9 comments

  1. Simon Kensdale

    The article and the research underlying it miss the point. Democracy as a political system is in a crisis. The EU referendum demonstrated the divorce between elected representatives and the general public. The Prime Minister and the three main political parties all advocated remaining in the EU. This was an unusual consensus but the public preferred the message being put about by irresponsible, self publicising mavericks, i.e. they demonstrated a lack of trust in the political organisation of the country. This has a lot to do with the media – turning politics into a game show, with issues reduced to sound bites – but the final responsibility lies with the politicians. It’s no wonder that Cameron has now left politics, understanding how out of touch he was with popular sentiment. But those that remain at Westminster have to convince us that they are capable of managing the country’s affairs and are worth voting for. I’m not sure this has a lot directly to do with Citizens Advice – we must be apolitical – but as a consequence of the crisis I think we are bound to encounter increasing numbers of clients who are insecure, disadvantaged or just cynical.

  2. Boris786

    Good article and agree with central thrust. The electoral system and whether or not people are participating in it does affect CAB clients disproportionately to others so I think increasing their engagement is sensible use of time.
    I am not sure of it’s place in pecking order a la priorities though and I would be very disappointed if the CAB were not engaging on the tax credits/welfare system and it’s poor fit with current working practices/trends and general poor administration.
    I see no ‘impartiality’ issue unless the referendum result precludes any discussion on improving our democratic processes/ engagement.

  3. Jenny Lee

    I agree with the project and what you havve done as a result. However current lack of information or access to services is not so much a matter of how what or when it is provided as policies adopted by governments subsequent to democratic processes. One small example is that given current policy to cut funds to loacl coucils they are cutting staff through re directing clients to computers which mmkes lack of access to the computer illiterate and no service face to face that may prove to solve issues. These are the real problems that as an adviser I see from week to week. What is National CAB doing to campaign on issues such as these?

    1. Boris786

      Seems a fair point I had not thought of: policies adopted by local/central govt or delivery arms post democratic processes to try to square circles clearly important. Thanks.

  4. Jonathan Stiles

    I dont believe that the Referendum has anyting to do with Democracy. The Referendum, or Ballot, was a Binary question requiring a yes or no answer. What the ballot could never allow for were aspects such racism or nationalism. When you are already prejudiced then the likliehood is that you will answer the binary question with a prejudicial answer, and not actually focussed on the question itself, and the implications of that question.
    The fact that Politicians of both persuasions happily engaged in lies and distortions to suit their arguments further undermines the idea that the Ballot was Democratic in any way.
    It should be remembered that the Germans banned referendums after the war as Hitler had previously used them to manipulate his own people.
    We supposedly live in a representaive Democracy, and it should be for our Politicians to make a judgement on this sort of question. We the Public are too ill informed to be able to make a sensible unbiased decision in matters such as this. I would argue that far from enhancing Democracy this sort of Binary question, which seems to be on the increase, actually has the reverse effect and trivialises Democracy.
    Where do the questions end. Does the British public want to bring back hanging etc. We should be very wary of trying to equate Democracy with Ballots, as has certainly been demonstrated recently.

  5. Frank Wood

    “78 per cent of adults in Britain accessed the internet once a day or almost once a day in 2015” may well be true but those most in need are likely to be amongst the other 22%. They are also likely to be the most disenfranchised.

  6. robert hambley

    Interesting and well-observed BUT yet another example of CitA extending its limited resources far beyond its core purpose. This kind of research and campaigning duplicates what other institutions are already doing, and takes the place of vigorous public criticism of Government policy. Where is the research, critique and campaigning against the appalling HMRC/Concentrix failures on tax credits, which are causing real hardship to thousands of families and children? Nowhere, it seems, because too much Government funding has silenced Citizens Advice on this and other issues.

    1. L Langrick

      Completely agree. The electoral system and whether or not people are participating in it has nothing whatsover to do with the aims and principles of the CAB. Are clients coming to us for help with this issue? I think not , so I can see no justification for Citizens Advice expending resources getting involved in it. Making statements that democracy needs fixing in the aftermath of the EU Referendum risks undermining our reputation for impartiality also.

  7. William Hewer

    Much of what is said has value but is only tinkering with a rotten undemocratic State. People don’t vote, or register to vote because they think it is futile. It is futile in most elections as a consequence of the first past the post electoral system where most votes cast count for nothing. Our central and local government is determined by a handful of seats in marginal constituencies. The results are not representative of the wishes of the electors.

    Add to this the lack of a good written constitution there is little to protect the citizen beyond custom and practice developed centuries ago. The wealthy go to court to protect their interests, the rest of us just have to ‘lump it’.

    The media in the UK is biased. The BBC do nothing to upset their masters or those they perceive may be so. They do nothing to inform the public about new ideas and policies of alternative parties. All they report are rows and conflict.

    Not surprisingly most of the daily newspaper type printed media is heavily right wing, often printing covert racism while pretending to champion the rights of the citizen. They pedal lies, perpetuate distortions, create moral panics, all to attempt to influence our governance. The BBC often repeat such content consequently for some, legitimising the distortions. Our ruling political parties are frightened of much of the printed media.

    Britain is not a democracy, least of all a representative democracy.

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