But we used to have this

I do not want to abandon representative democracy. I want to see it balanced by popular sovereignty, especially the variety known as deliberative democracy. By contrast to the adversarial nature of representative democracy, in which politicians try to dominate and vanquish their opponents, deliberative democracy means drawing citizens together to solve problems. It means creating forums in which we listen respectfully to each other, seek to understand each other’s views, change our minds when necessary, and create the rich, informed democratic culture currently missing from national life.

That’s what pubs did. So, obviously, they got closed down.

Sigh. What does anyone think talking to the neighbours is if it isn’t deliberative democracy?

36 thoughts on “But we used to have this”

  1. With the greatest respct, nobody changes their mind, and someone always shouts and swears. Reasonableness wouldn’t be much fun, would it?

  2. There really is no answer to complaints about the political system, because what everyone wants is a system that allows their own point of view to dominate while excluding that of their opponents. Hence, when a majority agrees with you, you appeal to the will of the people, and when few do, you appeal to strong leadership and the ignorance of the masses.

    I’ve said for some time that my preferred solution would be to replace the House Of Lords with with a veto wielding assembly appointed by lottery, a principle we use in juries precisely to maximise the neutrality of the panel. And since nobody could force their way into it, they should be handsomely rewarded so that anyone from a duke to a char lady could afford to sit in it. Under it. On it. Whatever.

  3. IanB
    An excellent idea, but…
    Suppose 12 random “Lords”, 6 month shift, 5 year Parliament.
    Average voting pattern at GE is 35% L, 35% C, 30% other or abstain.
    What are the odds of getting 7 or more committed voters (for or against) from L or C on the panel?
    Someone here could do the maths.

  4. Echoing what IanB said, all of this “Citizen’s Assembly” stuff is a way for the lefties to stuff panels with their people.

    Juries are already unrepresentative because lots of people would rather not earn £65/day. If you’re a plasterer or a plumber, you’re losing a lot of money compared to working. Citizen’s Assemblies will be full of the people who have ample time to turn up. It’s like government consultations are stuffed full of replies from people working in various agencies, because they’re told about them by their employer. Joe Bloggs doesn’t. So 85% of people support some bansturbatory policy, when actually, about 500 people replied, most of them people involved in bansturbation.

  5. It took the English over a thousand years of disagreement, argument and civil war to come up with the system they have. Apparently, George knows better.

  6. philip, good point, but I’m not sure the maths actually matters, in that the Lords isn’t the executive. Given a six month term for members, then the voting patterns in the Lords could be more volatile than those in the Commons, but that depends on the actual legislative timeframes as whether there’d be an effect.

  7. Bloke on M4

    I wasn’t recommending a progressive style “citizens assembly”, I was recommending that people be appointed for a term. That’s why I advise rewarding them very generously. There would not be many of them and the costs would be negligible compared to the other shit the State spunks our money away on. Point is there would be no way for Jemima Wynde-Turbine from Snobs Against Chavs Going On Holiday to blag her way onto it. Into it. Whatever.

    Phillip-

    I was thinking a much larger assembly, couple of hundred maybe so you’ve got a reasonable sample to smooth out the probability. I’m minded towards 2 year terms, reappointing half each year.

  8. This is the latest U Gov election prediction
    Con 37
    Lab 22
    Lib 19
    Grn 7
    Brx 11

    SNP/other …

    This is the is the lest electoral calculus seat prediction ( based on slightly different results but comparable to some extent )
    Con 34.5 354
    Lab 25.7 195
    Lib 17.5 31
    Brexit / Green 16.2..maybe one
    SNP3.2 48

    The problem we now have is that Boris Johnson will hold a Parliament versus people election knowing a small but persistent majority oppose Brexit entirely , he will lose the popular vote but inflict lasting harm on the country with a vast majority

    I appreciate the good side of direct election , why else do you think a small majority Parliament opposes Brexit , it is because they have to face real electors . Nonetheless if we do not change this system the country can never truly be at peace

  9. Newmania-

    Here’s the question. When you have some matter of great importance which strongly divides opinion, and each side of which debate believe that the other’s policy will cause terrible ruin (Corn Laws, Irish Home Rule, Nationalisation, Privatisation, Brexit) is there any good system?

    Bear in mind that in these cases, each side *believes* that their own view is essential and the other’s is ruinous, based on speculation regarding inherently unknowable future effects.

