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The Independent
New kid on the block that pretends to be independent but really wants the Lib Dems to be a thing
Steve | A-Team
We are Democrats first and foremost - we must make MPs listen.

An editorial by Alex Cardigan MP.

For the last 7 years, I have represented my home, Montgomery, in Parliament. Standing up to speak for a part of the Welsh countryside with both a proud Liberal heritage and a newfound Democratic tradition has been nothing but a privilege. What has not been such a privilege, though, is having to do so in an archaic, outdated, and a - to be frank - just plain silly Parliament. Surely this righteous expression of rage by the public at politicians, caused by the Poll Tax, is a wake-up call for some change that we can all get behind.

The parts of my job I enjoy most are the bits where I can be as far away from the Commons as possible, and speak to... well, put simply, real people. Parliament is designed, by its very nature, to give MPs a warped view of the public. People, constituents, are not talked about in the corridors of power as human beings - they are spoken of as numbers, statistics, and far too often, as annoyances. The average MP has a far less reasonable opinion on the average issue than the average member of the public, is my hypothesis.

I can bang the drum for the sort of radical democratic politics that my party has gone on about for so long. To be frank, I imagine that would bore just about everyone reading this to tears. So for the purpose of getting it out the way - yes, Proportional Representation is a good idea, yes, giving more power to local communities is a good idea, and so on and so forth. You’ve all read the leaflets, you all saw John Cleese on telly. How dull, I know, I apologise.

What I propose, though, is not a policy straight from page one of some party-political manifesto. I propose a very simple change of tack from politicians - actually, directly, asking people what they make of individual issues. Regular referenda, issue-by-issue, is something that I think even the most hard-right Tories, and Hatton-esque Militants can get behind.

70,000 people are on our streets at the moment, protesting an unfair and unkind tax that hits our poorest hardest. These are perfectly decent people with perfectly reasonable concerns, and it is perfectly reasonable to be angry about what is going on. Many, still, are watching from home, with strong feelings. Surely with our nation ripped apart, the best thing to do is to not simply pick a side, or take pollsters, rioters, or parliament at their word - it is to ask the question openly and directly, to everyone.

Let’s have a Poll Tax Referendum. Let’s establish what system we want. And let’s listen to people and get out of Westminster to all corners of our fine isle in doing so.

Our current crop of MPs dread the fact that they have to hop on a train out to Slough, or some other “key area” or constituency, at the moment. I want us to have politicians that embrace hearing the views of the public, and embrace being out and about on the campaign trail. Let’s take politics to people. After all, isn’t that the point of us?

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