Why we need to charge people to debate in the Rational Parliament

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October 23, 2013 by Adam Smith

£5 note, credit cnflikt, Flickr

Credit: cnflikt via flickr.

You’re already paying for one parliament. The one in Westminster (and maybe some of the others too). Yet I’m almost certain that you’re rarely satisfied with what goes on it. So why should you pay for the Rational Parliament too? Because it’s yours, silly.

Think of our £5 ticket charge as a progressive tax. Or a regressive one, if you think we’re in danger of becoming a(nother) bloated legislature. In any case, a parliament must be funded by those to whom it is accountable. That’s you: the people who turn up to our debates. Yes, the Rational Parliament has no direct statutory duty or any actual real-life power. And yes it was not founded after a bloody civil war or a properly considered consultation. But I try hard to make it accountable to its public—and that’s you.

If you came to our first debate last month (video coming soon!), you’ll know that everyone has the chance to speak, to question, to argue, to influence, to vote. Although we adhere to the three Rs (Relevant Researchers in the Room), no one has special status. We do proper debates: everyone has the same right to stand up and speak.

For this right to be exercised, there’s got to be a roof and chairs and loos and some cabling snaking round the skirting board somewhere. In short, we need to fund the parliament. The Rational Parliament is not a business; it’s a little charitable project run by a handful of volunteers and based in the magnificent and generous Conway Hall. We started with some seed funding from the Good Thinking Society but now we need to support it ourselves. So we’ve set a basic ticket charge of £5 to make a stab at covering our costs. There might be other funding models we can explore later on (membership, sponsorship, grants?), so please drop your ideas in the comments below.

And for now, please pitch in and pay your tax. I can definitely say we’re cheaper than Westminster. Our next debate is on fracking and you can splash your fiver on it here.

Your clerk,

Adam

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