  10. Monbiot is a tosser and I suspect anything he says very deeply. But… all politicians are tossers too and I suspect them very deeply also. There is far too much power concentrated in Westminster. Yes parliament should be sovereign – but much of its work and much of the power it wields can and should be devolved to lower layers. It’s the ‘one size fits all and I know best’ nature of our politics that prevents learning and discovery. Why can’t, for example, we devolve drug taking laws to the next level down. We’d have direct comparative examples of what works and what doesn’t and soon enough lower layers would choose the outcome their electorates demand. And not a single nanny in Westmister telling us the right answer. I’m all for a much more federated UK and a weaker centre.

  11. ‘deliberative democracy means drawing citizens together to solve problems’

    And if you don’t have any problems, you’ll create some.

    ‘It means creating forums in which we listen respectfully to each other’

    No matter how stupid their idea is.

    Moonbeam wants government by high school debate team.

  12. Born of frustration at the existing regime our local metropolis was subject to a populist non-party-political takeover earlier this year. Will be interesting to see how it develops. Regretfully most people can’t be arsed, given they are too busy getting on with their lives – can’t spare the sort of time that would enable them to engage sufficiently to contribute to an “informed, nuanced politics”. Monbiot’s citizen assemblies would likely be unduly influenced by a cadre of self-selecting arseholes who like the sound of their own voice and have nothing better to do. If the standoff in my local pub between Remainers and Leavers is a guide, the chances of creating “forums in which we listen respectfully to each other” in a naive and unachievable goal. Both sides would much rather kick the fuck out of each other.

  13. Further to my original dismissal, there seems to be a naive perspective in the article of how people reach their opinions and how they defend them. In fact our opinions usually come partly-formed from our unconscious mind. They are formed from instinct and prejudice. Then the conscious mind moulds them into something it can defend, never pausing to consider whether the opinion is right. The more intelligent you are the easier it is to be wrong and to justify that position infinitely despite any argument to the contrary. Nobody changes their mind, not even the apocryphal Keynes. And you can’t tell anybody anything to convince them if their unconscious has a position. Haidt calls the conscious the rider on the elephant of the unconscious. The rider can try to guide the elephant, but it can always do what it wants despite him.

  14. Any pious spouting from Moonbat about the nature of democracy can be ignored because he’s fucking lying and he doesn’t believe in it for a moment. He wants rule by committees made up of him and people like him, an authoritarian lefty quangocracy. Although I’m sure in his ideal system there’d be some thinly-disguised focus groups to persuade the ‘low-information’ citizen his views are noted.

  15. Patrick
    We’re all in favour of devolved powers, in theory.
    How would it work, though, if there was a free market in drugs in Swindon, pimping was legal in Birmingham and bank interest was usury in Rotherham?
    As for the enormous fiscal transfers to Scotland…

  16. Monbiot’s citizen assemblies would likely be unduly influenced by a cadre of self-selecting arseholes who like the sound of their own voice and have nothing better to do.

    cf. local councillors.

  17. Ian B
    A Creationist could make the same case, I do not , myself , think that what people may or may not believe is the only criteria for deciding what is right and what is wrong . Evidence and authoritative opinion used to count for something….
    Leaving that aside if no system is perfect surely we can do better .Don`t you think it was deeply damaging that the socially conservative working class were submerged entirely in a left”Liberal ” Party. UKIP surely should have had fair representation with 4m votes and the 50 SNP tail wagging the dog with about 3% of the vote is absurd
    If you take Europe and with it a collective wish to oppose economic and social liberalism would it not have been so much better if these views had been heard debated , respected and been obliged not to talk rubbish in secret to fellow believers
    I believe this is not an extreme or disagreeable country however much fun the Press and the players have with it I think a reasonable way through this disaster might have been bashed out over a period years if everyone`s voice had been heard.

  18. “authoritative opinion used to count for something….””
    If you’re talking about the over credentialed output of the education system, being able to count would be start.

  19. Dennis, Hectoring Pendant

    Shorter version, and much like Owen’s, unsurprisingly: “I’m all for democracy, provided I always win.”

  20. “…my preferred solution would be to replace the House Of Lords with with a veto wielding assembly appointed by lottery, a principle we use in juries precisely to maximise the neutrality of the panel.”

    1. Juries hear both sides, and then receive a judicial summary. How would a lottery-appointed second chamber get a balanced view, given that many would be sub-literate?

    2. As high-earners, parents, private sector employees, the frail elderly etc couldn’t readily move into temporary accommodation in London for long Parliamentary sessions – not even with huge recompense – many of those able to attend would be the unemployed, students, benefit junkies, public sector workers, etc. Leading to gross bias…

    3. Scrutiny of legislation requires time, effort and memory. A revising chamber appointed by lot would lose the thread of extended legislation and lack institutional memory.

