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What would happen if MPs were more like mp3s?

Alex Hudson | 14:52 UK time, Friday, 11 December 2009

"The real tragedy as an MP is that people elected [to the Houses of Parliament] don't have real power over things... [they] have become mouthpieces for the bureaucracy."

DouglasCarswell.jpg Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich and Clacton, does not mince his words. The programme team sat with him in Parliament Square as he talked about why, in his view, "there's something deeply rotten with our political system".

The problem is, he believes, because of the amount of safe seats in the House of Commons - only 10% changed party allegiance at the last election - politicians have been more than happy to hand over power to unelected quangos, diminishing any power that MPs had to influence things.

Because of this, Carswell is a big advocate of direct democracy. The idea of making politicians more accountable, which "some politicians are not going to like", is something that Carswell believes is inevitable.

Taking the initiative away from Whitehall and giving it to the people is something that he believes will change politics both fundamentally and for the better.

While this might sound like an MP calling for the death of MPs, he says that it "is not to do away with Parliament, it's to actually make Parliament more relevant and do its job better".

mp3player.jpgHe admits his ideas were seen as "outrageous" by most MPs, but following the expenses scandal he believes that there is a place in politics for the move towards choice.

"Where you give people real choice and the ability to affect real outcomes, far from apathy - you get mass participation," he says.

The last decade - away from politics - has been defined by these choices. People carry around 10,000 songs in their pocket, have access to hundreds of television channels and pick and choose from a seemingly endless number of news sources.

When it comes to picking a political party, the three main parties account for over 90% of those MPs elected. Each of these MPs agrees - at least in principle - to the ideas of their party and will vote accordingly.

This "like it or lump it system of democracy", as Carswell calls it, goes against the "niche choices" that modern Britain is used to making.

To demonstrate this, he has written the Great Repeal Bill with the input of anyone wanting to get involved. It is, in its own words, "intended to abolish many restrictive laws and regulations believed to hamper individual freedoms".

Yet, he says, under the current rules it would be very difficult to get this bill through into law.

So what's the point?

"Sooner or later, as the appetite for direct democracy grows, there will come a time when these ideas are put forward.

"It's our democracy, we should be able to have a say in what [MPs] talk about."


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