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- Why do we need a new party?
- Shouldn’t we focus on one reform at a time rather than introducing several all at once?
- Don’t we need a constitutional convention to decide exactly what reforms the public wants?
- What chance is there that a new party will be able to make a difference?
- What are Local Sovereignty’s policies on the everyday issues that politicians generally deal with?
1. Why do we need a new party?
The charitable answer is that mainstream politicians have to be focused on what can be done within the current framework because they’re constantly dealing with issues that demand immediate answers. They therefore don’t have time to think in depth about possible flaws in the system and find it hard to appreciate the potential benefits of constitutional reform.
Conversely, once people have recognised that our political system is fundamentally flawed they also see that every solution put forward within the established framework simply shifts problems from one area to another. That makes it hard for them to think productively within the current system; every problem is seen in the light of how it might be solved if only the fundamental problems weren’t there. As a result, reformers have difficulty being fully engaged with the established system.
This means many of the most imaginative political thinkers are unable to operate within the political mainstream. Most of those who stay within it therefore tend to be people who can’t, or won’t, recognise the deeper problems (along with a small number of mavericks who don’t see any other possibility of reform apart from working within the system). The more problems there are, and the more widely recognised they are, the more there is a tendency for blinkered thinking within the political establishment.
As well as being a way of choosing representatives, elections should also be a way of demonstrating the level of support there is for alternatives. So, unless there is a party focused on radical reform, there is no effective way of establishing how much public support there is for it.
2. Shouldn’t we focus on one reform at a time rather than introducing several new reforms all at once?
There are two obvious problems with one-step-at-a-time reform: one is that no single step will be transformative on its own (and therefore won’t draw high levels of public support), and the second is that reformers can’t agree which step should be taken first. It also means that the only viable reforms are ones which can be slotted into the existing system
Our platform of reform, and our commitment to dissolve ourselves once our purpose is achieved, allows us to stand as a party of transformation. We may not achieve every one of our objectives but, by raising a flag for reformers to rally round, we should be able to force reform onto the political agenda.
3. Don’t we need a constitutional convention to decide exactly what reforms the public wants?
People have been talking about the need for constitutional reform for a great many years and a lot of worthwhile ideas have been put forward, and subjected to analysis and refinement. But, without a real possibility of reform being implemented, talking can become a way of avoiding problems rather than a way of tackling them.
The existence of a party with a clear manifesto and an intention to put up candidates for election creates a possibility of winning power (however remote our preconceptions tell us that may be). That possibility of power energises the debate, and the party itself becomes a platform where the debate can take place. (Setting up an online forum will be a top priority once the party is launched.)
Local Sovereignty’s initial manifesto is the party founder’s vision of what changes are needed. But none of it is set in stone, not even the policies that can’t be dropped or significantly amended without the agreement of the founding members. Anyone who can put forward reasoned arguments for why alternative policies would be better will be able to influence the final manifesto that the party fights an election on.
Effectively, the Local Sovereignty party is itself an on-going ‘constitutional convention’ that will ask the electorate to endorse the result of its deliberations at the next general election.
4. What chance is there that a reform party will be able to make a difference?
The short answer is: None at all if it doesn’t exist!
Prejudice and cynicism says that the established parties and their supporters have it all stitched up and the public is too much locked into the current groove to vote for a radical alternative in any numbers. But we think the events of 2016 have trumped that view.
After the Brexit vote, and the shambles that has followed it, we believe there’s a reasonable chance that a party with a coherent platform of reforms could have a significant effect on the outcome of the next election and an outside chance that it could attract enough support to get a Commons majority. But even just getting a strong share of the vote will demonstrate the public appetite for reform and that in itself will affect how the other parties position themselves.
5. What are Local Sovereignty’s policies on the everyday issues that politicians generally deal with?
We will be offering representation to the people who believe the current system is irredeemably flawed, so won’t be trying to compete for the votes of those who believe existing parties can provide effective government within the established framework.
We do have positions on a number of ever-present issues, however, because many of the problems government spends endless hours on are the result of quasi-constitutional failings, as discussed for example in our pages on Derelict Law and Monetary Reform.
5.1 If Local Sovereignty isn’t able to implement its reforms, how will its MPs vote on everyday issues?
The party will not impose any policies on candidates except the reform policies that are in our manifesto at the time of the election. However, candidates will generally be selected by local constituency members (unless there are too few of them to form a constituency party) so we hope they would respect the views of the constituency.
5.2 If Local Sovereignty does win a majority at a general election, it will take some time for those reforms to go through and, while that’s happening, the world will continue to throw up problems that call for an immediate response. How will the party govern during that transition?
We anticipate that opposition parties will continue informing the world at large what they think the government should be doing – as, no doubt, will newspaper editors and columnists. We probably wouldn’t follow the Daily Mail’s counsel as diligently as the present administration, but we’re confident there’ll be no shortage of alternative advice. We might even find that there are people in the Civil Service who have some understanding of the kinds of issues which will arise. We’ll manage.