Getting to somewhere


I’ve started reading ‘The road to Somewhere, by David Goodhart, which describes the potential causes behind the dramatic shift in politics over the last few years. It talks in terms of people who belong anywhere and those that belong somewhere.

May herself gave a nod to such thinking in her ‘citizens of nowhere’ speech. “But, if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what citizenship means.” I don’t agree with her view of nationalism.

What struck me about the book however, was the statement at the bottom of the front cover ‘The New Tribes Shaping British Politics.’ It struck me that this is what is wrong with politics. It is all about tribalism.

One party gets in and pushes the country in one direction. The other party gets in and takes it back in the opposite. The country lurches from one side to the other. The electorate has no real choice. If it doesn’t vote Labour it is guaranteed Conservative and vice versa.

The irony is that each newly elected Prime Minister claims, in their acceptance speech, to be working for the whole country when this is patently not true. They are working in the best interest of their tribe. They get to the top by being able to manage the party machine and not necessarily by being the best politician for the country.

Party politics is the problem and until it changes then the party will always be more important than the people they purportedly serve. Political parties should be banned as should the whip system.

This is the way that politics has always been and so it can never change, or can it? Here is an alternative suggestion: Each constituent elects a candidate as it does now but without reference to a party. Once elected those who wish to be Prime Minister put their name forward and the MPs elect them using a single transferable vote system. The person who gets more than 50% of the votes gets the job.

The PM then defines the ministers they want to form a government. Once again the MPs put their names forward if they are interested in one or more positions and their colleagues vote. Again, those who get more than 50% of the vote get the job.

In this way, the people who get to do the most important roles are representative of the whole of parliament and not just the party faithful or cronies. They are those who can build relationships with other MPs and can deliver consensus. Laws and decisions may take longer but they will be better thought out and more representative of the views of the country.

Of course there would be a lot of resistance to such an approach, yet my suggestion is merely to show that alternatives could exist and that we don’t have to be stuck in this system which is unrepresentative and makes a mockery of what we call democracy.

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