Democracy under the Coalition

Following calls for greater US-style openness from public figures, Nick Clegg has stated he has ‘no objection in principle’ to publishing his tax return. This came after the four main candidates for London mayoral elections revealed their personal tax affairs due to Jenny Jones suggesting the move during a newsnight debate.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said he would have “no problem” in making his tax return public. An aide to Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the minister had “no intention to publish but his only sources of income are in the public domain”.

An aide to Ed Miliband said the Labour leader and Shadow Cabinet would match anything the Government did, adding: “The real issue is ministers coming clean about whether they benefit themselves from the tax cut for millionaires introduced by George Osborne.”

John Redwood however had something else to say, branding a move to publish MP’s tax returns ‘an invasion of privacy’ saying ‘everyone avoids some tax’ moving instead that people standing for the conservative party should sign a declaration stating they are paying all the onshore taxes they should.

Considering the public outrage towards the expenses scandal in 2009, perhaps these types of changes are what are required to address an ever expanding democratic deficit with events such as the recent cash for access and previous cash for honours scandals, leaving voters questioning the value of their role in the UK ‘democratic’ system.

Another recent example of calls which may help reduce the democratic deficit is Alex Salmonds intention to allow 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the Scottish independence referendum. Of course the intentions here are political, with Salmond aiming to gain the support of often nationalistic youth, yet the example (luckily for us) still stands.

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