Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Democracy in action

We in the United Kingdom often describe our nation as 'one of the world's oldest democracies'. But in reality, the UK is not a democracy, neither is France, or the United States or even Switzerland. In fact no country in the world is a democracy - not a real democracy anyway.

A democracy is when the will of the people is enacted, where every decision is decided by the people. That's not what happens in our system of government. We don't make the decisions ourselves, we elect the people to make the decisions for us. Today those people who we elected just over a month ago said they want us to make some of the hard decisions, and in so doing brought us closer to being a real democracy.

Today the Chancellor said that the public will be consulted on where cuts in the government should be made. This is something rather unique in the UK, the idea that a government, faced with bringing pain to great sections of country, should ask the public what to do, instead of making unilateral decisions. The flaw in the plan is the flaw in democracy, which is those with the minority view get exclude. The highest population of the UK is in southern England, but most government spending is in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and northern England. Will public services be cut in the areas of lowest population, but perhaps the most need?

The other flaw in democracy is that if the wrong decision is made, the public only have themselves to blame, which is perhaps why the idea is so appealing to the government. If in five years time the public don't like the pain caused by the cuts, the government will just have to say 'but it only what you told us to do'!

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