Readers will be aware that I am an advocate of FlexCit and direct democracy (including the ideas encapsulated in The Harrogate Agenda.
Unfortunately I am unable to accept the proposal that referendums should be only advisory (paragraph 4: http://harrogateagenda.org.uk/blogview.aspx?blogno=83222).
If we are to adopt the principles of direct democracy then referendums are the only means whereby we, the people, can instruct our government to enact the will of the people; and as such they, if accepted, must be binding.
What, therefore, is the reason for an ‘advisory’ referendum? Politicians have a long history of ignoring the will of the people – have we not had enough of politicians ignoring the will of the people?
For The Harrogate Agenda to write: “However, compelling legislatures to frame laws in response to popular demand is problematical. It can create inconsistencies and anomalies within the legal code, and contravene treaties……A greater handicap, though, is that the process is prone to abuse by well-funded or dedicated single-issue groups, and by the popular press or television. This exposes law-making to rule of the mob. Giving the public direct access to the law-making process can end up in petty tyranny.“; is, I believe, a tad misconceived and being economical with the actualité.
As of December 2015 a look back in Swiss history shows that voters have had the final say on a total of 198 proposals since the introduction in the late 19th century of the right to launch initiatives, amending the constitution. Only 22 of them have won approval so far. (Source) which is 11.111%. Hardly ‘mob rule’, methinks.
On the foregoing point, take a look at this graph showing how Swiss voters have had the opportunity of dictating the future of their nation. Hover your mouse over each section of each part of each bar in every graph to see the power the people of Switzerland have over virtually every aspect of their lives (and note how each has either been accepted or rejected; also that the number accepted is once again a small percentage?). What is not to like? The people of Switzerland have far more control over their government, be that local or national, than we do in the United Kindom. Again, what is not to like?
In view of the foregoing, do I detect, among those that wrote the Demands of The Harrogate Agenda, an attempt to limit the ability of the people – were direct democracy to be the norm – to decide their own future? I sincerely hope not.
The Harrogate Agenda was conceived as a people’s movement, so how come what was conceived as a people’s movement appears to be dictated to? Is the ‘control factor’ still alive among those who would guide us, in view of the fact that we are informed the 6 Demands are ‘set in stone’?