Time for Change?

Watched Question Time tonight – really good with the politicians on the rack again but with the old party politics back in play. However some really interesting points tonight.

  • Recognition of the anger around the country at the MP’s expense row.
  • Acceptance that criminal proceedings should take place – deliberate fraud has occurred.
  • Each party has to clean up it’s act.
  • Martin Bell – each party faces a test which it will pass or fail – can it clean up it’s MP’s and not just the old guard and back benchers but also take action against cabinet and shadow cabinet members? Labour is messing this up right now and as the party in power should be doing a lot more than it is.
  • A general election now would elect a very different parliament.
  • Is it time for electoral reform?
  • Will celebrity MP’s become more common?

The part that was really interesting was around reform of parliament and election of independents. The panel was split between the need of established party politics so that effective government could take place against election of independents to shake up the parliament.

It got me thinking – could a People’s Party, a coalition of independents standing on the ticket of anti-sleaze become a dominant force? What if the independents weren’t just known faces like Martin Bell, Esther Rantzen et all but acknowledged business leaders and academics? How many of our current MP’s are actually fit to lead? I’m not measuring fitness based on the expenses scandal either. What qualifications do our current crop of MP’s actually have apart form going to the right schools and universities, joining their party branches at an early age, working for former MP’s as researchers etc. Where’s the business acumen, the proven leadership? Sadly lacking in many cases.

It was no surprise to see the larger parties saying that the only answer was for them to sort out their issues. They were the only way forward. William Hague dared to suggest that it was only the large parties that could take on issues like unemployment, financial crisis and defence. What a cheek. Neither party has covered itself in any glory in the last two decades. With the public not having much of a choice would it not be better to vote on qualified independents rather than a candidate chosen by the local party offices especially when the selection is made to satisfy a quota or is based on the candidates influence and background? Do we really need 1300 officials in parliament? How different would a slimmed down parliament with proportional representation look compared to today’s mess?

I can’t see electoral reform taking place in the short term but a coalition of independents with a ticket of anti-sleaze and a commitment to fight for electoral reform would win many many seats if there were an election in the next 6-8 weeks. Throw in a few respected celeb’s into the mix and there’s the potential to have many more seats and power than the Liberals while denting Conservatives and especially Labour. Sadly the chance of the election taking place this year are slim to non existent. By 2010 this could well be old news. Hysterical mass media will have moved onto the next big thing. Can you remember when swine flu and the credit crunch dominated the news? One things for sure – if issues like this don’t get people out voting, nothing will.

2 Comments

  1. The thing is the people most likely to do a good job really don't want to do it. That wouldn't be a bad pre-requisite for standing in the first place!
    We have a highly organised civil service in this country. The reason it's there is to advise WHOEVER the government may be on complicated matters like unemployment, financial crisis and defence. Quite shocking that William Hague never mentioned that.

  2. Watched it also last night with a mixture of weariness and apathy. Earlier that morning, the Radio 4 Today programme had interview with Dan Ariely, who wrote a book called 'Predictably Irrational'. http://www.predictablyirrational.com/. My degree was on Risk Management and this kind of thing about perception and reality, risk and reward always gets my attention… The book (among other things) told the story of a series of experiments conducted to see under what circumstances the public (regardless of class/need/wealth etc) would cheat or steal. His view was that its an all too human trait to steal, and that we shouldn't be too hard on people, essentially reverting to type. Doing something that's basically human nature. His view was that we rationalise our poor behaviour (such as the subtly renaming 'expenses' as 'allowances' over time) and that the further you distance hard currency from temptation, using vouchers, tokens or even just objects, the more people are likely to steal them. Pens and pads from work, rather than tenners from the petty cash tin. That sort of thing. That'll be another book then on my amazon wish list then… Doh!

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