Jonathan Bryant, co-ordinator of Direct Democracy, explains the purpose of the organisation.
The British Conservative Party needs a new agenda. Having effectively tackled the problems of the 1970s and early 1980s through a fundamental decentralisation and devolution of the state- (and union-) controlled economy, during the 1990s our script became largely irrelevant to modern Britons. We failed to develop an overarching critique and subsequent policy agenda that addressed the key issue of our time – namely, the need to reform those institutions, which exist to serve the public interest, in a way which makes them truly responsive to public demands, and better fitted to advance the highest ideals of the liberal democratic West. However, a group of MPs, MEPs, Parliamentary candidates and activists recognised this ideological vacuum and set about developing a new modernisation agenda for the centre-right. Direct Democracy was born.
Direct Democracy comes from a variety of traditions within the Conservative Party but we are bound by a common purpose – a belief in a new kind of politics, where decisions are taken as closely as possible to the people they affect and where the architects of those decisions are directly accountable if things go wrong. Our ambition is to devolve, decentralise and democratise the public services as effectively as Margaret Thatcher did the economy in the 1980s. We launched in 2005 following another failure to break out beyond the one third of popular support where we have been trapped, if opinion polls are to be believed, since October 1992. Our philosophy was set out in a book – "Direct Democracy: an Agenda for a New Model Party" - and we have since expanded upon our initial ideas in a series of ‘Localist Papers’, published by the Centre for Policy Studies last spring and serialised in the Daily Telegraph.