In response to this thread, I argue that the reason why British politics is perceived to be so 'broken' is not because of the system - it's because voters are lazy.
There is this notion that the only way in which the people get to interact with politicians in Parliament is through the five-yearly vote at a General Election.
I put it to you all that this is only one aspect of our power - an important aspect, but not the only one.
There are plenty of ways in which we can interact and influence politicians - and politicians are keen to hear.
- MPs receive tons and tons of paperwork each week, so any written messages or emails will get lost in the pile (and most of it is mass-produced gumph). Far better to call up and make an appointment.
- In fact, most MPs hold weekly surgeries in their constituencies to hear the problems their constituents have.
- If this isn't successful (perhaps your MP is in favour of what ails you), Parliament collectively is powerful. The committees of either House routinely request public evidence to be submitted regarding new legislation, or the conduct of government departments. Again, they can't guarantee everyone will be heard (unrealistic), but they are required to ensure as fair-minded a hearing as possible.
- Lords are increasingly appreciated as a wildcard in parliament's affairs. They are less whipped and more likely to be convinced if the argument is good enough. They can start the debate in the chamber that could get the government to change its mind.
- Meeting ministers is difficult given their time constraints, but there are other avenues, such as lobbying.
- and yes, at the last resort, mass demonstrations are a crucial part of democratic expression.
I believe that the majority of those who think they are ignored let themselves be. They vote, and wonder why they aren't heard among 66 million people!
However, writing, calling, meeting, producing evidence to back up your claims is hard work, and therefore they aren't prepared the make the effort.
Therefore it is easier (and safer) for them to justify their laziness in the claim that it won't make a difference.
Democracy does not stop with the vote.
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