Monday, April 06, 2009

Welsh Party aims to sack politicians and swap Senedd for a citizen’s assembly

Apr 6 2009 by Martin Shipton, Western Mail

A NEW “apolitical” party was launched in Wales yesterday, hoping to draw support from those disillusioned with conventional politics.

Writer and philosopher Martin Davies, founder of the Red Dragonhood design label, announced the formation of Newid (Change) during the Laugharne Weekend festival in Carmarthenshire.

Mr Davies, from Swansea, said the new party intended to contest every constituency at the next National Assembly election in 2011, campaigning for the establishment of an independent Welsh “demarchy” – a progressive form of democracy that does away with politicians and political parties in favour of a nationally representative assembly of ordinary citizens.

If it won control, Newid would hold a referendum to gain approval for a written constitution that would set out the rights and responsibilities of every Welsh citizen. Armed with a constitutional mandate, it would renegotiate the national status of Wales with the UK Parliament. Then, having achieved its objectives, the party would disband to make way for a citizen’s assembly.

In a demarchy, decision- makers are selected by lot from the whole adult population rather than by election. Everyone selected would be expected to serve for three months at their normal rate of pay with tenure of employment protected by law.

Mr Davies, who recently advocated a parallel Welsh currency that would depreciate in value to encourage consumer spending, said: “This will enable elections to be abolished, saving many millions that can be better spent on health or education, and political parties will no longer be relevant. The same system will be introduced in local authorities.

“Newid will end the institutional corruption of political parties and political expediency. Ordinary citizens are likely to make decisions based on their own conscience and whatever is the best, most moral and ethical course of action for Wales. Independent people can think for themselves and make up their own minds, not have a party whip telling them how to vote.

“Under the current system, the only people who have political representation are the 2% who are members of political parties. It is amazing we have let it go on for so long.”

Under his plans AMs would elect two joint heads of state, who would share the responsibilities of president and chief minister equally. They would also elect a professional executive selected on the basis of the best candidates to manage a particular ministry. The citizen members would be guided by an independent civil service and judiciary.

“Politics is shockingly wasteful of money, time and resources,” said Mr Davies. “It is horrendously inefficient and very little gets done for the money. I’m not talking about politicians cheating us out of the odd tens of thousands of pounds worth of expenses here or there. That’s small beer when you consider that politicking wastes billions.

“Although what it represents is positive, few people have faith in the Assembly because it achieves practically nothing at all. That’s because anything important has to go through the Secretary of State for Wales and a cabal of Westminster MPs. AMs are on a hiding to nothing relative to people’s expectations.”

Mr Davies said: “It is not possible to manage a country of 60 million people efficiently. Westminster has never been able to run Wales well and it never will. An independent demarchy would be able to run a country of three million people very effectively indeed. Just imagine the boost to the economy and to tourism. Overseas visitors would want to visit the small country with the most advanced democracy in the world.

“Politics is dead because politicians have set themselves apart from ordinary people. Let’s leave the decision making to ordinary people. I keep hearing people say that there’s no one worth voting for any more. All politicians seem the same. Well now there is a party that can afford to reject party political dogma, political expediency and institutional corruption because it only needs to be elected once…”

(A long time since I’ve heard such sense. Time to end the present ‘gravy train’ for politicians!)

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