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Britain’s Political Crisis: Set up a new political party; stand to be an independent MP; but however frustrated you are with Politics, do bear in mind…

December 2, 2014 Leave a comment

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Even the most fervent political party supporters will struggle to avoid acknowledging the general disillusionment and feeling that many people now experience with British Politics.

The fact is that all of the mainstream Political Parties – even UKIP, will continue the same way that they currently do so at their own peril.

For many of us, seeing yourself as being cut off and without even the remotest hope of being able to influence anything in Government is not a pleasant experience. Least of all when we see decisions being made which we can in no way relate to, or changes taking place in our own communities or neighborhoods which simply have no reflection on what we or anybody else that we know seems to think.

A lot of people toy with the idea of putting up or shutting up where today’s political mess is concerned.

It is also a pretty safe bet that whilst they may not openly talk about it, many of the people that you know will have experienced one of those moments where they just ‘know’ that things could somehow be a lot better and that the way things are today, simply aren’t right.

Some already have the platform to speak loudly about the injustices of a political system that serves its own interests before anyone else. Yet many more normal people outside the world of politics and celebrity are frustrated by the seemingly endless status quo where nothing ever changes and politicians happily tell us that everything is improving when quite frankly, just about everyone but them seems to know that it isn’t.

It comes as little surprise then, that in Elections, a growing number of people are voting for Parties and Independent Candidates outside of the ‘traditional’ remits of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties, and that there is in fact a growing number of political parties being established right across the Country.

Very few politicians are prepared to openly acknowledge the lack of balance and consideration for the consequences of ill-considered policy making throughout Government. But those that do almost certainly share the desire of all people outside of politics to see something different to what everyone else today seems forced to experience.

However, those that do understand both the situation and the way that British Politics works will also probably question just how much benefit the creation of a plethora of new movements will bring to us all, when what the UK needs is change of a very radical and meaningful kind. Change that we all need to experience right now.

The realities of starting a new political ‘Movement’

To get some real perspective on the impact a new political party is likely to make, the history of UKIP provides a very clear guideline.

Born from the embers of the Anti-Federalist League in 1993, it has taken the Party 21 years to get its first MP genuinely elected to Parliament and then, only through the focus of the electoral magnifying lense which is a Parliamentary By-Election.

As a single-issue party, it is arguably only what would be at very best a rare and perhaps unique combination of a cause célèbre – which gives UKIP a nationwide profile – and the current political climate that leaves the electorate looking for change, which now places the Party in a position of being ‘mainstream electable’.

Had Europe not been the UK’s political bogeyman for such a long time, UKIP or indeed the anti-European movement itself would have almost certainly been absorbed by one or perhaps all of the main parties long ago, if indeed the creation of a new political stream beyond that of the others had been necessary in the first place.

This fact probably demonstrates the greatest threat to any new party, as finding traction with any issue that is palatable in mainstream thinking is unlikely to take place much before one or more of the other Parties adopts a position on the same footing.

We only need to observe the way that the Conservatives and Labour are struggling to regain or rather recapture the initiative from UKIP over issues such as Immigration in recent weeks to understand what happens when an issue finds its way from the outside into what political commentators might call the centre ground.

However, in this instance, we are again seeing party political machines maneuvering themselves with the objective of securing future power, rather than engaging in any kind of meaningful change that demonstrates an understanding of the real issues which sit behind the public discontent.

Were it not so, David Cameron would hardly have been off to Europe to ask the permission of 27 other Countries to change laws which the electorate of his own Government so clearly want.

The Party Political Paradox: We want change. We all know this. We also know that the establishment isn’t working for us. But it’s called the establishment for a very good reason.

When you consider the history and conditions which have supported the longevity and then the rise of UKIP, you soon begin to realise that the biggest problem facing any new party will be its ability and likelihood of it becoming big enough to reach and engage enough people to gain the national level of recognition and momentum which could see it effect the kind of change that we all now actually need.

Nobody should be under any illusion that UKIP may well be poised to win anything from a handful to perhaps 30 seats in May 2015, but that in doing so, the very best that it could hope to achieve would be to win the support of the biggest Parliamentary Party for perhaps one or two key policies, as it then sells itself in compromise against everything else, just to have that moment of power.

In reality, this is an opportunity that UKIP may otherwise never have, as the de facto choice or established parties will continue to morph or adapt their policies to be seen to answer the ‘UKIP question’ and in doing so, work to assure themselves a working parliamentary majority again at the earliest available opportunity.

You may think that one moment is all that it will take. But we are all already experiencing the fallout from the political stalemate which ensues from a hung parliament, and this is at a point when most of the Westminster political Parties are culturally the same, even if their philosophical viewpoints don’t quite appear to match.

