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Total Recall
How Direct Democracy Can Improve Britain

By Nick Cowen
December 2008
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9781906837013
119 pages
$18.50 Paper Original

Members of Parliament have traditionally enjoyed total legislative supremacy in the United Kingdom, able to pass or rescind any law of the land. Most citizens of Britain probably think that this is still the case. However, in this worrying examination of the dilution of the sovereignty of parliament by its own members, Nick Cowen shows how they have slowly ceded their powers to ministers, government agencies and the European Union. In 2006, parliament almost abolished itself by accident.

Many of the laws that govern the lives of people in Britain are made by people who never have to stand for election, and who may not even live in the country. This is a serious threat to the Mother of Parliaments and to the liberty of the people. However, given the surprising willingness of MPs to delegate their powers, what is the remedy?

Direct democracy, as developed in Switzerland and especially in the USA, allows citizens to stay in charge even after Election Day. Through the use of referendums, initiatives, recalls, term limits, local charters and grand juries, citizens are able to put a break on bad laws, dispose of politicians who betray their election promises and eject officials found helping themselves from the public purse.

Nick Cowen argues that we should introduce these mechanisms to the UK to ensure a more accountable government and, more importantly, a government that can't hand its powers to anyone other than back to the people of Britain.