British democracy in terminal decline, warns report [Guardian]

Exclusive: Corporate power, unrepresentative politicians and apathetic voters leave UK ‘increasingly unstable’, says study

Juliette Jowit, political correspondent

6 July 2012

A study into the state of democracy in Britain over the last decade warns it is in "long-term terminal decline" as the power of corporations keeps growing, politicians become less representative of their constituencies and disillusioned citizens stop voting or even discussing current affairs.

The report by Democratic Audit shared exclusively with the Guardian…found evidence of many other areas where Britain appeared to have moved further away from its two benchmarks of representative democracy: control over political decision-making, and how fairly the system reflects the population it represents – a principle most powerfully embedded in the concept of one person, one vote.

Among its concerns, identified from databases of official statistics and public surveys, were that Britain’s constitutional arrangements are "increasingly unstable" owing to changes such as devolution; public faith in democratic institutions "decaying"; a widening gap in the participation rates of different social classes of voters; and an "unprecedented" growth in corporate power, which the study’s authors warn "threatens to undermine some of the most basic principles of democratic decision-making".

In an interview with the Guardian, Stuart Wilks-Heeg, the report’s lead author, warned that Britons could soon have to ask themselves "whether it’s really representative democracy any more?"

UKs weakening democracy

"The reality is that representative democracy, at the core, has to be about people voting, has to be about people engaging in political parties, has to be about people having contact with elected representatives, and having faith and trust in elected representatives, as well as those representatives demonstrating they can exercise political power effectively and make decisions that tend to be approved of," said Wilks-Heeg.

"All of that is pretty catastrophically in decline…

Membership of political parties and election turnout has fallen significantly in the last decade, with only 1% of the electorate belonging to a party…[emphasis mine; see above graph - Zuo Shou]

…Britain also ranked below average compared with other wealthy democracies [sic] in the OECD and the EU, and even worse when measured against Nordic countries for issues from party membership and turnout to corruption, press freedom, income inequality and trade union membership…

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article link here

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