New Times,
New Thinking.

Demo for democracy

Nick Clegg addresses crowd marching for electoral reform.

By Anthony Barnett

A demonstration today brought together a range of democratic reform groups, blogs, campaigns and organisations at the instigation of Guy Aitchison, George Gabriel and others. It gathered in Trafalgar Square and then marched to Smith Square, where the Lib Dems were meeting to decide on their strategy.

Word went out that a delegation could go and meet Nick Clegg to hand in a petition. Over 1,000 voices cried “No” — he had to come out. “You serve us,” suddenly arose as a chant. Clegg came. I think this was a historic first: a major party leader being summoned by a crowd and speaking to it.

It was both friendly and determined. Many on the left think there is no political basis for the Lib Dems to close a deal with the Tories. But there is: a Freedom Act to roll back the threat to liberty from the database state and a referendum on PR, which the Tories can campaign against. Of course, Labour can offer more, but not with Gordon Brown at the helm.

The role of the demonstration was both radical and practical. Clegg can’t now agree to the mere “inquiry” on electoral reform as offered by Cameron as his payment for a deal. To do so would ruin him. We don’t need another inquiry — we need a referendum.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

If you have not signed the petition, you can still do so.

Anthony Barnett is the founder of openDemocracy and co-edits its British blog, OurKingdom.

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change