Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Political Parties’

Televised Debates for the 2015 General Election: Shouldn’t we hear from all those who could have power after 7th May, rather than just those who have won an Election before?

January 12, 2015 1 comment

Televised-election-debate-004

 

Just a week ago, the odds on Ofcom giving David Cameron an excuse not to enter the pre-General Election TV debates may well have looked pretty remote. Seven days on; one pull of the Green flush in the rules-room of the communications regulator and to some people, that is exactly what seems to have happened.

But however hard the PM might argue the moral justification of his apparent support for the Greens, few are buying into the apparent magnanimity of this gesture, even if for other reasons, he may unwittingly have a significant point.

The reasoning behind the decision to preclude the Greens and the smaller Parties has been based upon polling and previous electoral performance. It is a decision that would work favourably well if we were all looking to maintain the status quo, and only concentrate on the ‘establishment’, which itself now apparently includes UKIP, a Party that will arguably be assisted in fighting this Parliamentary Election on the basis of their electoral successes in Europe alone.

Polling does indeed seem to have become a science and dismissing this branch of statistics and the benefits of its use would be foolish however you might feel about it. However, polling is based upon people’s responses to questions regarding information that those people have about a situation, circumstances or what they are experiencing at that exact moment in time. It is little more than a snapshot and not one which can accurately predict how those same people would behave or react if they are given what they genuinely consider to be different options, or they find themselves having had an experience following the poll which would change their mind about the choices that they have.

All well and good if you are a ‘national-election-winning’ political party. But we are reaching the end of a 5 year Coalition Government, which came into being simply because none of the Parties running in 2010 with a chance of winning offered a platform which gained a decisive response from the public.

So when polling itself suggests that we are on course for the same, or perhaps an even greater dispersal of Parliamentary Seats amongst Parties, should it only be those same Parties, that by default then become the predominant members of the planned political telethon which could well influence the outcomes for our future?

The elephant in the room that political expedience fails to recognise was that in 2010, people didn’t feel convinced by the choices that they had. Voters didn’t anticipate a ‘hung parliament’ and very few would have been hoping for the final outcome, even if those who follow politics more closely will have seriously considered its probability as an outcome.

Whilst the Liberal Democrats paint this as being a choice, the unintended selection of indecisive Government burdened by compromise, arguably just because it suits the interests of the Political Parties who have most to gain, doesn’t really reflect upon putting the best interests of the Voting Electorate first.

Further compounding the ineptness and arguably self-serving nature of the decision by then introducing minimum 5 year Parliamentary Terms has not exactly given anybody else the feeling of legitimacy that was obviously intended either.

People want change. Voters want choice. The Electorate wants to see and understand the differences between ALL of the choices that are on offer.

With this in mind, it would perhaps be the case that the fairest way to select candidates for a televised debate would be to wait and see how many candidates have been accepted to represent each Party within Constituencies, and then in turn whether the number seeking election could form a majority Government if they were all elected.

In 1992, the Natural Law Party gained national exposure by fielding enough candidates across the Country to trigger access to Election Broadcasts. Yogic Flying may well have added an element of intrigue for some and outright comedy for others. But it certainly gave a televised forum to a Party that at the time could have painted a very different picture of Nineties Britain if they had collectively been elected to a position where they either held, or could influence power.

It’s a bit of a stretch in terms of what we might consider a likely outcome to view small Parties as contenders to form a majority Government on May 8th. But on the other side of this two-edged electoral sword, UKIP were of course never supposed to have won 2 Seats last Autumn, and the numerical requirement to get David Cameron or Labour‘s Ed Milliband in to No. 10 could turn out to be a lot less than the 57 Seats that the Lib Dems added to the Conservatives biggest-party-with minority-status last time around.

The truth of the peculiar political reality which may follow this General Election is more likely to rest in the hands of Nigel Farage (UKIP), Alex Salmond (SNP), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru), Natalie Bennett (The Greens) or perhaps even them all, than it is with the existing mainstream Parties who are not even trying to sound different in the way that some of their smaller competitors certainly are.

On this basis alone, and knowing the havoc that could be inflicted by the trade-offs that might include a black and white, in-out referendum on Europe; greater steps towards the independence of Scotland, or even the scrapping of the Nuclear Deterrent at a time when World stability is far from secure, should we not really have the opportunity to listen to what the potential kingmakers really have to say?

image: theguardian.com

 

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

Ballot-box_1861302c

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.

4847

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

Politicians and Political Parties should never automatically assume the respect of the people, nor that when they do, it equates to silence…

November 19, 2014 Leave a comment

article_img

Getting a true glimpse of the true nature of the respect that our politicians have for us isn’t an everyday event by any means. Yet recently, we have been treated to a series of insights in to the way we are all viewed by the people who either do, or soon hope to govern us. It doesn’t make particularly happy reading.

The fairytale halving of the £1.7 Billion bill from the EU and the Parliamentary vote on the European Arrest Warrant that never was, were both perhaps very telling of the way the current Coalition Government does its business. But it was the comments from the Labour Party following Ed Milliband’s workout with Myleene Klass on the ITV’s ‘The Agenda’ on Monday night which may have represented the lifting of a much bigger stone.

Watching the programme made good viewing. We rarely get the opportunity to see the kind of challenge which Myleene made, telling Ed why Labour’s Mansion Tax Policy isn’t going to work and effectively showing the whole idea up for the hollow, headline-grabbing and socially-divisive-pigeon-holing stunt that it is.

Apparently unable to deal with the broadside at the time, Tuesday morning not only saw a belated attempt by Ed to try and turn it around with a parody relating to Ms Klass’s time in the Band Hear’Say; it also brought comments from the Party suggesting that she had failed to show Mr Milliband respect, and also tweets from a Labour MP apparently suggesting that she should leave the Country.

All well and good to demand respect if you have actually earned it. But these guys all seem to think that being an MP is qualification in itself. Isn’t it right that we should have the right to question what they do?

The fact is that the UK is in the perilous state that it is right now, in no small part because of the inability of Party-affiliated MP’s to safely ask the kinds of questions or make points of this nature without fear of reprisal from their Political Parties.

Ed Milliband may well walk in to 10 Downing Street as the next Prime Minister in less than six months time. But if Labour will not accept the legitimacy of questions which show the lack of thought and consideration which has obviously gone into their policies now, what hope will there be for us all when they start to enact them?

image: itv.com

%d bloggers like this: