The UK government is responsible for the running of the country; providing laws, rules and regulations affecting each individual residing in the nation. The government is able to make important decisions, which may dramatically change the lives of individuals. It may be remarkable, therefore to contemplate how the public communicates their views and needs in respect of the potential life-changing alterations to themselves. The government may look objectively upon a public situation and/or institution, they may debate between themselves, they may personally investigate, recognise campaigns and petitions and seek the advice of professionals.
This week Labour leader Ed Miliband stated he wants to ‘let the public into politics’. He is currently formulating an official proposal requesting that the general public should be allowed to question the Prime Minister in the same way MP’s do in their own weekly question’s time. As the government’s decisions almost always affect the public, it may be said that this idea is a constructive step forward for our country. Should this proposal be implemented, the public may have the opportunity to feel empowered; they would be given a voice. Additionally, this may potentially shape the decisions made by the MP to create a nation whose values are more suited to those living within it.
Miliband calls it ‘public question time,’ his objective is to decrease the large distance between the needs of the public and what parliament decides. Miliband’s statements may be seen as revolutionary for our country, especially if the idea is initiated. It may display the fact that important and powerful public figures are recognising the needs of the public, and furthermore, thinking of ways for the public to communicate these needs effectively. In this instance, Miliband may act as a campaigner for the people. The changes this plan has potential to create, may act as a boost for a democratic nation.
When questioned over this proposal, Miliband stated that he was entirely serious about it and through the abundant coverage on his statements it appears he is making every effort to see it through to implementation. A spokesperson for the House of Commons has expressed interest in the plan and stated that the idea is being looked at. This may illustrate that parliament is also taking the idea seriously. Its coverage also allows for the public to communicate their views on the matter. With the support of social media, comments on news websites and email petitions, citizens can demonstrate their opinions on the subject and aid democracy in moving forward. Should this plan be put in place, it may also encourage citizens to become involved in politics as they may feel they have a voice and are eligible to participate in making a difference.
Some officials commenting on the proposal are challenged by the way in which those asking questions will be selected and who will decide them. This is an important point; if the combination of citizens chosen provided an unbalanced or bias viewpoint, the discussion may be prevented from presenting a range of views and catering for a range of varied people and, in turn challenge its efficacy. Remarking on this however, Miliband stated that citizens ‘would be chosen by a method to ensure a wide representation of the country and political backgrounds.’ Therefore, a well thought out plan for the scheme may be necessary for the idea to achieve its full potential. This discussion can exemplify that the MP is considering every challenge and complexity of the idea to ensure a fair and balanced operation.
It appears looking forward to a changing, developing political culture, which serves its citizens effectively, fulfilling its objective as the guardian of the nation may be beneficial. Ed Miliband may be an important figure in implementing this; during an interview he stated one of his aims is to ‘find ways to change political culture’. Public question time may be the defining first step.
What question would you ask the Prime Minister?