Government urged not to undermine reform consultation with populism

By staff writers
July 2, 2010

Democracy campaigners have expressed concern that the government's desire to involve people in scrapping laws may give way to populism rather than real deliberation.

Responding to the Deputy Prime Minister's announcement yesterday (1 July 2010) establishing a consultation process to review which laws should be repealed to improve life in Britain, the deputy director of Unlock Democracy, Alexandra Runswick, said: "We welcome any serious exercise to restore civil liberties and wish this initiative every success."

However she added a warning. "Governments of all shades have done much to discredit the idea of consultation and it is crucial this does not turn into yet another cherry picking exercise."

"The lack of deliberation in the process concerns us," said Ms Runswick.

She continued: "Allowing people to vote and add comments online can only get you so far, as anyone who has ever visited YouTube can testify. The government needs to encourage a much deeper public debate which informs as well as listens in order to avoid a knee-jerk response."

"The government must also be open about how it intends to treat proposals that its members might have ideological objections to, such as scrapping some of our existing industrial relations laws," said the Unlock Democracy spokesperson.

"If particular ideas or interest groups such as trade unions are to be shut out of this process, Nick Clegg should [be] clear about this from the outset. If they are genuinely going to be taken seriously, he needs to explain how potential conflicts like this will be resolved."

Unlock Democracy is a leading UK campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms. It was formed in 2007 and is the successor organisation to Charter 88 and the New Politics Network.

It was a member of the Power 2010 coalition in the run-up to the 2010 General Election, along with other civil society groups, including Ekklesia.


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