Eroding democracy in the name of democracy

BBC: Blair plan for 'people's panels'

The prime minister has called for "people's panels" to help push through key public service reforms.

Tony Blair says the panels will be made up of members of the public who will be asked to advise ministers on the most difficult areas of policy.

This is so depressing.

The reason we appoint members of parliament is to give them our proxy votes when making exactly these sorts of decisions. At times, we naively hope that they might actually vote as intelligent, thoughtful individuals, rather than along party lines. If we don't like the way they vote, we reserve the right not to vote for them again. It's not a particularly good system for making decisions, but it sort of works.

Now Blair wants to corral 100 panel members to advise our elected representatives on how they should be using their proxy votes. Who will choose these 100 super-voters, do you reckon? Do you think they'll be chosen at random, or might the Prime Minister possibly have more than a little say in their selection?

I don't want people's panels advising my representative on my behalf, thank you very much. If I feel strongly enough about a particular issue, I'll contact my MP directly. That's how it's supposed to work. Your typical member of the British public (as represented on Blair's new panels—if they really are chosen at random) is a tabloid-reading, lager-drinking, europhobic reality TV-viewer, who thinks it's a disgrace they got rid of the death penalty, is paranoid about asylum-seekers getting into the water supply, thinks wind-powerstations are going to solve our energy needs, and cares more about the death of Pauline Fowler than what has been going on in Darfur.

If I wanted ill-informed, unelected buffoons making decisions on my behalf, I'd be a royalist.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

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