To get things changed for the better we need politicians to agree to sharing power with the people. As elected individuals, they have to listen when their consitutents express conern about an issue. So if you want to let them know why you support our campaign, you can use a website called www.writetothem.com which can tell you who your MP is based on your postcode, and then allows you to send them a message directly from that website.
So what are the key arguments in favour of local and national referendums?
- The Power Inquiry showed how impotent people feel when it comes to influencing decisions taken by those in power. Action has to be taken to tackle falling turnout and lack of trust in the political system. That is what OUR SAY’s proposals seek to achieve.
- Our democracy is still based around a crude system developed in the last century - women were only given the vote in the 1920s. The way we make collective decisions is now hopelessly outdated and unfit for 21st century Britain. It is no longer enough just to give people a vote once every five years. People have a huge range of choices in every other aspect of their lives so why not allow them to have a say over the most important political issues that affect them and their communities?
- By setting a very high threshold – a million signatures for a national referendum – to trigger a vote, OUR SAY’s proposals would give people a say only over major issues of public interest. Elected MPs and councillors would continue to make most decisions – even in Switzerland 88% of all laws are passed without referendums.
Note: Please use this as a guide and don't simply "cut & paste" it into the form - write something in your own words. MPs are more impressed by unique letters and it will ensure that we're taken more seriously.
Please email your MP today!
Do you want to "punish" the PM?
Ever wanted to make politicians feel the true impact of their policies? Or think that too many MPs live in their own world, isolated from the daily experiences of the rest of the population? Over-crowded tubes, dangerous streets, endless tax bills... the list is endless. Well, now you have the chance to get your own back. OUR SAY has developed a new website that lets you make Gordon Brown live in the real world - and you can sign our petition to support citizens initiatives at the same time. So if you want to "punish" the PM, click here.
Gordon Brown endorses Citizens Initiatives at a local level
In his first major speech on constitutional changes, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has given a clear indication of his support for Citizens Initiatives at a local level. Gordon Brown proposed in the speech on 3rd July that people would be able to initiate changes at a local level through a new "community right to call for action" as well as new powers to give electors a vote on spending decisions over neighbourhood and youth budgets. In September, the Conservatives produced similar proposals, again endorsing local referendums, in their Quality of Life policy proposals.
Zac Goldsmith endorses local referendums
The renowned environmental campaigner, Zac Goldsmith, has backed local referendums as a means of giving people a say over community wide issues. In an article in the Daily Telegraph, Zac Goldsmith argues that planning issues are the best type of decision to be made by local polls. To read the full article, click here.
More Democracy = More Happiness
A new study by Professor Matt Qvortrup has established a link between direct democracy and happiness. The study, entitled the Voting Happiness Index, found that people living US states that used Citizens' Initiatives were significantly happier than those that did not use this form of direct democracy. Click here for the full story.
Put road pricing to public vote
The Government should put any road pricing proposals to a public vote following the news that one million people had signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street e-petition website opposing a road pricing scheme. Saira Khan thinks that letting the public decide would ensure that all the arguments were properly debated and would be a real legacy for the Prime Minister to leave. For the full story click here. Read Charles Moore's piece on the issue in this week's Spectator or Martin Bright in the New Statesman. Saira has also written a piece in The Guardian.
Why not support OUR SAY's petition for Citizens' Initiatives - you can log onto Downing Street's website here.
Time for supply side politics?
The Centre for Policy Studies has published a new pamphlet, Supply side politics, advocating the introduction of Citizens' Initiatives as a way of tackling disillusionment with democracy. The book is written by Professor Matt Qvortrup and argues that if Britain were to introduce this form of direct democracy it would increase turnout and improve the quality of political decisions. Copies of the book are available from the CPS website or more information here or read Peter Riddell's piece in The Times.
Helena Kennedy supports Citizens' Initiatives to revive democracy
Helena Kennedy has backed Citizens Initiatives to help revive democracy in Britain. Her support came as part of the launch of a new campaign - makeitanissue - around the proposals contained in the Power Inquiry's report last year. In an article in The Independent, she argues that it is time for politicians to share some power: "from climate change to crime, people want a proper debate and want contribute to decisions". Read Helena's article in The Independent here or log onto the Power Inquiry's campaign here.
Campaign launch wins support
OUR SAY was launched in September 2006 to push for much greater use of referendums on issues of public interest. The campaign is the brainchild of Saira Khan, star of The Apprentice and commentator on current affairs. Saira's article in The Times - click here - outlines how "citizen's initiatives" offer a constructive way of giving people a renewed stake in the democratic process at a time when confidence in politics in Britain is at a low ebb. The campaign has attracted supporters from across the political spectrum.