Updated Apr 2014
An effective programme of democratic reform must go beyond traditional constitutional debates about voting systems and House of Lords reform, as these debates focus exclusively on how to limit and check power exercised by and within the state.
If public confidence in our political culture is to be revived then our political system must seek to hold power accountable, wherever it resides. The global financial crisis demonstrates the catastrophic consequences that can arise when toxic levels of power build up in a capitalist economy.
transformative democratic reform must aim to create new sites of political and economic power in different locations and different sections of society
The more political power is dispersed the less likely it is to be captured by small and remote cliques of individuals or vested interests.
Entrenched and deepening patterns of political inequality along social and economic lines pose a clear danger to our democracy.
In particular, people who are older and wealthier are much more likely to vote than younger, poorer people. Because elected politicians are more responsive to the interests of the people who do vote, this creates a vicious cycle. As politicians pay less attention to their needs, younger and less well-off people feel more and more that they are being ignored, and so become less and less likely to vote at the next opportunity.
To tackle this growing political inequality radical measures are required to include the voices of the excluded in our democratic process.
a form of compulsory voting, in which voting is compulsory for an individual's first eligible election
Voting once can create a good habit of voting in future. Also, by increasing participation among a younger demographic, compulsory first-time voting would force politicians to focus on a wider range of groups and needs in society.
Political parties play a vital role in encouraging and enabling democratic participation. But they are in serious trouble: membership has collapsed making political parties – and the elites that run them – more remote and disconnected from the population at large. This creates a void in which populist parties and their anti-politics rhetoric are able to flourish.
We believe political parties must be revived. To do so, they must become broader, less tribal movements.
a model of state funding that encourages them to reach out to the communities they serve
State funding would support parties' important activities, and also reduce the influence of 'big money' (from businesses or unions) in our political system.
Some change in our traditional political structures at Westminster and Whitehall is required to ensure that the civil service is more responsive and accountable to ministers and parliament, while remaining professional and non-partisan.
a greater role for the prime minister in appointing permanent secretaries, and stronger support for ministers
We believe senior civil servants should be directly accountable to parliament for the major work of their departments, and that ministerial offices should be extended to provide the resources that ministers need to do a good job.
Adopted by Coalition government, June 2013
Dispersing power means bringing a wider range of participants into direct contact with our democratic processes, including people from all parts of the country and all sections of society.
expansion of initiatives, like citizens' assemblies, that ensure the voice of ordinary citizens is heard in political decision-making
Decentralising power means devolving responsibilities and decisions to local areas that the people who live there actually identify with.
directly elected mayors are the best means of holding local power accountable
A strong democracy will recognise the diversity of nations, cities, towns and communities that make up the United Kingdom.
a model of enhanced devolution, which we call 'devo more', that meets the aspirations of the people of the devolved nations and preserves the integrity of the UK
This model would hand over additional powers and responsibilities to the devolved parliaments and provide a clear alternative to independence in Scotland.
Endorsed by Scottish Labour & Scottish Lib-Dems, March 2013
In line with enhanced devolution, England needs to be given greater recognition within our political and constitutional arrangements.
a set of discrete England-only processes within the Westminster parliament and the decentralisation of power across England's towns and communities
Partially adopted by the McKay Commission, March 2013
At the same time, we believe the strengthening of English identity is a social and cultural phenomenon that should be recognised and celebrated, to support England's political role and to counter expressions of Englishness based on nationalism or exclusion.
a clear in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union
There is a strong democratic imperative to hold an in/out EU referendum. It would also provide an invaluable opportunity and stimulus for pro-European supporters to make the case for the UK's continuing membership.