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Posts Tagged ‘Political Reform’

The #Indyref2 question will only be a problem for Boris whilst Sturgeon continues to frame the debate

December 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Whatever misgivings you might have about Boris’ Premiership, a week on from the General Election with a whirlwind of policy announcements already made, the Prime Minister certainly appears to be pulling out all the stops to pay back Voters for the victory that he and his Conservatives have just won.

Whilst the realities that underpin Boris’ deal with the EU and the implications of a border down the middle of the Irish Sea remain to be seen, the fact is that what appears to be a full-frontal assault on so many areas of Public Policy in the first days of this new majority Government do indeed echo the Campaign mantra that this is a PM out to get things done.

In fact, so committed and with it so powerful does this new administration now appear to be, there is an inherent danger that the wheels of government being thrown into gear after years of stagnation at the hands of a hung Parliament might just propel Boris and his advisors into the trap of overlooking the devil that lies in all the details and with it, ignoring the herd of elephants which populate an already overcrowded policy changing room.

One of the problems that Boris really now needs to look in the eye, rather than pretend that his mandate gives him license to ignore it, is the question of Indyref2. A problem that under the stewardship of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP’s expansive presence at Westminster now shows little sign of going away.

Where the Indyref2 problem is concerned, it doesn’t matter to Sturgeon and the SNP what the People have already said. The experience of the past few years has shown that democracy doesn’t matter when power is in the hands of politicians who can only see roads ahead of them that lead to where they believe they will get their own way.

There is a certain truth to the idea that the flea which the SNP has become to Boris’ majority dog would certainly be prevented from jumping if more attention was to be paid by the media and government to how poor and arguably unfit the SNP is actually to govern now, at a time when they only hold certain powers in Scotland.

But killing this parasitic form of politics and replacing it with one that works symbiotically for Scotland as an important part of the UK and for us all will not be achieved whilst any sizable part of the electorate believes that a Scotland run independently from the rest of the UK is the only change possible that will look and feel like a better way.

What the SNP want for Scotland certainly won’t be good for it. But allowing the argument to be framed by the Scottish First Minister as it is, being about them vs. us, isn’t going to help anyone other than Sturgeon and the SNP. It certainly will not benefit the Scottish Voters who themselves only want to be valued in the same way that English, Northern Irish and Welsh Voters in the South do – which can be achieved only by approaching politics in this Country in a very different and arguably much bigger way.

On the face of it, devolution in Scotland and Wales appears to be a very fair thing.

Most people would agree with the sentiment that power should rest as close to the People as decision-making can appropriately be made.

But what most People don’t realise is that the hurry for devolution in the late nineties under the Blair Labour Government wasn’t anything to do with Blair and his charges being in power for and on behalf of the People.

Devolution and the concept of Regionalisation was a giant lie. A sop to gain favour with the EU, which itself always planned to break up Nation-states through regionalization and the supposed devolution of power to more localised administrations.

Its what you might otherwise recognise as a tried and tested system of divide and conquer – albeit presented in a very sanitised and legitimised form – which could very quickly bear some fruit for the EU if Sturgeon should be successful in getting her way.

Power crazed politicians don’t compromise. Neither do they back down when they believe that their power is growing and that by keeping going like a rabid dog, more will soon be coming their way.

The way to put an end to the political argument that Independence through Indyref2 is the only way that Scottish Voters can have more, is for the UK Government to give ALL UK Voters more power over the decisions that effect their daily lives.

And that means undercutting the Sturgeons and the Prices and giving real teeth to the lower tiers of Government and Local Authorities that already and have historically existed, rather than continuing under the misguided belief that any devolution of power needs the creation – and therefore the politicization – of even more.

If all Public Policy decisions were devolved to the lowest tier of Government or where it would be most appropriate for that decision to be made – and central Government were only to oversee a framework where cross-areas implications may need to be considered – People would very quickly start to become a lot more engaged with all forms of government and have a much bigger interest.

Such re-enfranchisement would require immediate political reform.

But as significant political reform still remains necessary to make Westminster Politics viable for the long term, it would not be any great shakes to look at how Party Politics and self interest needs to be handled differently or indeed flushed out from the top to bottom of our political system and cleaned out through and through.

You cannot fault Nicola Sturgeon for continually trying as she does. But her politics is very much of the old kind. It is about the consolidation and expansion of her own power base, rather than anything related to the genuine improvement of the lives and experiences of anyone who votes.

Boris could bring her Indyref2 arguments to a very quick close.

