26 May 2009

Beware the Status Quo

Another article for me to argue with

This time Dominic Lawson is saying the public are too hard on MPs, and that expressions of Rousseau-esque popular will can lead to fascism, see Hitler's speeches against the ineffective politicians of Weimar Germany for evidence

He also points out that celebrity independent politicians offer little - there is no guarantee they will be any better - after all 'power corrupts', right?

So what should we do? Sit back down and shut up? - Most of the broadsheets tend to advocate this approach: fix the expenses and tighten up the rules a little, then our MPs can get back to work as usual

Only 'usual' was never right - it's not surprising that political classes like Lawson (how could he be anything else?) want to maintain the status quo, because they're the ones who benefit

He is right that we can't expect an independent to be squeaky-clean, although history has shown the safer the seat, the more corrupt the politician - but he is missing the point (deliberately) that we need more voices in parliament - our debating chamber needs to be a debating chamber, an area in which ironically the Lords puts the Commons to shame

I have heard very few voices against independent MPs, and they are almost solely from the right or hard-left - they argue that it would be too hard to pass laws, parliament would be too argumentative and the MPs would eventually cut deals

This is code for: 'bills can't be rubber stamped by parliament' and this is a very good thing, at present we elect a solid majority based on a system that is heavily weighted towards the two main parties, that majority then have absolute power for 4-5 years, which in reality is in the hands of only a few people at the top, who aren't elected and represent the interests of their donors first and foremost

That majority do whatever they feel like, only fighting one battle every 4-5 years - that is not democracy, when the Tories and the Lib Dems oppose Labour there is nothing they can do - it makes you wonder why they are in the legislature at all

To properly represent the people the legislature needs to be effective - that is a fairly widely believed political truth, you can argue the finer points but its function is to check government - I think anyone would agree that it currently doesn't

However in this country we have a bizarre attachment to the idea of a 'strong government' - by which they mean handing absolute authority to the cabinet, and it has been like only since Churchill really - if you actually look at the 'golden age' of the British Empire, which Tories love, our parliament was much more flexible, with members crossing the floor willy-nilly and frequent minorities in power

We are of course fearful of becoming like Italy or Israel, with their weak politics - but we ignore the several countries (like Germany, New Zealand) that operate fine with a 'weaker' system - in truth stability probably comes from the population and somehow I think Britain is closer to German stability than Israeli instability

Of course in the old days politics relied on patronage more than the people, and you can hardly say politicians have ever been whiter than white - but that doesn't really matter, Parliament functioned better because it was working as it should (more or less), now it has been taken over by the professional party system - even though we have a more democratic and fair process, Parliament itself has become worse

I'm not sure if the article really refers to me, but I feel as though I am being attacked for supporting reform, which I have supported since I was a teenager - I am not baying for every politicians' blood or wanting protest votes - I simply want a fair Parliament, I don't want to have to put with a situation where the only way you can beat those who are caught cheating is to vote for a celebrity and where I have to have a government elected by default - it's wrong, and it's been wrong for a long time

The expenses saga is not really the issue - it has merely exposed the reality of politics and given people the best chance of actually changing the system, but people like Dominic Lawson try to twist the situation into saying the BNP will benefit and that oppression by the majority is worse than by the minority - true that, but that is just his opinion, and this is mine: I don't fear the BNP one jot, and all Dom wants to do is preserve the minority (ie. Labour and the Tories)

The irony of course is that independents weaken the power of the oppressors even more, but then we would be too weak - so we should just keep it the way it is - eh, Dom?

*I do agree that 'celebrity' independents are pointless, you are just swapping one elite for another, helping no real people
**Anyone who doesn't see the flaw in comparing the fledging German state that Hitler exploited to Britain should be shot - a very sensationalist bit of spin there

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