The hard fact is that we are facing a situation where we need a majority of MP’s to work together to address all the issues and to change all the policies which will impact upon those issues, whilst ensuring that the impacts of those changes do not then themselves cause other problems that people looking for balance and fairness in their lives simply do not need.

The situation creates a dilemma and significant paradox.

We are all either consciously or subconsciously aware that we do as such need political parties in the sense that they exist today – or an acceptance and appreciation of common ground between a majority of politicians, in order to effect the change for the better that we need within a genuine democracy.

However, we are all just as equally aware that it is being of the establishment that provides the platform or powerbase to enact change; ground which is currently infested with a self-serving political culture and party political system which quickly excludes voices for change and sings the song of populist thought whilst giving it nothing more than a hollow meaning.

So how can we really win?

The circumstances surrounding traditional politics in the UK dictates that it functions through a culture of compromise.

Furthermore, the contemporary Political Party machine puts submissive compromise at the core of its recruitment and management processes.

However, if compromise is necessary in any way at all, the policies which result will not have genuinely been created with consideration of the best interests or of the consequences for all truly in mind.

In order for us all to win, it necessarily requires that there is a genuine change in mindset, whether that be for the incumbent Political Parties – which would arguably be a much more productive situation for everyone; or that change itself manifests within the many new and existing groups and independently minded people out here in our communities who so desperately want to see that change, that they are ready to stand for political office.

Moving forward

You may have heard the saying ‘you can’t beat the system’, and if you have come up against the way that Government and all things Legal work, you will probably be able to see the truth in this statement – even when you know that the system is itself flawed and fundamentally wrong.

For those who have been burned by the frustrations and the ‘banging your head against a brick wall’ that comes with it, there is no pleasure in seeing new and enthusiastic people entering politics who either quickly become disillusioned with the realities of the system, or simply buy in to a culture where all those that follow people who lead only for themselves then come to live and believe the idea that ‘this is just the way that things are’.

It may seem that way to those who are prepared to accept the status quo as it is and not take any risks.

But that simply isn’t the truth, and all it would take is for enough of the people already within the system to say ‘no more’ for a real difference to begin unfolding.

Change the system from within (But don’t buy in to the propaganda…)

The easiest way that we could create change, would be for that change to come from within the system itself and that would mean influencing politicians at all levels by becoming the voices that they have no choice but to listen to, i.e. part of the Parties themselves.

The problem with this approach is that it has been tried all too many times, and some very good people have failed or ultimately have become part of the very problem that all of us ‘out here’ are currently experiencing. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely…

Today we are experiencing the outcome of decades of the development of a party political system which favours the ascendency of a whole generation of politicians who treat political office as little more than a job and career, rather than being the responsibility to the electorate that most of us outside of the ‘bubble’ know that it should actually be.

Most Westminster party politicians get selected and promoted thereafter by saying and doing the right things for the right people, and most sitting MP’s today will have made it to Parliament by going along a career pathway which equips them to progress within the system extremely well, but gives them little working knowledge of what the real world is like outside.

How can they make genuinely good decisions effecting the lives of others when they have no real life experience themselves?

The very sad and highly regrettable reality is that getting enough of our sitting MP’s to change and give the British people the real voice that they should have through a majority is very unlikely.

The political culture of today says ‘don’t rock the boat or you will get thrown out’ and very few politicians are brave enough to take on a system which takes control freakery into a whole new realm.

Change the system from without (But don’t look at your fight as being one that you can win alone…)

This is where the creation of a new movement or party becomes the attractive option. But with the realities of establishing just one party that could make a difference covered above, there has to be an acceptance that creating a whole plethora of organisations will in time prove to be no more effective than getting a similar number of independent MP’s elected to Parliament.

On their own, small, localised and local community-based-issue parties will very occasionally gain enough momentum to get an MP Elected. But as just one of over 600, you can soon see how little chance there would be of making any measurable kind of difference for us all.

Working together is however a very different situation and if it were to be the case that the genuine commonality could be found between all of the disparate groups that are currently ‘out here’ already, or which may be launched at some point in the future, the potential would then exist for something very special to happen.

Knowledge of the Net and Social Media makes the task sound very easy. But without a formula which lights that spark between a whole range of people who have had the independence of mind and motivation to get something ‘of their own’ started, the prospects for success are pretty slim.

After all, some may simply be falling into the trap of thinking that politics is all about one idea ‘winning’ against the ideas of someone else and it is likely to be the case that for many, that very idea is based upon an issue which is personal to them and perhaps just a few people that they know.

