Political anoraks and activists like myself tend to get very excited about certain subjects such as reform of the House of Lords.

But while a country in which most of those involved in politics paid no attention to constitutional issues would, in the long term, pay a heavy price in lost freedom and worse government, all the polls suggest that those issues are not what most of the electorate are most bothered about at the moment.

The polls I've seen suggest that most voters want the government to concentrate on bread-and-butter issues like Jobs, the NHS, and the cost of living (especially fuel prices) such issues.

Fieldwork for the most recent poll concerned was a week ago and I dare say that if you repeated it today there would be a lot more concern about sorting out the banks.

And with the economy in its' present state, it would be a very arrogant politician who suggested that the voters were wrong to want parliament to focus on getting the country out of this mess and focussing on the bread-and-butter issues while doing so.

I know that David Cameron gets this - I've heard presentations on the subject twice in the past month from one of his closest advisors - and perhaps there is a challenge to all the political parties to show that the concerns of the political class are also those of the country.


Jim said…
Usually the concerns of the political parties contradict the concerns of the public.

People are disengaged in politics because people have absolutely no say in politics at all. Every 5 years we get to put a tick in box for who should represent us, of course they never do, they represent the party, not the people who elect them. They can break every manifesto promise in the first week, and still be safe in the knowledge there is nothing we can do about it for the next five years.

So reform, well lets start with the lower house: How about,

An End to party whips, and the ability of every constituency to raise a petition for a vote of no confidence in there elected MP, after 18 months.

A shorter term, 5 years too long, each year, too short, perhaps 3 years is better (a settle in year, a do something year, and a campaign for next election year.

A directly elected PM (by the people every 3 years)

An end to general elections (1/3 of the house elected each year).

This would at least ensure that the people who are selected to represent the constituents who vote for them, actually do so.
Chris Whiteside said…
Some interesting ideas there - some of which are used in other countries. Israel for exammple has a directly-elected P.M. Another which is very close to something the government is pledged to introduce.

"Recall" petitions giving voters the power to force a by election where an MP has misbehaved were in the coalition agreement.

A lot of councils change over by thirds, as does the US senate, although the vast majority of national parliaments use a four or five year term and then have a general election.

The US House of Representatives is elected for two years at a time however.

To be honest I think there is a balance to be struck between having parliamentary terms which are long enough to make it possible for governments to survive measures which are essential for the long-term but cause short-term pain, but short enough that MPs do not get hopelessly out of touch.
Jim said…
Other countries, especially the USA have one great advantage.

That is the parliament had a starting point. Ours was more power being slowly stripped from an absolute ruling monarch to more of a constitutional monarchy, which over time gained more and more power from the monarch and the people invested this bit, then that bit then this other bit, as we wont them, in elected representatives.

Things like Cromwell, the Magna Carter etc.

Im no republican as such and would not campaign for the end to monarchy. I think the Queen does a great job, and its a great idea to keep her, and wheel her out to wave at tourists and things.

The thing is, because the people have no power of recall, over those in whom they have invested their trust and power, I am reminded a little of Orwell.

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

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