Making democracy work
What makes for a good democracy? Perhaps one of the most important parts of democracy is the process of cause and effect; the cause is our vote and the effect is the action taken by the people we elect. Of course things are never this simple. Unpopular action is often needed to achieve popular or essential outcomes. Historically, political parties have come into being in order to ‘package up’ a set of mutually consistent policies to resolve these two sides of the coin. Mutual consistency between policies, however, now seems to come a poor second to the need for instant gratification. Policy making by ‘focus group’.
Parish Councils, joyously freed in many cases from the burden of modern party politics, can get a bit closer to the ideal. They are both local enough and practical enough to demonstrate true democracy in action, especially if their members can rise above personal interests and act for their community as whole. For this to happen they must be voted into place - and equally be voted out when the time comes - and they must be clear about what they are seeking to achieve for their whole community. Unlike almost any other elected authority the feedback loop is sufficiently tight for them to be judged on whether they have succeeded. Perhaps it is a form of democracy so good that our urban areas deserve to have a share in it? In Sussex perhaps some of the major towns with the most identiable neighbourhoods would be a good place to start.