The truth of the matter is that if every politician made every decision and promoted every cause on the basis of what will serve the best interests of all, whilst also considering and making allowances for the impact of those decisions on everyone else as they do so, we would no longer require left-wing or socialist politics, parties of the centre ground, or indeed the politics of the right.

Tribal politics makes debate a competition, rather than a process of exploring the methods and plans which will genuinely solve the problems that we all face.

The cold hard reality is that however fair, just or right the ideas might be which underpin the motives of a new party; without losing the idealism, the philosophy and the ‘my idea is better than yours’ mentality, any new movement is unlikely to prove itself to be any better than the Conservatives, Green, Liberal Democrats, Labour or UKIP Parties given time.

Thinking a different way:

As a culture, we have been conditioned to look at everything we experience in terms of how it either relates to or affects us personally.

This has taken place at a subconscious or even subliminal level and anyone who really wants to effect change by creating a new political movement, must themselves become mindful of the processes which sit behind this for themselves, and then begin encouraging others to also be mindful of the impact that everyone and everything has on us, the people in our lives and the world we live in.

This is no mean feat and has to be achieved without getting sucked into any of the idealist elephant traps which litter this road, such as green energy, which while being very laudable, has significant practical implications for a society of 60 Million+ people and a situation which simply doesn’t advocate the immediate binning of all other forms of energy or raising taxes on other things to subsidise it.

More and more people are waking up to the lack of balance and fairness in their own lives and those of others. But just as in the case of the Hundredth Monkey or what we colloquially call ‘memes’ that virally attract attention in what seems like the blink of an eye, the kind of awakening and preparedness that we are discussing here will have to reach a point of critical mass or the seminal moment when a positive direction of travel which cannot be influenced by any of the powers that are aligned against it is achieved.

Regrettably we have to accept that this may not be a realistic prospect on an organic basis alone.

Wait for the wheels to fall off from the inevitable meltdown (that has probably already started…)

Bleak as it may sound and as unfavorable as it may be, change itself may well have to be precipitated by a meltdown or history-changing event which opens the general population to thinking in a very different way. One that also leaves politicians who are not prepared to put the genuine need of the electorate first, with no power to prevent the ascent of those who are.

Today, there are a considerable number of issues which at one degree or another could easily prove to be the catalyst or forerunner of an event, or series of events which create the seedbed for this situation.

These could be:

  • The economy: The UK is effectively bankrupt and accumulating debt at an unprecedented rate. Politicians are continuing to write cheques on the basis of winning elections, rather than doing what they really need to do. The Chancellor’s spending spree this week does not reflect the perilous state of both the Deficit and the National Debt and the irresponsibility of thinking that borrowing can continue to grow at the current rate, just to keep a small number of people in power takes stupidity to a whole new level. Interest rates rising alone after the next General Election could be enough to blow the Deficit wide open and to a level which cannot be sustained by putting the problem off for someone else to deal with. What happens when the Government can borrow no more?
  • The Cost of Living Crisis: Beyond the Labour Party’s attempt to hijack a real issue and hollow it out for political gain, the disparity between rich and poor, the housing crisis, price rises on essential goods, cuts in public services, energy prices, low pay, the broken welfare system, non-reform of Banking and the City, and the cultural inclination to look at every transaction and relationship in terms of the profit it will make, could all lead to civil rest of a kind which would eclipse the Summer Riots of 2011 and potentially make Revolution seem like a very real prospect.
  • ISIS & Terrorism: We really do not know what lies ahead and what the impact will be of the growth of this rogue state, and indeed what its real impact will be upon our own society if terrorism should return to the UK at any great and continuing level.
  • Other: Issues such as the overextension of ‘rights’ and what this is doing to our society could also have an impact of a kind which right now may seem fanciful to those with their heads buried firmly in the sand.

The West’s deteriorating relationship with Russia and Ebola also come to mind, and whilst it may sound alarmist to even suggest thinking about the realities which could all lay behind, the fact remains that any of these issues could blow up into something which could become very meaningful to us all at any time.

***

We do need new people to come forward; to bring change and to introduce a new dimension in politics; to create a new paradigm which genuinely serves the best interests of us all. But those who want change also have to see the situation for what it is, and ‘play the game’ that it has all become.

As a population, we most certainly do deserve something better and it is possible to have it too. We just have to be realistic about the route which we will have to travel to get there and what the true cost and implications of that journey might be.

But if you are thinking about starting a party or standing in an election and you think that your own ideas are the best, or that your own interpretation of someone else’s political philosophy is the only way we will win; the fact is that we are already one person nearer to everyone losing a whole lot more.