All he needs to do to succeed with this as with most of the things he’s looking at getting done is to consider the real questions that underpin them more deeply and then start doing politics a very different way.

If we want anything like normality back and the type of Government we deserve in this Country, we need a General Election where none of these MPs or the existing Political Parties can stand again

October 22, 2019 Leave a comment

Pretty much everyone is now awake to the reality that the MPs and the Politicians that we have in this Country will do anything they believe they can get away with.

Brexit was their opportunity to be different.

Instead they have used it as the beginning of their last stand.

What we can be sure of – now that Boris Johnson’s colours are tied to the mast and there for all to see – is there is simply no combined group of MPs in this Parliament today who are, as individuals, prepared to do whatever would be necessary – irrespective of risk or personal cost – to step up and do the right thing.

This is not how public or elected representatives should ever be.

With a Party System in place that now exists and operates in such a way that it has made entry to Parliament a closed shop for anyone who actually wants to represent other people in a meaningful way and with the integrity that is required, this Country is now facing a watershed moment that reflects on issues much deeper than the pantomime that is taking place in Westminster today – apparently just over Brexit.

This is now about our democracy, governance and how this Country is actually run.

The closed shop appearance of the system can easily lead anyone to believe that there is simply no way that the system can now be fixed.

The Politicians appear to have everything wrapped up and bolted shut in such a way that even The Brexit Party is just another caricature of a system that ensures that anyone elected to public office is destined to behave in exactly the same way as those who have gone before.

But it doesn’t have to be so.

Appearances can be deceiving. All it takes is for People to look at all of this, understand, accept and then to be brave enough to embrace the reality that there is a different way that won’t give us results that turn out to be just the same.

If we want Politicians who are ready and able to fix the problems that we have – whether it’s the climate crisis, housing crisis, poverty, the polarity of wealth, the failures of public services, our education system, Brexit and our relationship with the EU, or indeed our relationship with the rest of the world – we the People must be the ones who stand up, are brave and are ready to instigate and be that change.

The Politicians we have are the relics of this broken system. It is time for them to go.

To be the change that we want, need and deserve in the UK, these politicians need to be removed from their posts or at the very least be prevented from standing in an election ever again. And the Political Parties must be prevented from fielding any Candidates – as without change and reform of the Parties that monopolise the system and select them, these new politicians will surely be just the same when they have been elected as all those we have had before.

Just because there doesn’t appear to be a mechanism for this to happen doesn’t mean that it isn’t a situation that cannot or will not come.

If we do not open ourselves to the possibility of doing things a very different way and are not brave enough to take the risk necessary to be that difference too, we will only have ourselves to blame when this injustice simply continues on indefinitely whilst we all miss out in some way and some how end up getting the blame.

 

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.

Councillors’ Pay: Throwing money at more of the same just increases the odds of things going from bad to even worse

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment

If you feel at all cynical about politicians and their motives for seeking power, you are unlikely to have been left feeling refreshed by the latest row over councillors’ pay which has surfaced this morning. After all, one set of politicians laying out the stall to put more money into the pockets of another is hardly the story that anyone outside of politics wants to hear. But is the promise of higher pay for councillors really the only answer to better local government?

The motives for becoming a politician at any level are not what many would hope or perhaps expect. Whilst the pathway to becoming a member of a local authority may be based upon an entirely different set of aspirations from those who become MP’s, the biggest difference between the two is the full-time and fully remunerated nature of all the roles in Westminster which have propagated and supported the rise of the ‘career politician’.

As a Local Councillor myself, I can look back on my own political history to date and know that it was not money which motivated me to contest my first Borough Election in 2003 and come 5th for a 2-seat Ward. It was not looking good and being seen by others as having responsibility in a public role which drove me to take part in the County Elections of 2005 and experience a recount to finish in 3rd place for a 2-seat Division. But it was a belief in something better for all and the sense of providing a voice for those who choose not or are unable to do so for themselves that did push me to go out each time and then win my first Borough Seat in 2007. Sadly it is not the same for all too many others.

The reality of local government, whether you are Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP or Independent, is that it is a place of frustration for the well-intended. A place where the power to influence decision making in its greatest sense simply doesn’t exist – much in the same way that the handful of our better-intentioned MP’s will have discovered to their absolute horror when they first arrived in Parliament.

It is a cold hard fact that within any system of government where so many of the would-be decision makers have arrived on the basis of personal gain and advancement, it is that very same emotional buy-in which propelled them there that prevents them and others from doing anything truly selfless when it has even the slightest risk of making those selfishly-based positions any less secure.

