What is democracy? – with Danny Wallace

What is democracy? – with Danny Wallace


Dictator Danny: Hello, my name’s Danny an one day I intend to rule this country, if that’s alright with you? And actually even if it isn’t, because I am going to be… a dictator. Get rid of that, probably swap those two chairs around, probably make that bigger. What do you guys think of this? Probably put that, here. Probably bring this in quite a bit – this is quite wide, this street. That’s fine. Yeah, this is fine. That’s stupid isn’t it? I’d change the smell but not much else. No, it takes too long to run from there to here. I hope someone’s writing all this down. Please do not worry. I will be a kind and fair dictator. I’ll make old people happy. Have a flower. Have a flower. Here, have that. High five. I’m great with foreign dignitaries. Welcome to Britain, have a pencil. Dictator Danny: Have a pencil.
Man: Yeah, thanks. Dictator Danny: I will invent brilliant new laws. Dictator Danny: Hello!
Man: Hello, hi. Dictator Danny: I’ll create nine day weekends. I will give Norfolk to the French. I will ban everything. Basically I intend to make full use of my ultimate power. Danny: Hello, sorry about him, slightly embarrassing. He’s just there to show you how things could have gone if, back in the old days, we’d decided on a different system. Dictator Danny: Change all that. Danny: Now granted, dictatorships do have their advantages: you get a lot done. Dictator Danny: This is very nice, see, this is what I’m talking about. This is exactly what we need more of – these little boxes here. Danny: But Britain has a democracy. Now democracy means government by the people. It comes from the Greek word ‘democracy’ meaning… government by the people. In the UK it means that, with a few exceptions, everyone over the age of 18 gets a vote. Now, who thinks that we should stay for another? Carried. Dictator Danny: Vote Danny. Danny: Each vote is important, which is why politicians spend so much time and energy knocking on doors, handing out leaflets and finding tiny babies to kiss. They need to persuade us that they’re the best person for the job of representing us in Parliament. Man: Vote for Danny, yeah. Woman: Who’s Danny? Danny: Parliament comes from the French word for… Parliament. Dictator Danny: You’ve not researched this hugely have you? Danny: Leave it, I’m working. Now like the Lord of the Rings, Parliament comes in three sections: you’ve got the House of Commons, you’ve got the House of Lords and you’ve got the Queen, gawd bless her. Though these days, her powers are mainly theoretical. Dictator Danny: Doesn’t sound very fair. Danny: She doesn’t mind, she’s a very busy women. So the main two are the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and together they are responsible for making new laws and repealing old ones. Dictator Danny: Sounds… fairly easy. Dictator Danny: I’m a dictator, I’m gonna try and revolutionise the country. I need some rules, some laws. What would your first rule be if you were in charge of the country? Man: Stop pollution Dictator Danny: Stop pollution?
Man: Yeah. Dictator Danny: More cheap houses… and more buses? Dictator Danny: OK, I’m gonna need help with this, so can I leave that with you? Woman: The first law would be to get Martha out the market because she drives me crazy! Dictator Danny: Where is she? Right, where is she? Dictator Danny: I’m gonna sort this out. Get out the market! Dictator Danny: What ideas have you got, what strategies have you worked out? Man: Err, I really haven’t thought about it to that extent, I’m sorry. Dictator Danny: Do you like it? Dictator Danny: It’s good, isn’t it? I can get you one of these. Dictator Danny: Democracy has got its place I think, it’s quite nice, we all have a say. But it would just be quicker if I’m doing it. What do you think about that? Dictator Danny: So it seems like the upside of being a dictator is also the downside. It seems like everyone is quite happy for me to do all the work, myself. Maybe I’d like to share it out a bit. So perhaps a parliament is not a bad idea – get some other people involved. You know, get myself a House full of lords, get myself a House full of commoners. Danny: Now, what’s the difference between the House of Commons and the House of Lords? Dictator Danny: I like these. Er, I don’t know, what is the difference between the House of Commons and the House of Lords? Danny: It’s not a joke. Well, the House of Commons is made up of 646 elected members of Parliament, who each represent an area of the UK known as a constituency or… seat. Danny: That was a joke. Danny: Now every four years or so, very excitingly, there’s a general election which determines which MPs will be taking a seat. Once elected, it’s their job to represent the interests of their constituency while taking part in the crazy rough and tumble of Parliamentary debate, the passing of laws and the controlling of government spending. Danny: Now, the House of Lords, well that’s different. Unlike the House of Commons, its members are unelected. Most of them are Life Peers, some used to be MPs but a lot are experts from outside the world of politics. Scientists, lawyers, people like that, but never, controversially, astronauts. Danny: Like the Commons the Lords help make our laws but they also look at the small print of every bill to make sure they’ll work, using microscopes and tiny magnifying glasses. Now, both the Lords and Commons have committees which look at subjects in more detail and publish important reports. Dictator Danny: What like, er, school reports? Danny: Kind of, like school reports, yeah, you know? They might tell the government, you must try harder, you could do better or if they’ve been really bad, see me later. Dictator Danny: Right, so am I just being thick, or are all those people in government? Danny: Well, put simply, you’re just being thick. Dictator Danny: Right. Danny: Government is part of Parliament, but being in Parliament doesn’t mean you are in government. With me? (Snore… Crash.) Danny: Right well, you’re with me. That’s, that’s the important thing.

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