Of the People, by the People, for the People

Posted: 15 November 2010, in Blog

My latest social enterprise idea is to establish a Scottish electoral proposition operation. I’m inspired by American democracy and the increasing involvement of people in the democratic process through their local referenda/plebiscite systems at the individual State levels.

The Yanks are at their Presidential mid term polls as I write and in truth, I’m more interested in their processes than their increasingly obnoxious and inane politics. What I like about the Yanks though is that they get the distinction between the State and communities. Maybe Cameron’s Big Society will lead us there with its notions of localism.

Anyway, Californians will vote today on their legalising cannabis proposition and Oklahomans will attempt to ban Sharia Law – apparently before it gets there! (I know what you are thinking). I predict the dope vote will get rejected but I’ve no comprehension of what Oklahomans will “do” about Sharia Law.

What interests me is that the Yanks get really engaged in the democratic process – warts and all, and in a way our politicians would really hate. Our parliament has instead a diddy public petition option. Trust us to find the least challenging and effective way to instigate change. The Scottish Cringe – wha’s like us eh?

No. My enterprise idea is to help citizens put referenda to the Scottish public at election time and in a manner that means the Parliament and Local Councils would have to act on the results or tell us why they reject them.

The business would charge fees for services necessary to run referenda (clients could be councils, businesses, trade bodies and associations or campaign groups) but would not get involved in the campaigning efforts of proponents and opponents. A minimum set of numerical requirements and the existing law would prevent racist, homophobic, sectarian etc measures being offered to the electorate.

What I would like to see of course is a politician or member of the commentariat tell us that we Scots are too thick to handle this (aka the 2007 election counting cock up defence), or that certain issues could inflame public opinion or would be unworkable. The latter 2 points are code of course for their fear of us holding politicians to account and forcing them to do what we want rather than the other way around. The Edinburgh trams anyone?

Just think, instead of the Coalition selling our manifesto primarily to politicians, their party aides and the media, we could sell it direct to the electorate.

Proposition 1. We demand that the Scottish Government and every Local Authority in Scotland adopt the entire SSEC manifesto – now would you vote for that?