For 40 years I read the Guardian. I only stopped when the vitriol generated by Polly Toynbee kept dripping onto the carpet and ruining it! I switched to the Independent which had always been my second choice for independence and clarity.
Must I now think again having read the total oblox that they have covered for the past two days about the problems with politics?
Just to recap – their solution to the problem of the existing political parties is to set up another one. There is no philosophical viewpoint to this but polices will somehow emerge if everyone writes in their ideas.
By definition it will be composed of people new to politics – fair enough but some might think that a little experience of politics, governance and government will be useful. But to compound things all those elected by this new Party will pledge to only sit for one Parliament thus passing their seats over to another lot of people with er …. No experience!
The Party will be consultative by nature which extends to its choice of candidates. These will be chosen by primaries in all 650 seats in the UK Whether or not that will mean that candidate A in constituency B will have the same proposals for government as candidate C in constituency D is not made clear!
It will have found a credible leader and leadership team capable of taking on all the departments of state. It will be paid for by people making a maximum contribution of £50 from time to time.
Let’s just deal with that financial piece of information. To establish and run the operation that they are proposing will cost a minimum of £25,000,000 between now and the next General Election if they don’t fight any other elections in the meantime. This may sound a lot but we know from the Tories in Torbay that a primary in a constituency costs at least £25,000 before they fight an election. Let’s say that £50 from time to time will bring in £300 per ‘member’. That means that to finance their ambitions they will need to have at least 83,000 members from a standing start. This doesn’t sound possible to me but hey I have only been an active politician for 44 years.
Let’s deal with some other little problems. How will the leader and leadership be selected? By vote from members perhaps? Would this show that different people in the Party had different ideas and/or wanted different types of leadership? Might it not lead to factions or wings within the Party?
The problem with what the Independents’ bunch of nobodies is suggesting that all political parties more or less function in the same way. A more fundamental problem is that all organisations function in the same way. Large groups of people who come together follow similar traits. They look for people in their own image. They support ideas that are similar to their own. They seek advantage for their people and their ideas within the organisation. If you think politics is only a party political matter look at the politics of the Vatican which have been ruthlessly exposed by the death of a cardinal or the factional gatherings around the Church of England Synod.
So if setting up a new Party only replicates rather than replaces what can be done? Here are just some suggestions not one of which is new but none have ever really been done.
- Change the election system to make people more accountable to the electorate than the whip
- Abolish the £500 deposit rule and ensure that any candidate must have the support of at least 1% of the population before standing. That will force people onto the streets.
- Provide less support for elected representatives for work done inside their institutions and more support for people who work in their neighbourhoods.
- Join an existing political party (there are more than 200 of them) that is nearest to your viewpoint and engage in internal change. As someone cleverer than me said, “Evil flourishes when good men stand aside.
- Introduce a public petition to reduce the amount of money that political parties can spend so that it is argument not money that buys votes.
- Get the media involved in long-term debates about long-term problems such as the ageing elderly population or housing or economic investment and end the short-term populism which journalists demand.
- Then take those debates out into the community so that we can all understand that are no simple short-term solutions to problems like these.
- Set a minimum age limit of 30 before people can become an MP which might mean that a higher number of politicians have had a real job (which would not include being a media commentator!
The ideas of the Independent are not remarkably different from those of the Natural Law Party. Remember them? They were the Party that fought every seat on the basis of being nice people and could somehow meditate out evil. Their one policy was psychic flying. Is that the proud future being proclaimed by the Independent or is this all some bizarre ill timed April Fools Joke?