Monday, 7 May 2012

Checks and Balances

Democracy gives us checks and balances and stops power being held by a few people - or at least it should because if power is held by small groups or individuals then it has a different name like oligarchy or dictatorship. One check is to make sure that the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are independent. Another method is to make sure there is at least one choice for voters. Another method is to give power to larger groups of elected individuals who do not have to follow party lines. In the opposite direction you would give power to a cabinet or an individual like a prime minister or a mayor.

Yesterday, in the Sunday Politics from the North West, the new mayor of Salford, Ian Stewart was asked about engaging the electorate as so few had voted for a mayor. He said that actions enthuse the electorate, but his actions can come back to bite him. I presume he means that if he goes against the wishes of the voters then he will not be elected next time. I don't know if this comes as news to Ian but he should go to the bookies and see if they are taking bets on a non-Labour mayor - ever. He doesn't have to persuade the electorate, he just has to keep the core Labour activists happy.

So if you want to make democracy weaker and think that an oligarchy or dictatorship may be better for society then maybe it's time to vote for a mayor. Even better, let the councillors in places like Liverpool impose their Labour mayor.

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