The political system at the moment seems to be ruled by a political class, but there is a good reason for that: to get elected to parliament you need to have money and infrastructure behind you. Currently the best way of receiving both of them is to be a member of a political party, work your way up through the ranks, showing your support and allegiance, hoping that the pay off will be winning election. In other words you have to be a career politician.
Another way that is being discussed at the moment is to be a celebrity. By the nature of your celebrity you will already have in place some money and infrastructure in place (or fairly easy access to both).
I’ve nothing against career politicians or celebrities and I’m sure that there are many decent people amongst them who would (and are) make outstanding representatives of the people in parliament. However, both groups seem detached from the ‘ordinary person’ and that detachment doesn’t seem very healthy to me.
My view is that there is probably a fair number of people that would be interested in becoming an MP and serving their local community (and a relatively high demand for that from voters). However a lot of people who may be interested in being an MP are being put off by the cost (deposits, cost of printing literature and other publicity as well potentially time off work); the scale of the task (posting flyers or knocking on the door of everyone in your constituency, not to mention creating and managing policies); and the fact that winning is probably unlikely.
I think some form of support network is needed to help those people out. This would definitely not be a political party in the traditional sense – there would be no manifesto and once elected no whips – instead it would offer support – financial, physical, organisational and perhaps emotional to help these people take on the satus quo.
The network would not be about trying to match the established parties politically – that’s up to each individual independent candidate. But it would be about trying to match the parties’s infrastructure.
Perhaps then we could have a fair fight at the ballot box and we would be able to offer the electorate a real alternative.