Such fear has propagated the growth of an insidious culture within local government where officers are often left leading the leaders with their own protectionist based views which put jobs, conditions and the limitation of all risks above any decision which actually may be the right one for the Taxpayers who fund them. It is a pathway which over many years has led to the unsustainable cost of direct services that should never have even been put at risk; coupled to a future which above all else is inextricably linked to such wonders as the bottomless pit which is the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Increasing councillors ‘pay’ to ‘realistic levels’, will only encourage more of those with the same self-interest to step forward and to then fight even harder to protect their own interests once elected. Part-time career politicians would quickly become as prevalent throughout the lower tiers of government as their full time counterparts are at Westminster, and it is the very term ‘career’ which in this sense says so very much about what is wrong with politics and where the true motives of many politicians lie today.

Reform at all levels of government should be an absolute priority, but should not be restricted to executive, administrative or technical functions.

The political party system is also failing people as much locally as it is nationally and throwing money at more of the same just increases the odds of things going from bad to even worse.

Effect-focussed Government has failed us all. Can we really move forward with a plan of something better for all if we never address the causes of our problems?

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Leaps in utility prices touch just about everyone’s lives either directly or indirectly. No less so because of the growing paradox which appears to be a guaranteed bottom line for shareholders, whilst customers continually carry the can for everything that any non-essential business would have no option but to absorb within what are today’s unalterable margins.

Public services such as Trains run under much the same guise, and the question really should be asked if the time has come when any provider of a key or essential service should remain able to have a free reign over charges and their levels of profit when the end user simply has no choice but to buy?

Similarly, margins drawn from the production and retail of essential basic items such as milk, bread, meats and vegetables must surely now be protected from City speculation and the stranglehold of the big retailers who are together endangering various food producing industries in what is little more than an obligation to sustain and build upon profits, laid down by the purely financial motives of their masters.

So what exactly is stopping the long needed change in direction which would embrace a true form of moral or rather responsible capitalism, which in its boldest form would serve to protect a basic and affordable living for all, whilst delivering an arguably much reduced cost for Government?

One of the key failings of many of today’s politicians is a fundamental lack of understanding, will and fortitude to deal with the deep rooted causes of the problems that we as a nation face; instead choosing to do little more than dalliance in dealing with the effects of bad or flawed decisions, then going on to repeat the very same mistakes when that latest remedy itself begins to demonstrate its flaws.

Be under no illusion, this process is not unique to any political genre or ideology. It is a deep seated and inherently progressive condition, made all the worse by a political party system which now serves only to propagate itself and those within it who effectively function to do the very same, placing electability before delivery.

Successive Governments, whether they have been Conservative, Labour or even Coalitions have done the very same things, albeit with a different wrapper. But with little more than a ‘fire and forget’ mentality, the consequences are plain to see and there for us all to share and experience in our everyday lives.

The commonalities within privatisation, right-to-buy, the evolution of the free market and even political parties themselves are that they were arguably all political creations with a great and beneficial purpose in mind for those who were the driving forces behind them.

However, like most great ideas in Government that come to be manifest, they have progressively moved beyond their point of balance or what some might choose to call good, and have gone in another direction entirely. One which has benefited the unscrupulous and cost those of us dearly who have the right to expect the protection of our everyday interests by those who we put in place to take that responsibility on our behalf to do so.

Acceptance that the evolution of policies can and will continue beyond their point of good is no enviable task. This is particularly so when many organisations, NGO’s and even Government Departments have been created simply to deliver upon questionable policies and their lucrative spin-offs. In many cases they arguably continue to exist for the sole purpose of existing.

Trades Unions, Health & Safety Legislation and European red-tape are all examples of well-intentioned principles which have gone way beyond their point of good. Even UK Taxation and Benefits no longer represent the equitable and fair approach that we should all be able to reasonably expect from a 21st Century Western Government and the implementation of truly fair systems such as Flat Tax are long since overdue.

Fear of driving the watershed of change needed in an age where we have laws for the sake of having laws; where blame is a national industry and where everyday people feel that Government of all levels has no understanding of the lives that they lead, is no longer excuse enough in itself to avoid it.

Painful as it will be, somebody will soon have to be big enough to take on big business, the City and the insidious money men who are continuously elevating the breadline, all in the name of profit.

Selfless politicians must set about the change of policy after policy which may well serve their political masters today, but remain lifetimes away from serving those for whose benefit they were apparently intended.

Effect-focussed Government has failed us all and not least the most vulnerable in society and shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted does little to help after the event.

Can we really move forward with a plan of something better for all if we never address the causes of our problems?

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