Whether this is MPs claiming ridiculous expenses that under no stretch of the imagination could be justified as related to their work as an MP, or well-healed people employing other equally well-healed people to minimise the amount of tax they pay, employers reneging on pension deals and driving employees into poverty in an alleged hunt for economic growth and our protection from abuse being weakened by frankly corrupt relationships between newspapers, the police and party donors.
It is unsurprising that our citizens begin to feel that there really is little point in voting, when the choice is not for an individual, but for a political Party, the vested interests of which, take priority over the interests of the people.
There are concepts in life like society, morals, fairness, justice and they are an important part of life that are independent of questions of business, politics and money.
Speak of concepts like fairness and justice and some cynical people (who prefer to call themselves pragmatists or realists rather than cynics), will snort with derision, fairness and justice are fine in principle as long as they don’t interfere with more important issues like making money and striving for endless growth.
Take for example a situation where an old lady falls in the street. There is absolutely no legal obligation for me to help her, but I would still expect to be roundly and justifiably condemned if I walked passed and ignored her plight.
Bad behaviour is still bad behaviour whether it infringes against some identifiable statute or not, and it is time, in my view, that our system recognised the fact and attempted to reflect that in our political system.
If we subsume all our beliefs to pragmatism then what is it we actually believe in?
Of course we want to lock up terrorists but if we do that without recourse to the Law and fundamental beliefs of Habeas Corpus what are we fighting for? Are we not creating exactly the World we claim to be fighting against?
If I want a million pound bonus and the consequence of my having one is that an elderly person cannot afford to turn on her heating or buy food, then somebody really needs to give me what my Mother used to call ‘A bloody good shake” and tell me not to be so selfish and stupid.
It is time for a fundamental change in my opinion as clearly our politicians cannot be trusted with our money as they patently fail to discipline the bankers and other so-called ‘Captains of Industry’ who brought this Country to its knees and continue to pay themselves obscene bonuses and avoid tax with a mild case of “tut-tutting” from our firebrand leaders.
The problem is apparently that these geniuses will leave the Country if they are not paid their 6 figure bonuses or pay their fair share of tax. Well, I’ll take that chance – in fact let’s give them all a RyanAir ticket and ask them to mind the door doesn’t smack them on the backside on the way out.
Perhaps they can all go and live in Belize or Switzerland so they can be close to their money.
The FTT (Financial Transaction Tax) sometimes known as the Robin Hood Tax is one place to start and should be implemented immediately – it could be, in days given the will to do it.
But my belief is we need a fundamental change that puts responsibility back into the hands of individual MPs and takes it firmly away from the Party System.
We could start by cutting down the number of MPs from the current 650 or so to about 450 and ensuring that they worked full time and had no other jobs.
Each should be elected, effectively as an Independent, through a system akin to primaries in the USA, where they were elected to represent their Constituents, (which is what they are supposed to do anyway – but don’t).
They should not represent any political party. The parties can continue to exist if they wish, totally self-funded, but with no influence over individual MPs – in fact it should be an imprisonable offence to seek to do so. Thus, any attempt at what is currently referred to as “whipping” would be an illegal activity punishable by a period of time in the Pokey.
Once these MPs have been elected, having convinced their constituents that they are the right person for the job, they would be paid a proper full-time salary of around £100,000 per annum. If expenses are necessary (and they should be hugely limited), they will be in line with what most commercial organisations seem to be able to create a policy for – not some criminal conspiracy to artificially supplement their income.
Once we have our MPs elected – we entrust them with the responsibility of selecting the key Executive roles – e.g. PM, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary etc., on the basis that they have some sort of talent for it – not because they are mates of the Party Grandees and who can be relied upon to do as they are told.
That administration would then put together an agenda for the next 10 years which is published and we can measure them against.
Each MP then has a legal obligation to vote firstly, with their conscience and secondly, in line with what they believe would be the majority view of their constituents.
This is not to say they need to refer every single decision to their constituents – but they should always bear in mind the ability of their constituents to recall them if they consistently behave in a manner apparently out of line with their constituents’ wishes.
Each debate in Parliament thereby becomes meaningful and every MPs vote actually means something. Legislation is passed by simple majority.
But it is only parties that produce manifestos so how would we know what people stand for and the direction of policy?
Manifestos are overrated, as the joke goes; I telephoned the Liberal Democrat HQ and asked to buy a copy of their manifesto. I was told they had sold out. I replied I know, but could I have a copy of your manifesto?
Why is David Cameron PM when the only people who voted for him are the 34,000 voters who supported him in a small town in Oxfordshire? He runs the Country because he is the leader of a political party, not because anyone asked for him.
House of Lords? – sack the lot of them and have a wholly elected second reforming chamber. I am happy that they may have entirely different expertise and selection criteria from the Commons, but they will not be able to block or delay unduly any legislation that has a majority in the Commons.
Actually, the need for a reforming chamber becomes less important anyway if MPs are genuinely representative of their constituents not of some strange ideology favoured by their party masters.
We also have a huge Civil Service which I am sure are more than capable of producing a ‘personal manifesto’ which covers the main areas of belief of individual candidates, a pro-forma document that individual candidates can modify if they genuinely want to put forward unique beliefs.
This would also enable politicians to take the long view and implement policies that can benefit the Country years after their tenure and the short-termism brought about by the need to change parties periodically.
Oh Yes – and let’s not have any nonsense about residence or doms or non-doms. If you do not live full time in the UK or pay tax on all your income in the UK – then you should be excluded from any involvement or influence whatsoever in the political system.
If you want to live and pay tax in Belize good for you, clear off there and you can muck up their economy with your interference and leave political decisions in the UK to those who have to live with them afterwards.
Of course you won’t be allowed to take the money you made in this country with you until it has been seriously taxed and then you can start again and see how much you can generate from the huge tax-haven economy you are now resident in.
Yep, it’s about time that the Party really was over and we elected a parliament of representatives where every single MPs vote was of equal value and policy was decided by majority not by ideology!