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Image: Top – telegraph.co.uk, Bottom – absolutesocrates.com

Senates, Directly Elected Mayors, Referendums on Independence and UKIP’s ongoing tour-de-force are all highlighting the same message. The political classes are just missing the point

November 3, 2014 Leave a comment

images-4Labour plans for a Senate to replace the House of Lords and the Conservative gift of a Directly Elected Mayor for Greater Manchester may outwardly look like serious attempts by the political elite to demonstrate how seriously they wish to reengage with the electorate. But do we really need even more elected politicians, when most of those in the system that we already have are not in touch with the people that they have the responsibility to represent?

Reform of the House of Lords is itself hardly original news. Whilst there are significant questions to be answered about the concept of hereditary peerages when it comes to the attribution of power and responsibility, adding yet another layer of what would essentially be no better, is not going to help anyone, when all that people need is for the political classes that are already in power, is to stop thinking about themselves; finally start to listen to the voters who elected them, and then start acting upon what they have heard.

As seems to have become the tragic and regrettable norm with many politicians, the messages that continue to come from the ascendency of UKIP; from the Scottish Independence Referendum, and from voter disquiet in general are at best – quite literally being missed.

The establishment-shaking popularity of UKIP portrays the current feelings of desperation from up and down the Country, of a population which longs for its political representatives to speak with voices that sound like their own. A genuine desire and practical need for a government that makes us all feel like we are ‘in it together’, rather than being patronised and simply told that we already are. It says very little for the idea of respect when it comes to the status quo.

The Scottish Referendum demonstrated to us in basic terms how the population of just one area of the UK so desperately wants to feel engaged with politicians in a way which leaves the decisions that matter in day-to-day life, in the hands of decision makers who are not only geographically local, but are both seen and felt to be in touch with the needs of the people whom their decisions will ultimately effect.

Scotland’s great advantage in making its voice heard has been the geographical boundary and demographic history which as an identifiable group, has allowed it to become as tribal as the political parties are in Westminster. However, the realities of what our fellow countrymen and women living in Scotland want from British politics is no different to people living in any other area of the UK. We want politicians and leaders who really do put what is best for all before anything else.

Voter disquiet and apathy will not be solved by developing or strengthening a political apparatus that is already perceived by the silent majority, as being rotten from the bottom to the top.

People are not stupid. They know that today’s political system exists to keep the same kinds of people in power – many of whom have no real idea how the people they were elected to serve actually live and survive.

As is the case with the NHS, it is neither the concept nor the physical structure of the institution that is broken.

It is the impractical ideologies, the self-serving motivations and the elect-me-focused policies borne of the people that lead from within the political system that are at fault and fail to serve with objectivity and balance. Misinformed and misguided concepts and ideas that are used to manage and maintain; not for the better interests of the people that the services and systems of government exist to serve; but to prioritise the interests of the people who benefit most from being ‘within’ them.

The five tiers of Government that already exist were not created by accident. The tools are in place to make all the changes which we need, without creating ever more ‘jobs for the boys’, or by installing yet more ways to take power even further away from the very people who want it back the most.

Whether it’s a Parish, Town, Borough, District, County or Unitary Authority that represents us where we live, the only way that people will become interested, supportive and reengaged en-masse, will be when power is returned from Westminster and Brussels, and decisions which always should be made locally, are made locally.

Politicians can come up with as many inadvertently deceitful devices as they like and roll them out through a media which flourishes on the idiocy of it all. But if they really want people to start respecting them again, they are the ones who will have to start respecting the people who elected them first.

 

image: quotespoem.com 

 

 

 

Spending Review & Local Authorities: We need change and a resurgence of ethics, not coercive micromanagement by stealth and an even greater distance between people and Government

images (51)With £11.5 Billion in further cuts set to be outlined in the Coalition’s Spending Review later today, I will probably not be alone in asking myself if this is really going to make the difference that the UK really needs.

Of course, many of us have got far too used to asking such questions only of ourselves as we wonder if there is simply any point in asking the same of anyone else and particularly those Politicians who would actually be in the position to give an honest answer if they so desired.

Many of the Politicians we see on TV are spending increasing amounts of airtime telling us that they are listening. But are they really hearing?

Listening to the news in recent days, you may have heard the suggestion that cutting budgets has not been a failure of the Coalition and that it is in fact the continuing problems with the economy and its inability to deliver the income expected at the time of the 2010 Spending Review that is the real issue. An issue which now of course sees George Osborne scratching away at what he appears to see as the tried and tested…

Of course, those like me who currently inhabit the local government political pool will be looking on in horror at the prospect of a further 10% Central Government funding cut from 2015/16.

