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DEMOCRACY 'IS THE REAL LOSER' WITH CABINET SYSTEMS

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Since the introduction of executive cabinets, the majority of backbenchers have been marginalised, according to Kei...
Since the introduction of executive cabinets, the majority of backbenchers have been marginalised, according to Keith Mallinson, a member of Hammersmith and Fulham LBC.

In a letter to The Independent (16 Feb, Review, p2), Mr Savage writes: 'The so-called scrutiny panels are emasculated talking shops. There is no real scrutiny.

'The majority of the administration members are on the payroll vote, and do not wish to rock the boat, or be seen to be critical of their leadership. The reality of this situation is that all decisions are now in the hands of a politburo of seven. It is democracy that is the real loser here.'

A separate letter from John Savage, a member of Waverley BC, counters arguements that the old committee system is inefficient. 'We have no 'ill-attended, sprawling commitees',' he writes. 'In Waverley no committee has more than 15 members, out of a total of 57 members; apologies for absence are rare; ideas are keenly debated, with cross-party difference and cross-party agreement.

'That is our type of democracy, and I am sure Waverley is not unusual in this respect. The anxiety felt by many of us is that a cabinet, which can consist entirely of a small number of the party in power, will make party-based decisions in camera which no amount of later 'democratic' scrutiny can change and which will be ratified by majority vote in full council.'
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