Why can’t parliamentary democracy be run online?
There have been fears about holding the government to account during a shutdown, writes John Rentoul
Parliament closed down for the Easter recess a week early on Wednesday night, prompting some to ask why democracy should be suspended at a moment of national crisis. Why could MPs not continue to hold the government to account through some form of online democracy?
After all, they have electronic voting in several parliaments around the world, including the European parliament, and, as many people have been discovering over the past few days, videoconferencing is easy once older people have learned to press the right buttons.
In fact, parliament does not need new technology to observe social distancing. It is surprisingly straightforward for MPs to be in the chamber of the House of Commons while keeping two metres apart. The only exception to this so far is Nadine Dorries, the health minister, who has already had coronavirus and is therefore not expected to give it to anyone else or to get it again herself.