A few days ago the Independent gave us the news of a report issued by the Political & Constitution Reform Select Committee (P&CRSC), the actual report being accessible here. Readers will find mention made in the Select Committee report of a ‘new’ Magna Carta, something about which I wrote on the 5th of this month.
In their attempts to solve the problem of low public participation in politics and thus in voting, the Select Committee have committed what may be called a cardinal error: they have failed to realise that when a problem exists, in order to solve it, first it is necessary to discern what the root cause of the problem actually is; coupled with their failure to define the subject matter of their deliberations.
There is much wordage about the usual reasons that are put forward for the problem of low electorate participation in politics, together with the usual solutions; compulsory voting; extending the franchise to 16 & 17 year-olds, increasing the participation by the BME and other sections of society. Above all there is much mention of the word ‘democracy; – and it is here that they fail dismally as they make no attempt to define the word.
The Select Committee even had a clue to the problem when they acknowledged that the electorate feel disconnected from Westminster and felt their vote made no difference – and still they were unable to recognise said clue. The report even contains a statement by the Minister to the Constitution stating: There is no one quick fix. If there was we would have implemented it already. (page 80)
The political class are wedded to the idea of representative democracy and fail to acknowledge the defects that it contains. Not only that, but they have obviously shut their minds to the logical fact that when a system is obviously not working it is normal practice to see if an alternative exists which would solve the problem(s) currently being experienced.
This is illustrated by John Major who reportedly said, talking about Ukip, on the Marr Show:
They are anti-everything. They are anti-politics; they are anti-foreigner; they are anti-immigrant; they are anti-aid. I don’t know what they’re for. We know what they are against, and that’s the negativity of the four-ale bar. That’s not the way to get into Parliament and not the way to run a country. So they may be elected because people are frustrated.
If we accept that which Major says then this begs the question of just why are those who vote Ukip anti politics; why are they ‘anti-foreigner’; why are they anti-aid – and more to the point, why does he think the problem exists and what is his solution. It is very easy to criticise, to complain but there is no point in doing either unless an alternative can be offered.
But Ukip are not alone, if we are to believe reports in our media – a growing number of the electorate are reported to feel just the same. The problem with Ukip is that they are led by those who also wish to perpetuate representative democracy purely because they too wish to achieve ‘power’. That is undoubtedly the reason that those who support Ukip feel as they do – they have been led by those who do not understand even the basics that cause the problems they espouse – and the same can be said of every other political party in existence.
When our politicians are confronted with irrefutable fact they totally ignore it and continue with their memes – witness my recent confrontation with David Cameron. It has to be said that neither is that the way to get elected to Parliament; nor once elected, how to behave.
Richard North writes about Philip Hammond indulging in ‘fantasy politics’ – but then this is nothing new as we have been engaged in ‘fantasy politics’ for decades now, both where the EU is concerned and, most definitely, at ‘home’. Regular readers will know only too well what I am ‘banging-on’ about – and new readers only need to go here and read the ‘explanatory articles’ in the left-hand side bar.
When articles such as this can appear without any rebuttal from our political class; when an MP and MEP can co-author papers on ‘direct democracy’ which still allow Parliament to remain sovereign; and when constituents can raise perfectly logical questions of their MP and be ignored – then we the people will remain in the same condition as a turkey at Christmas.