“Altogether rather grubby”

March 23, 2010

That was the quote from Peter Mandelson regarding the ‘cash for influence’ scandal that has hit Parliament. I think that it is a rather neat phrase – and not just for this incident, but for nearly all current MPs by the sounds of it.

First of all we had the expenses scandal; now this ‘cash for influence‘ scandal; and on top of all that, the BBC is reporting this morning that the rules regarding foreign trips have been breached on numerous occasions by multiple MPs.

It seems to be yet another case when you just want to bang your head against a brick wall and just scream – “do these people just not get it??!!

With all of these cases I’m sure that the media has taken a few things out of context and has happily created extra indignation (it’s what the tabloid media does best). However, the fact is that our MPs should just be beyond reproach, they just have the appearance of being beyond reproach.

The expenses scandal was, to my mind at least, a simple case of the rules of the club being broken and outdated and the fact that it was a ‘club’. Members had been brought up to believe that this was the way the club behaved and anyway, the members policed themselves. It was the expenses scandal that made me want to start this blog and support the concept of independent MPs as I thought that it highlighted that the system of selecting MPs – career politicians and party patronage – was broken. I purposely avoided pointing fingers at individuals as, apart from a few exceptional incidents, I felt that it was the system that the individuals worked within that was mainly at fault.

However, the latest incidents show that it is more than the rules of the club that are broken. Many of the individuals that choose to enter Parliament seem to be broken to start with – at least in moral terms.

I think a post from Ewan MacLeod sums it up well – Ewan isn’t known for commenting on politics (he writes the excellent Mobile Industry Review). But when he is moved to comment as an average voter – calling it “Simply ridiculous. Absolutely 100% ridiculous” then that shows the depths to which the current batch of MPs has sunk in the minds of the electorate.

Gordon, let’s call the election quickly and flush out this lot shall we?


What we’ve learned so far from the Iraq Inquiry

March 11, 2010

If you’re interested in what’s going on in the Chilcot Inquiry then there is a really interesting summary on the Channel 4 blog. Read it here.

I listened to Gordon Brown’s evidence the other day and thought the questions raised to him were so weak as to be almost pointless.

What I did think was interesting however, was Brown’s desire to show himself as an important politician in the Blair Government  – yet at the same time not so important as he actually had anything to do with the decision to go to war. I’m surprised he was willing to subjugate himself as much as he did.

But my main thought was – pah! I could have asked more incisive questions. It felt like a bit of a whitewash and a chance for Gordon to wash his hands of the affair before the election.


Independent Cabinet Members?

November 26, 2009

I’m really pleased to have received another guest post from Sonny. Of course part of the reason I’m pleased is that it saves me from writing posts – I can keep the debate going on here and still concentrate on the day-job. However, the main reason I’m pleased is that it raises another really interesting topic.

Over to Sonny.

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Think about independent MP and how this might impact the day to day running of government, it’s hard not to conclude that party politics in the current system will always win out. For the simple reason that even if 95% of MPs were independent and the other 5% was one party… the combined organisation and collaboration means that the party would rule.

So you can see how and why party politics have come to govern our country over the years. A group of like minded people coming together to unify resources. But this could mean something like 37% of the votes rules 100% of the population because they get to choose the cabinet from their group of like minded people. It’s frowned upon to do otherwise.

When Boris Johnson was campaigning for The Mayor of London he asked Menzies Campbell to work underneath him if he won. Campbell considered it but from what I can see to be peer pressure only, he turned it down. It would be “letting the side down” or “sleeping with the enemy” as it was construed. I thought this was a preposterous way to look at it. Johnson was simply asking the person he considered to be best for the job regardless of colour (party colour I mean) and the Lib Dems looked a gift horses in the mouth. They turned down the opportunity to be a seriously active part of a governing body, not just someone shouting from the side lines.

It was a sad day for politics and democracy in my opinion, but it shows how our government might be forced into picking a cabinet in the manner of “best of a bad bunch” rather than “best man for the job” (or woman obviously). I would have thought that a conservative would have been better suited to running the fiscal elements of government, where as a socialist better at social welfare issues, a green party member better at energy management, a BNP member on immigration (only joking, the only role they have in the cabinet is locked away in the bottom draw behind the bed linen… just my opinion though). Essentially though, our current system of choosing a government means that we are not utilising some of our countries finest talents, just because of their party affiliation.

In order to make sure Independent MPs is a viable option of government and not one that is sacked off after the first term in office I think we need to get rid of party politics altogether. So Fred Smith stands as Fred Smith for Northampton, not Fred Smith, Labour. You choose the person that best represents you as a constituent not who you think is more likely to stop the other party that you don’t like getting in. Tactical voting would no longer be an issue.

Instead we have a House comprising completely independent MPs, who get together to choose a Prime Minister and a Cabinet so that all MPs have as much of a say, rather than the situation we’ve had with Gordon Brown becoming an unelected PM. With the whole House choosing the Cabinet/PM who are in turn accountable to the whole house, this would encourage people to stand up for what they actually believe in and what their constituents believe in. Not the current system where some MPs suck up to those with a bit more power, just to get a nice seat in the cabinet and then when it all goes wrong they just all swap places and do just as bad a job. How many positions in Cabinet has Mr Mandelson held even after he has been involved in scandals…. (hushed tones from a lawyer)… allegedly.

This is surely a better form of democracy than party politics and first past the post?

– – –

Very interesting.

So, what do you think? Should we scrap party politics altogether?


Labour should cut Gordon Brown loose

June 3, 2009

That’s the argument from The Guardian today. It’s an interesting piece and one which doesn’t pull many punches, including this passage:

“The truth is that there is no vision from him, no plan, no argument for the future and no support. The public see it. His party sees it. The cabinet must see it too, although they are not yet bold enough to say so.”

So, will the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle result in a shuffling of Gordon Brown? We’ll see.