As Tim Montgomerie recently reported, a new campaign called Direct Democracy has been launched. The campaign is based on the book Direct Democracy, the localist papers, and The Plan, all by Douglas Carswell MP and Dan Hannan MEP and it aims to shift governmental powers back from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to town halls, from the state to the citizens.
Localism is the key to making the idea of direct democracy a reality in Britain. Local councillors of all parties have played a part in making positive changes in their local communities. It is at the local level that we see that direct democracy can work because councillors know their community and are accountable to it. Nothing can compare to a councillor walking down the street and bumping into a resident who has an issue with a street light being out for some time or needs a question answered about local recycling. But this is nothing new and shouldn’t be.
Direct Democracy is keen to help make sure that the ideas of democracy are being enacted at a local level. We are keeping abreast of changes to the law as they come about and are campaigning for even more democratic reform. We have started to work with several local citizen groups on issues affecting their area – from primary elections to parent founded local schools. And we do hope that when citizens’ initiatives become law, we can help those citizens who want to use initiatives to make a change in their local community.
However much we can get involved, though, it is local councillors who will make the most difference to democratic changes in their community and in local government. Eric Pickles is tasked with making sure that localism really happens in this Coalition Government and Direct Democracy is going to support those ideas of reform that bring greater democracy and autonomy to local communities, but it is up to all councillors to make it happen and work with local residents to ensure that it does happen in a way that works for their community.