Is our Democracy flawed? – Praneeth Lakshman, Tiffin Boys School – This is Local London
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Are we on a dangerous path?
Is our government inherently flawed?
Our government, inevitably, has a lot of flaws. Take for instance, the recent news of sleazing by the MP Owen Paterson. Or, if you can cast your memories back to a few months ago, the Greensill scandal of former Prime Minister David Cameron was first reported on. These two issues concern one idea in our politics, one that is both what gives democracy its power and its weakness simultaneously – the idea of lobbying.
Lobbying is very simply an action that tries to legally change the actions and bills of government officials. This is crucial for our democracy to function; it is just the act of persuasion in a lot of cases. However, more malignantly, it could also represent the act of private organisations trying to persuade MPs, not with ideas that necessarily concern the good of the people, but with the weight of the gold bag that is handed to them. This is a real problem and has often stopped legislation passing – for example, it was reported by the Guardian that:
The largest five stock market listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m (£153m) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.
Why does this happen? How do private companies influence our government? Political parties, first and foremost, need money to run their campaigns for elections (£8.6 million was spent last General Election by the Conservatives) and private companies have lots of money to spend – what they need is certain laws to be passed that helps their business generate more profit. So, as natural as the act of breathing, they start fulfilling each other’s needs and this results in the changes that regular people, like me and you, propose being ignored. This is the first flaw of democracy.
Another problem with democracy is something far more subtle and far more ingrained into our country – the voting system. If you didn’t know, the system that the UK (and the US, along with 61 other countries) use is called First Past the Post (FPTP). The procedure to vote in (FPTP) is very simple and quick – you are given a list of local candidates and you are asked to pick one. The party with the most candidates picked (usually) becomes the party in power, and their leader the leader of the country. However, this can be thought to be a flawed system. For example, a party without over 50% votes, but has more votes than any other party, can get into power. The question of if this is democratic or not can be left as an exercise to the reader, but what is certain is the fact that it creates divided nations and divided people. There isn’t a proper competitor to FPTP, but a notable mention is Proportional Representation (PR). PR essentially works by distributing the amount of seats accordingly to the amount of total votes cast for the party. While this seems more fair and just, it can be argued that this system creates coalition governments as a rule, rather than as a rarity (as by FPTP). This could slow down decisions passing in government but, in my opinion,.that extra time is worth the extra democracy. Overall, FPTP is the second flaw of democracy.
So what can we do? What we can do is educate ourselves and catch out when these systems do not behave ethically or morally. By being vigilant, we can prevent private companies from hindering the survival of our species for the sake of money and minority Prime Ministers being elected as the leader of our country. Thank you for reading this articles, and please leave your opinions in the comments below.
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