A very British coup?

I wonder how many readers of this article in the Mail by Simon Walters actually thought beyond that which they read. Whether the story is based on fact as alleged, or Walters has taken up writing fiction, matters not.

When one takes into account the supposed “charisma” of party leaders – and at this point I digress slightly to remind readers that we get opinion polls showing which party leader is best trusted to lead the country – it is possible to see that a “presidential element” enters any general election. This immediately begs the question that if the public are to be asked who they consider to be the most trusted leader, then should the public not elect that person?

Let us look at how David Cameron and Ed Miliband achieved the position of leaders of their respective parties. Cameron was chosen by party members and his own MPs; Miliband was chosen by party members, his MPs and trade unionists. In the case of Miliband, being a believer in wealth distribution is no doubt why the trade union votes swung the election in his favour.

The present occupier of the office of prime minister, David Cameron, gained office on the back of 33,973 votes in the 2010 general election; all those votes being cast in his constituency of Witney, which has a total of electorate of 78,220. Achieving the support of 43.4 percent of the Witney electorate, Mr Cameron did not even achieve a majority in his own locality. The same can be said of the person next hoping to attain the office of prime minister, namely Ed Miliband. He achieved 19,673 votes in the constituency of Doncaster North from a total electorate of 72,000+, of which only 41,483 (57%) bothered to turn out. Consequently, as can be seen, neither did Ed Miliband achieve a majority in his own locality. Consider also that Cameron holds office based on just 10,703,654 Conservative votes, from an electorate of 45,844,691, representing only 36% of the votes cast and less than a quarter (23%) of the electorate – a set of statistics, I would suggest, that will not differ much from those achieved by Miliband if he should be successful at the 2015 general election.

Bearing in mind that the electorate only get to choose their “government” once every five years; that once chosen we have no further power over them during their tenure of office; and that during that period and for the reason stated, said “government” and leader can do very much whatever the hell they want, did not Cameron exercise a coup? Are not Miliband and Johnson, each in their own way, attempting a similar coup?

So, as we can see, someone gets themselves elected to the position of party leader. gets elected as an MP and thus becomes prime minister, without at any stage in the process gaining a majority not just in the country but even in his/her own locality. That cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called democracy – it is far more akin, bearing in mind the content of the preceding paragraph, to a dictatorial coup.

One of the greatest deficits in representative democracy is the fact that there is no separation twixt that of the legislature and the executive. Consider: members of the ministerial team – the core of the executive – are appointed either from MPs in the House of Commons, from the Lords, or, not uncommonly, are appointed to the Lords for the purpose of making them ministers. The use of the Commons as the recruitment source for most of the ministers has a highly corrosive effect on the institution. Although the main functions of parliament should be scrutiny of the executive and a check on its power, all MPs who have ministerial or secretarial positions hold dual roles as members of the executive and the legislature; a situation which promptly means that there is a conflict of interest. Typically, there are around 140 ministers, whips and other office-holders in theCommons. . known as the “payroll vote” – people who are forced to support the government in divisions or suffer loss of “office”, who will therefore defend its policies and actions. But the problem is far worse than this because we can then add the Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) and the “political ladder climbers” who have hopes of advancement but have not yet been promoted, whereupon the number climbs to 200 or so on the government benches who have no intention of holding the government to account.

I would venture the suggestion also that a reasonable number of those who enter Parliament have no real interest other than pursuing the career they have chosen – all they wish to do is climb up the ladder in order to achieve more and more power over their fellow man, with an eye on future lucrative earnings once they tire of parliamentary life.

If we are to correct that deficit in our democracy then it must follow that a member of the executive cannot be a member of the legislature. If we are to have true democracy, the person hoping to become prime minister must stand for election not just in his/her constituency, but nationwide. If we are to have true democracy, those wishing to stand for parliament must first be selected as a candidate by all the voters of the constituency in which they wish to stand; thus to form a “pool” from which an MP can be chosen.

The foregoing is but a brief outline behind the reasoning of Demand #3 of the Harrogate Agenda. Lets face it; if we are going to have democracy then let us have it – and not that which passes as such under the misnomer of representative democracy.


2 Responses

  1. A K Haart says:

    “I would venture the suggestion also that a reasonable number of those who enter Parliament have no real interest other than pursuing the career they have chosen”

    I agree. In career terms, it’s a major personal coup and not one any ambitious MP is likely to endanger over a matter of principle.

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