Leading political thinker Vernon Bogdanor praises his old pupil David Cameron for aiming to spread power to the people. Existing reforms like devolution, he says
have done little to counteract widespread disenchantment with politics. The reason is clear. Constitutional reform has so far redistributed power only between elites, not between elites and the people. It has redistributed power “downwards” to politicians in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and London, “sideways” to the Lords and the judges interpreting the Human Rights Act. But it has not redistributed power to the voter.
The Stormont model, he might have added, was specifically designed to force the leadership of opposing groups together. The weakness of this consociational version of democracy ( if you can call it democracy ), is that it
focuses on diverging identities such as ethnicity instead of integrating identities such as class, and it institutionalises and entrenches the former. Furthermore, it relies on rival co-operation, which is inherently unstable.
Any better ideas for joining Dave in bringing power to the people anyone: or without the constraints of bloc leadership, would they split even more and tear themselves apart?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London