In the previous post we talked about what democracy is and the extent to which America is democratic. In this post, we shall talk about the extent to which the UK is Democratic.
The UK strives to achieve the Trustee Model of Representation as established by Edmund Burke in the 18th Century. Representation is a key element of a democratic society and the UK truly does work to be representative: the Members of Parliament represent our interests, the House of Commons represents the national interest and pressure groups represent different sections of society.
However, although there are many access points for representation there is a severe issue with the true extent of representation and democracy. In the 1992 election, the turnout was 77.7%, but in 2010 the turnout had decreased to 65.1%. Furthermore, in the 2011 referendum, the turnout was a meagre 44.4%. This makes us ask the question: Are the views of the public truly being represented? If turnout is less than 50% then less than half the population are giving the government consent and a mandate to make decisions. If the people aren’t getting involved then the country cannot be that democratic… BUT, are they getting involved?
Although, party identification has decreased and party membership has decreased (2.5million decrease in the Conservative party since the 1980s), people are finding representation and democracy in pressure groups. In the past 30 years, people are finding getting involved in politics easier by getting in grassroots groups and opinion pages (as well as websites like this one, otherwise known as e-democracy). The Countryside Alliance boast a membership of 400,000 people representing the views and interests of those who live in the countryside (see previous post!). They have led campaigns and demonstrations mobilising hundreds of thousands of people. The people can voice their opinion and get their views represented in these groups. The Countryside Alliance, for example, have direct access and can scrutinise policy in the relevant governmental department.
What are your view on democracy?
Thanks for reading,