsible to those they represent.

They should be able to be immediately replaced if they go against our wishes. They should receive an income equal to the average wage nationally.

True democracy would also mean having the right to vote on matters like where investment should go and whether we want to spend our money bailing out bankers or on services.

Yet any suggestion of this brings outrage from the bosses and the political elite.

When we are told that this is the best democracy money can buy, it is a lie on every count.

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