The old political parties are dying, traditional ideologies of both left and right no longer apply; for better or worse our society has moved on. The active membership of the three old parties combined is now around 150,000 and falling. The total electorate is over 45 million. 15 million people did not vote at the last General Election.
Privileges and Perks
All three of our current political leaders came to their positions through privileged “insider” backgrounds, all three have no experience of working outside “politics”. 35% of our MPs were educated in private schools. 48 former ministers of the Blair/Brown era are now enjoying jobs in commercial companies or lobbying organisations. Is this the way we want our democracy to go?
Health and Education
It is delusion, not democracy, to believe that only “politicians” can give us answers. We do not need politicians meddling in every aspect of our society. Health and Education are different. We all agree on the fundamentals; quality service, total fairness and value for money. These are not party political issues. We do not need politicians in our schools and hospitals – they only mess it up.
Competence not Ideology
By any objective standard, our performance in both Health and Education is “middling”. Our political system has failed us, is failing us and will continue to fail us. Why? Because the issues are difficult and complex, they demand consistent attention to detail and long term follow up. Politics guarantees pretty much the opposite; superficial short term fixes (usually ineffective but always expensive) and continual policy reversals every time a new party takes over.
Don’t blame the workers!
The people working in our great public services are no different from the people working in other organisations; ultimately they depend on the quality of leadership at the very top. Surely we have enough experience now to realise that our current political system simply cannot generate competent consistent quality leadership? Yes we can keep giving ourselves a second chance, going along with “political” changes in the hope of something better if we are lucky. The tragedy is that the young people in our schools and the elderly in our hospitals do not get a second chance, they deserve better than relying on luck.
Discuss the Issues
Bankrupt of ideas and nervous of their record, political parties now conspire to say as little as possible about Health and Education. There was no real debate at the last General Election and, on present form, there will be even less at the next one. And yet this Government is going ahead with another massive NHS upheaval, another leap in the dark. The only consistency in all these NHS “reforms” is the increase in the numbers and cost of “management”. Our MPs also remain largely silent and fail to challenge this; it is time therefore we started to challenge them.
Horse and Cart
Firstly do we actually need 650 MPs? Historically, that number was fixed in the era of horse transport. We have more elected politicians per head of population than any other democratic country in the world. In an era of productivity standards, why do we allow our politicians to be exempt? Halving the number of MPs will be a great motivator for the half that remains. What does the average MP actually do? Most voters have little contact with their MP outside of elections. Who would really care if we merged two constituencies together? It is hardly like combining Arsenal with Tottenham or Preston N.E. with Blackpool? That would be serious!
Not a job for life
What is the justification for allowing so many MPs to stay in their jobs for so long? At present around 75% of seats hardly ever change. The second major benefit of halving the number of MPs is that we can then create more balanced constituencies. This will ensure more turnover, more real contests, more voter participation.
The Glittering Prize
More democratic, more effective, more inspiring. Taking Health and Education out of the despised stranglehold of “politics” will do more than just raise standards; it will raise their whole prestige and “ownership” among the public. We give ourselves the chance to build a more open, dynamic, inclusive society. All this is possible, just by taking this simple first step to evolve our democratic system. We will set an example many other countries may well be keen to follow.