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23.2.08

Cornish referendums & myverdict.net

Some curious signals coming from the Talk Democracy forum and an organisation called myverdict.net that I'd like to bring to popular attention. The following is a synthesis of postings from someone involved in myverdict.net.

It may not be generally known but we already have a degree of direct democratic capability in the UK. As I found out myself only a few days ago, local authorities have their own written constitutions. The council's themselves accept a responsibility to encourage greater citizen participation in the decision making process and councillors have a duty to be an advocate of and for the views of their constituents.

The problem, as I see it, is that there is no 'official' way to find the majority opinion on any issue. One of my local councillors, when elected, polled 1,233 votes out of 2,766 cast. The voter turnout was 29.7% of the electorate. There are therefore about 9000 eligible voters in my ward. If all the citizens who voted for said councillor made their views known to him on any one issue, they would still not constitute a majority opinion of the 'will of the people'. While he would no doubt make representation on behalf of those who made their opinions known, he would not be obliged to support it or vote accordingly, it being a minority opinion. It is for the same reason, Downing St petitions can be ignored. However, if 4,501 people expressed a view, he would be obliged by the council's constitution, to be an advocate of and for said opinion.

The need then, if people actually want their opinions to have an effect on policy, is for them to state their views in greater numbers. myverdict.net is set up to collect majority opinions on every issue. It may not be the ideal but it covers the whole of the UK down to local authority level. It could easily and quickly be extended downwards to ward level. What myverdict.net needs is exposure/publicity, to let people know that it exists. The same is true of course for any and all sites working in this genre.

I've noted a few contributors from Cornwall here at Talk Democracy. Please consider me suitably chastised. I was unaware that there was a sovereignty dispute with regards to Cornwall. After some minor googlin', I find that there's a case to answer. People at all levels of society, from the lowly House of Lords, to Cornish people themselves, admit that the claim that Cornwall is apart from England, is not spurious.

From the evidence that I've seen, I'm unable to say, at present, on which side of the argument I stand. Of course, not being Cornish, I have no right to participate in any decision to determine the status of Cornwall. Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing debate and whether it would be good or bad for the people of Cornwall or England, I believe the right to self-determination of a people, is paramount. I have seen no argument to suggest that Cornish people do not constitute a people. Therefore I, on behalf of myverdict.net acknowledge the inalienable right, under international law, of the Cornish People, to self-determination.

I will, within the next two days, institute Cornwall as a 'home country' of the United Kingdom, at myverdict.net where it will have its own associated pages. Due to the fact that some residents of Cornwall may not be Cornish, I will also maintain Cornwall as a county, within England. Users may then associate themselves accordingly. It is now up to you, the residents of Cornwall, Cornish or otherwise, to find your majority opinions and go on to decide your future.

Roy

1 comment:

Taffd said...

I have now instituted Cornwall as a separate Home Country at www.myverdict.net while maintaining it also as an English county for those who see it as such.

While not being an instigator of action or activism, the democracy sections of www.myverdict.net stand as a tool for finding out the majority opinion, on any and every issue, in all communities from local to international level.

At a local authority level, in the UK, a majority decision, once known, can be used to oblige a local councillor to be an advocate of and for that majority opinion.

People can thus participate in formulating policy and decision making at a local authority level, something that we in the UK, cannot do at national level.

The democracy sections at myverdict.net are specific to a users area of residence and allow users to put questions to a vote and post reasoned, coherent arguments for and against the question. There is also opportunity to change one's vote should the arguments persuade. Results are live and ongoing.

www.myverdict.net also has news, article and forum sections, for all communities from local to international level. It covers over 25,000 administrative divisions, in every inhabited country. There are some excellent articles and ongoing discussions at the international site.

Users may post on virtually any topic of interest in these sections and may post in any section, of any administrative division, of any country. A Cornish user could, for example, join a discussion on amateur dramatics at the Wisconsin pages of the USA site. There are over 75,000 different ares of the site in which to post.

Regards

Roy Daine
myverdict.net