The Blog

Democracy: Politicians Should Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

For a democracy to work there has to be a way to hold politicians to their words. That has long been the job of elections. If one party doesn't do the people's will, throw them out and elect another.

PM David Cameron says he's the only real choice the UK has regarding the long promised referendum on EU membership. But, the voters will still have to wait until after the next General Election to have that ballot. And, as we have seen from Tony Blair to the present, un-kept promises from politicians is a prime weakness of this and other democracies.

Five-years-ago in America President Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison and he also said would create thousands of new jobs with massive public works projects across the nation. Neither of these commitments has been realized.

In these tough economic times when no political party has the cure-all for the national malaise and all the voters get are un-kept promises, isn't it long past time for politicians to put their money where their mouths are?

For a democracy to work there has to be a way to hold politicians to their words. That has long been the job of elections. If one party doesn't do the people's will, throw them out and elect another.

However, Britain finds itself in a political dilemma. Despite majority popular support for an EU referendum (There is broad popular support for leaving the union to altering the terms of membership) Labour and the Liberal Democrats are dead set against having one. This leaves Cameron as the only choice. But do people trust him? Why wait until after the next election to find out if he is trust worthy.

But what about the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)? Getting the UK out of Europe is its main commitment. And it's surging in popularity. Isn't it the democratic alternative to the major parties? Yes, it is. But alternative parties tend to be protest movements whose best hope is to win some seats forcing a hung parliament and possible power sharing. For UKIP this is far from a certainty. And it still means waiting for another election.

There are two other more effective ways of getting the party in power to heed the people's will...but who has the will and the nerve to back them?

• At the start of every general election campaign, the major political parties should be required to put up a large sum of money to be held in surety against their manifesto promises. The defeated parties will get their money back. But the party in power won't unless they make good on any number their key promises.

• Not good enough you say? What's a few million to the Tories? Then how about this, have a law passed that would allow voters to seek a snap recall election if the people's will or their faith in the party is ignored. This is democracy and the only way to put the fear of God into politicians, other than having them accused of sex crimes.

Like it or not true democracy in any large nation is an illusion. Political parties tend to operate for their own hedonistic desires in the name of the people. With regards to the EU membership controversy this is best illustrated by the undemocratic Liberal Democrats who will back EU membership no matter what the people want. That's a main reason why their stock is falling rapidly as UKIP's is rising. And there is no proof UKIP would make good on its promises if it gained any sort of power.

With the very future of the UK now being decided by a foreign power (the EU), and the British population alarmed by this and demanding action, radical legislation may be needed to save the state from the "super state."

The apparent moribund nature of the current political scene means democracy may have to be sidelined a bit longer. Still, the growing movement within the PM's cabinet for a vote on the matter sooner rather than later may prevail. But a main reason for this isn't about democracy; it's about quelling a new political force.

Waiting until after the next General Election would allow UKIP to campaign and possibly win a large share of the vote during the election, increasing the possible hung parliament scenario. By holding a referendum now would take all the wind out of UKIP's lone one issue main sail and hopefully for the Tories, all but destroy the pesky party.

This way the voters and Tories would get what they want: Democracy?