Cuts in just in this area alone since 2010 have placed a massive strain on service delivery and are quietly playing out in the loss of arguably vital community resources which were once taken for granted and even affecting the speed and quality of pothole repairs on roads which most of us probably feel should be resurfaced when a hole appears rather than undergo repetitive re-patching for the umpteenth time, bearing in mind the amount we seem to keep paying for them.

Played out across all tiers of Government, the Quangos and Non-Government Organisations, the open secret in all this is that efficiencies have to be found. But the elephant in the room sadly remains missed and the rise of shared services, business services outsourcing and privatisation of services forced on us by budget cuts and imposed ceilings on Council Tax rises will never resolve the biggest issue of all which is the need for comprehensive reform across Government at a fundamental and cultural level.

Change is essential to move inefficient and unproductive ways of working which have developed over many decades of protectionist management; Change which will lead into the delivery of services which once again have their focus upon the benefit to the end user and when selflessly applied, targeted and managed as they should be, are likely to deliver savings all the same.

Ethical working based on doing what is right for all, rather than what works best for those making the decision, has to once again become the norm rather than the exception. For it is this institutionalised and subsequently conditioned practice which has created many of the problems not only in finance, but also in the quality and efficiency within all parts of Government which the Coalition now faces, manifested in services ranging from traffic management to the NHS.

Making savings of the level that have faced George Osborne was never going to be an easy task. But simply addressing the problem by imposing cuts that are ultimately doing nothing less than changing the systems which support everyday people to live real lives and takes Government further away from the public who pay for it is never going to be right. Worse still; it won’t solve the problem.

image thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Principles for meaningful change in British Politics

March 18, 2013 1 comment

grass-roots-headerMost people think that Politicians always lie and that they don’t have principles.

To achieve meaningful change for this Country, this perception must change. The sense of what is right and the sense of justice which inspired many Politicians into seeking Public Office, must no longer be compromised because of decisions made which are best for the individual concerned, or for the benefit of the Political Party to which they have become affiliated.

When I was first Elected on 2007, I was not alone in being horrified at how quickly it became apparent that decisions were made in Government on the pure basis of what was good for the Party, the Group Leaders, or was most likely to result in ‘good press’ or electability in the long run, before anything or anybody else was ever really considered.

Only sheer weight of numbers would ever result in any meaningful results which went against this non-democratic tsunami, primarily because many ‘junior’ Politicians do not want to risk disfavour or risk losing their Seats because they have been seen to disagree with the Party ‘line’.

This is not democracy in its correct sense and every voter is being failed at one point or another. The way that decisions are made in a proper democratic process is by majority, but the way that majorities usually get formed today is wrong, and this means that we are getting wronged the majority of the time.

People before Politics.

Every decision that Politicians make should be focused on the benefit to the majority of people; not the priorities of the few or of the Politicians themselves.

Practicality before Perfection.

We all like the idea of living in a perfect world, but perfection can only ever be an aim in an imperfect world and Politicians must make decisions based upon their practical impact; not just on what they would like to see.

Policies made in isolation lead to isolationist Policies.

Just as one policy may be used as an excuse not for enacting another, new policies should not be created without consideration of their real impact upon or collectively with others. Politicians now need to review the whole System and not use the size of this task as an excuse for not doing so.

Politics is better when it isn’t Personal.

Politics should never be about personalities and when it is, it is a sure sign that those talking are thinking primarily about themselves.

Fear is no excuse in itself.

Any policy made only with emotion and feeling in mind does not consider the wider picture and the full implications. Too many decisions have historically been made by Politicians because of a climate of fear. Over-reaction and under-reaction can be destructive in equal measure and however emotive a subject can be, emotions are personal and do not reflect consideration for what is best for the majority in its strictest and most comprehensive sense.

One size never fits all.

We are all different and policies must recognise and embrace those differences in all ways, but without recourse to any form of discrimination whether that be positive or negative.

Decisions affecting us all similarly should be made by Central Government, whilst decisions based upon Locality should rest in the Locality with Local People and their Political Representatives.

Central Government has as much responsibility to reflect, consider and act upon the decisions made by Local Representatives as it does have the right to ask others to respect the decisions which are made universally for us all.

Lifestyle choices should be for those living that life.

The preferences and actions of individuals should never be questioned or put in doubt so long as they do not compromise the physical safety, security, lifestyle and freedom of choice of others.

A crisis of conscience for one, is no excuse in itself to prevent the lifestyle choices of another and Government should never support it as such.

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