Politicians don’t trust people, so people don’t trust politicians: Is Brexit behind the scrapping of local democracy plans?
- Direct democracy project responds to scrapping of “deliberative democracy” pilots.
- “It’s hard not to see Brexit being behind this decision. Politicians have seen what happens if they ask people what they really think and they do not like it one little bit”.
A direct democracy project has slammed the government’s dismantling of plans to use citizens’ assemblies and local polls to get voters more engaged with politics in the wake of the Brexit deadlock.
Ministers last summer revealed plans for “deliberative democracy” pilots, which would have seen local councils given £60,000 to run citizens’ juries or online polls in a bid to reach out to local voters over controversial or major issues.
Almost 100 councils are believed to have expressed an interest, with 25 submitting applications for projects listening to locals thoughts, wants and needs on everything from hate crime, to congestion, to revitalising town centres.
The government has now reduced the project to three consultation projects, dropping any plans to put controversial issues to local people, with one source quoted as attributing the change of heart to “deep-seated fears about giving the public a greater democratic voice in the context of Brexit”
The makers of new direct democracy app Rate Your Leader – whose mission is to take back democracy using technology – have been left dismayed by the change of plan.
Rate Your Leader lets local people identify and contact their elected representatives at the touch of a button, direct from their phones or tablets.
The platform also allows politicians to engage only with voters in their constituencies in an abuse-proof way, helping them truly understand what matters most to the people who elect them.
“It’s hard not to see Brexit being behind this decision. Politicians have seen what happens if they ask people what they really think and they do not like it one little bit.
“The irony is that a lack of trust in the political establishment was a key driver for Brexit. Politicians don’t trust people, so people don’t trust politicians.
“Less than one in four voters are likely to turn out in May’s local elections – with a democratic deficit like that the government should be bending over backwards to create more opportunities to get local people more involved in local decision-making.
“Apps like Rate Your Leader give voters and the politicians the power to connect with the touch of a button, but it shouldn’t be left to us. The political establishment needs to show a lead on reconnecting electors and the elected.”
Rate Your Leader is free to download from the Apple and Google Play marketplaces.