Are older MPs the answer?

I suppose in many ways it depends what the question is.

On Monday’s Jeremy Vine – the Radio 2 presenter asked whether MPs aged over 55 would be a good thing.

You can listen to the show (until March 15th) here – Jeremy_Vine_08_03_2010

My view is that, like with so many things, age itself doesn’t matter. However, age would appear to bring certain benefits that the electorate seems to be looking for – mainly more experience and less self-centredness.

We want politicians that will put us, their constituents, first. We should go before their party politics and definitely before themselves. We also want politicians that have had some life experience. Maybe they know what it is like to bring up a family when times are tough, or possibly they know what it is like to run a big organisation with many employees and market pressures. Both are important when it comes to helping to run the country. And both are more ‘real’ to us as voters than being the junior researcher for another MP before being selected to stand yourself for a constituency you’d never heard of before.

The fact is that most, but not all, of the independent candidates I’ve met and spoken to are … let’s be fair and say ‘experienced in life’. But age is not important – what’s important is whether they’ll do a good job and an honest heart, an understanding of what the voters actually want and some experience that will be useful in Westminster are all more important than how old they are.

6 Responses to Are older MPs the answer?

  1. Mike Smith says:

    I did not hear it all, but what seemed to me to be missing from the Jeremy Vine debate was any recognition that the current party political system may be at least partially to blame. (That,s where I thought you might get involved.)
    No matter how old (or young!)these candidates may be, they will still have to work within this system. If elected, their proclaimed ‘idealism’ may for a little while succesfully give them some distance from the party line, but reality will kick in pretty soon, and they will be subject to all the pressures and persuasions of the old establishment club that is the Westminster Village.
    Perhaps what we need is the ‘Not-A-Political-Party’ Party. In other words, NOT ‘a political party’, but an ‘apolitical party’. Could there be such a group in politics/parliament? Is this just the same as independents under another name? I am not sure it is. It may be interesting to debate the distinction.

    • Admin says:

      Mike, I agree that no matter what the age a party candidate will fall under the spell, power, control (whatever you want to call it) of the party if elected.

      I’m not so sure about an apolitical party. The danger of a party, no matter how it starts, is that it becomes somewhere that insists on conformity. However if a large number of independents do get elected then some level of support within Parliament will be required.

  2. Tom Austin says:

    Firstly, I am tempted to complain of your use of my image to ilustrate this blog, but I resist. 🙂
    Mr. Smith, [citizen Smith?]
    Our present need for Independents in the House of Commons (HoC) has been a project of mine for a little while, the points you make as to the difficulties are well made.
    Apolitical = clueless?
    To debate ‘distinction’, we should first (mayhap) consider ‘difference’.
    Not this time, the road wideners, cleaner toilets brigade.
    But.
    Independents, free from Party affiliation for the purposes of Democratic development and renewal, Constitutional matters and citizenry rights etc.
    Few of the current bloc of MPs have had much to do with the economy, nothing more than following the party line, profitting personally and waving and shouting each time a TV camera appears.
    This cannot go on. Each community deserves their voice and their needs to be heard and attended to. This itself is beyond the capabilities of Party Politicos or we would not be where we are now.
    Thoughts as to a joint Manifesto have occupied the minds of the Independent PPCs and the good folk of the Independent Network.
    It is my firm belief that such a loose grouping of Independents standing in every constituency could attract popular support.
    There IS certainly yet time enough.

    • Admin says:

      Tom, you look good in the picture!

      I agree – “Each community deserves their voice and their needs to be heard and attended to.”

  3. Mike Smith says:

    No, Tom, ‘apolitical’ does not mean ‘clueless’. It means something like, a group of people working together but politically neutral/independent – i.e. free from party dogma and pressure, and not taking partisan sides, but able to make decisions based on individual (and constituents’) convictions and beliefs. You talk of ‘distinctions’ and ‘differences’. I feel the need for some ‘definitions’ coming on, but I will have to leave that until next week.
    Meanwhile, I sat through last night’s ‘Question Time’ with a heavy heart:
    All women short lists for selecting candidates – what a joke! It seemed like everyone on the panel professed initial scepticism, but now support. Surely the criteria should be ‘best guy for the job’ short lists!
    And the Tory (woman) MP who said money was not the motivation for becoming an MP, but the chance to do some good/make a difference. Great! I am sure there are thousands of women, and men, who feel the same. The reality is that most of them need some adequate financial cushion before they can allow themselves the luxury of such thoughts. THAT’S why prospective MP’s should be able to look forward to a decent salary, without having to look for dodgy ways of bolstering income, and if they could, we would have a lot more of the right sort of people putting themselves forward.
    And the self-rightnousness of the MP’s having been given a £1000 pay rise, but saying they won’t take it! I’m reminded of a friend of mine who had a favourite quote for such stances: “Time for a futile gesture, Carruthers.”
    And an all-female audience! Is that not a tad discriminatory, chaps? Imagine the outcry if there was to be an all-male audience.
    And when asked if the BBC had not ‘sold out’ to political correctness by having an all-female audience, every one of the spineless panel said what a wonderful and worthwhile experience it had been.
    This Establishment Village, including some journos and broadcasters, still doesn’t get it, does it?

  4. I am standing as Independent for Isleworth, Brentford (MiddX) and Chiswick. As someone of 50 I do not think age matters, I have life and political experience but some one young might have equally good ideas. I have found it difficult to get into contact with other independents for exchange of ideas etc. Missed the Jan workshop and anyway was snowed in. I would like Independents to be seen, heard, known as an opposition to the main parties. I really believe we could hold a balance of power, esp if a hung Parliament. Teresa

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