  21. Given current technology is there a need for all of them to be in London and physically attend the chamber?
    Remote working either from home or even setting up a small office nearby them would work, throw in an expense paid trip to London once a month if need be and you’re done.

  22. We don’t need to rip up all that went before.

    We just need to make it difficult to ignore the general populace in specific instances of ridiculous overstep. Parliament is too big a concentration of power without oversight.

    Things we could do : –
    Term limits in the Lord’s and Commons.
    Directly elect the head of government / state.
    Citizen initiated binding referenda Swiss style,
    Less unwritten constitution….
    Parliament confirms supreme court appointments.
    The Chartists recommended annual General elections.
    Restricted parliamentary time.

    Personally I trust random people more than politicians, but we are well past an age when we pack and old man off on a donkey to London for a six day journey.

    I like the idea of Swiss style direct democracy…. Perhaps just as a veto?

    Any system is saved by the lack of trust across the country right now.

    Whatever we do right now, the political classes are not fearful enough!

  23. “Less unwritten constitution….”

    Exactly! The FIRST thing is to define the roles of government, and place EVERYTHING ELSE OFF LIMITS.

    Government has NO DAMN BUSINESS worrying about ‘hate speech’ or ‘transgender pronouns’
    or the trans fat content of chips.

    The government might say, “We don’t like trans fat in chips.” But it is beyond their authority to ban trans fat in chips.

  24. The solution is easy but politically impossible:

    1) people who for the last say 3-5 years have received more from the government than they’ve paid in (benefits, salaries, etc) have a conflict of interest so should not vote or be allowed to seek politicial appointments

    2) people keep guns at home so that the government is afraid of the people again (like in Switzerland and to a smaller extent the US)

  25. @philip
    We’re all in favour of devolved powers, in theory.
    How would it work, though, if there was a free market in drugs in Swindon, pimping was legal in Birmingham and bank interest was usury in Rotherham?

    Yes to that.
    Council elections would get interesting for starters. Devolve everything to the lowest level is what I say. Let Hartlepool have a minimum wage of £7/hr and let Middlesbrough have one of £4/hr for the disabled, and the refugees with no skills. Let the locals decide. They might even through trial and error converge on some optimal local policy that maximises economic freedom while preventing employers taking the piss.
    The main people who might object to devolution are already minded to oppose migration for a better life for themselves.

  26. Moonbat should be handed over to gypo’s, –he doesn’t like gypo’s: he thought he did until he actually met some –to dispose of in anyway they find the most amusing.

    While I think on Facepainter should be thrown in as a job lot. Which of the two would be in the worse company for their demise would make for a 100+ comment debate.

  27. Reading a series at the moment where the world is divided into micro-democracies called centennals, basically boundaries are drawn for every 100,000 people and each one can have their own govt. or group together etc.
    After each election there’s a free movement period when people can chose which area and govt to live in without visa restrictions etc.
    Was recommended it and turned out to be an much more interesting read than I thought it would be.

  28. philip,

    “We’re all in favour of devolved powers, in theory.
    How would it work, though, if there was a free market in drugs in Swindon, pimping was legal in Birmingham and bank interest was usury in Rotherham?”

    Just fine. That’s like a lot of Europe. People in Belgium take the train to Amsterdam to smoke weed.

    I don’t think you want laws set at the level of the Unitary Swindon Authority as that’s far too small, but Wessex? Thames Valley? Why not.

  29. @Mr Ecks – re monbiot and gypos – any link to the article where he comes face to face with reality?On topic i note he trumpets citizen engagement in Porto Alegre Some 50000 people a year contributed – but forgets to mention the population is 1 million plus.If we presume 50+ are adults then that’s 1 in 10 who engaged. – we can guess who made up the one in ten.

  30. Thanks for feedback
    But I implied a different point.
    A law must be understood by all (ignorance of the law is no excuse) and a law must apply to all in the nation.
    Otherwise, it isn’t a nation.
    What’s not a crime in Wessex but you move to Sussex and it becomes one, then it becomes excusable. Should you be held to the law of your domicile where you learnt what was crime, or expected to conform to a kaliedescope of regulations as you move around the nation?
    There are lots of laws, and slicing and dicing them will lead to more crime (or “crime”).

  31. @Newmania “I do not , myself , think that what people may or may not believe is the only criteria for deciding what is right and what is wrong . Evidence and authoritative opinion used to count for something”

    The evidence and authoritative opinion to be supplied by you and people who agree with you, of course.

  32. @philip
    ‘The Law’ covers a host of subjects from homicide to parking. We’d all (I assume) favour the former being centralised and be relaxed about local latitude for the latter. The question is where you draw a dividing line – Magistrates vs Crown Court?

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