It’s not every day an author gets to hear her manifesto coming from the mouth of the incoming Deputy Prime Minister. That happened today when Nick Clegg virtually read out the conclusion of The Silent State (Manifesto for a New Democracy) as his Big Society speech.
Read the full text of the speech here. If you want to know in detail what’s going to be on the reform agenda clearly you need to read The Silent State!
Of course, what matters is action and we need to see a timetable for specific changes and reform. But if this rhetoric is anything to go by (and believe me I’m ever the sceptic) then action is expected before the summer recess. I am as full of political disillusionment as anyone and I have to say – this speech gave me hope. For the first time in a very long while.
Here are a few of today’s highlights:
Silent State: Trust the people. It is the people who give public servants their power and so it must be the people to whom they are accountable, directly and forthrightly – with no middlemen in between.
Nick Clegg: My starting point is always optimism about people. The view that most people, most of the time, will make the right decisions for themselves and their families. That you know better than I do about how to run your life, your community, the services you use. So this government is going to trust people.
Silent State: We should give no more power to the state without the state giving something to us.
Nick Clegg: We will repeal all of the intrusive and unnecessary laws that inhibit your freedom.
SS: Society has an interest in encouraging the efficient use and enforcement of freedom of information and making official information freely available to the public who paid for its creation and in whose name it is gathered.
NC: We will reform our politics so it is open, transparent, decent.
SS: Surveillance doesn’t make us safer. It turns citizens into suspects.
NC: Taking people’s freedom away didn’t make our streets safe.
SS: Make voting count
NC: New politics needs fairer votes.
Some other notable points taking up the Silent State philosophy:
‘We will radically redistribute power away from the centre, into your communities, your homes, your hands.’
On Lobbying: ‘that activity needs to be regulated properly and made transparent. Which we’ll do, for example, by introducing a a statutory register of lobbyists.’
All good stuff and a promising start to creating a more efficient and egalitarian democracy. I’m out to celebrate!