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If you doubt that what we call representative democracy has run its course, consider the way politics and economics has been playing out recently. Just when the pressures, caused by world population, climate change, and power block competition, are getting to a critical point the political processes and the ideas that support them, which we have grown up with, are failing. They have failed to deliver prosperity for everyone, failed to secure commitment and engagement and failed to deliver greater contentment or humanity. In the midst of some awe inspiring progress (and there is a lot of good news out there) we are squabbling over trivialities. What is going on?

A perfect storm 

Political crises are a recurrent part of history, what makes this period any different, don't we just have to live through it?

Critical issues...

There are big reasons why we need to change that are different to any we have faced in the past - much of it is a product of our success. We are so successful we now dominate the world, the consequence is that population pressures, manifesting as water shortages and involuntary migration, loss of bio-diversity and environmental degradation, extreme weather, and increasing power block competition are already impacting and will become more severe. Change is desperately needed if we are to be in a fit state to tackle these issues. Think of evolution and human history like growing up, our childhood lasted till the industrial revolution, right now we are behaving like out of control adolescents. It is as though we are 16 and having the wildest party, but there will be hell to pay if we don't clear up the mess. On this crowded and finite planet it’s imperative we actually grow up and start behaving. But time is pressing, mother Gaia is about to ring the doorbell. She's not going to tell us off and admonish us about leaving a decent place to future generations - she will wreak havoc.

...And the inability to deal with them

It is a commonplace that our politics suffers from cynicism and disengagement. Centrist politicians (who thought they were the technical managers of a settled system) now seem at a loss. Commentators on all side lament the growth of populist nationalism and point to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as symptoms of this.

There is certainly something unsatisfactory with politics 

Both major parties lack ambition and vision, and vested interests also pervert democracy; there is a revolving door between government and the big consultancies, there are myriads of political appointments, amounting to a full blown patronage system in the hinterland of unaccountable and under-scrutinised outsourced, and semi-privatised agencies. Party whips stifle independent thinking, party interests (to seek advantage and gain power) work against collaboration. Solutions are always done to people not with them and regardless of whether they actually work.

If we turn to the economy things are just as bad, we still, even after the 2008 crash, seem to be in thrall to the idea of the invisible hand and somehow expect good to come from the sum of individual greed and competition.

Are there any remedies?

It was Churchill who said we had the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried. But historically, once monarchy and despotism were rejected we have really only tried two approaches to change society - revolution and democracy.

The representative democracy we have now was built slowly. In its modern phase, it started with the Great Reform Act of 1832 and only ended with the full emancipation of women in 1928. It is easy to see why we are attached to it.

With the exception of devolution and a botched House of Lords reform, when it comes to the constant improvement of the political system, we seem to have ground to a halt. The power of the Prime Minister has been increasing for years. Parliament is dominated by the executive; its ability to hold the executive to account is flawed, I think fatally, by the presence of ministers, junior ministers, and parliamentary private secretaries, by the promises of office and the action of the whips. We have not stopped, we have actually gone backwards when it comes to local government and scrutiny of the executive; local government powers have been curtailed, much of government is run by a patronage system of agencies, we are highly centralised.

By its nature politics attracts power seekers - no doubting that many have good intentions (I'm sure I did when I stood for parliament) but all systems mould their members. In the UK this is to its arcane, obscure procedures and its competitive practices. The danger of plutocratic interference is ever present. Top down, often high-handed action combined with the fact that, a parliamentary majority does not need majority support in the electorate, means that legitimacy is undermined, the opponents are not won over they just bide their time. The results always disappoint, and outcomes are never settled. 

No wonder there is widespread anger, distrust and disengagement with politics. The fabric of civil society and our ability to tackle problems, imagine better society and act accordingly is damaged – we had a generation of “there is no alternative”. Even when our politicians did sensible deals in Europe, they would feel the need to decry the EU at home. Blaming the Brussels bureaucracy ignores both the political nature of commissioner appointments and the practical working of the council of ministers, which is precisely where shared sovereignty is worked out. We are, arguably as a result of this double standard, now in a ground-hog day. The minutiae of political manoeuvring and on-off trade talks fills the addenda for the foreseeable future, just when we need to be facing into the massive challenges the next 100 years will bring.

So, a new politics would be a good idea, wouldn't it?