Wednesday 5 May 2010

The UK: I endorse democratic reform

How does your vote count?

For the very first time in a very long time, the elections in the United Kingdom have been gripping, everyone has been offering a message of change but the real change required has not received the airing required.

The parliamentary system in the UK makes politics very local rather than national, you vote for a representative of your constituency who happens to be a member of one of the established political parties and the party with the most representatives has its leader crowned the Prime Minister.

There are ways in which the party leader is the charismatic face of your local representative who might not even be local but parachuted in to represent the party to the people – there, if any of the contestants has a track record in that locality, it is possible that a political upset might arise.

Change from ideology

However, it appears voting intentions might have moved on from political fastidiousness and ideology, personalities might matter and policies are interesting but the force of mandate sometimes allows for legislation that we would never have wanted if we had the choice.

The economy, immigration and public services have been given all sorts of glosses and opinions but no one party seems to have all the answers that would really work for the national as a whole – we need a system that allows for the best people to be called into the service in these tough times regardless of party affiliation.

You have to be a member of parliament (MP) to be a minister of the crown and thereby you are accountable to the House of Commons, however, if you are not an MP, you have to be bumped up to the House of Lords and in some ways, you are beyond accountability to the elected chamber.

The choices are not people

For the first time, there is a possibility that two men younger than I am will take the reins of government, the likelihood is that David Cameron of the Conservative Party will be Prime Minister – after 5 years as Leader of the Opposition, he is hardly representative of change – but he will be a change from 13 years of Labour government.

Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats the usually third party was an absolutely fresh face especially after the Leaders’ debates and I think he won 2 of those three debates – what was refreshing was he addressed the questions, engaged the people and spoke sensibly. He had not become a sloganeering beacon of clich├ęd sound bites that seemed to sound profound but had no substance.

Gordon Brown comes with baggage, much from the way Labour was swept to power in 1997 through the economic prosperity to the crisis and humongous deficit that the UK now has. He does have experience of leadership that others do not have, but one wonders if he holds the keys to a greater future for the UK.

Democratic reform is what I want

I have no man to endorse of the ones we have to choose from but I endorse radical electoral reform – one that allows for votes to count both locally and nationally, one that moves us from the silos of political ideology to better considerations for all options that might be presented for the good of the people and one that is centred on progress that allows the unity of all talents as war cabinet with representatives of all major parties.

This electoral reform can only come from forcing cooperation between the parties by the strength of the numbers that they poll, their popular support rather than their number of MPs, for instance the Labour Party took a parliamentary majority with just about 35% of the vote in the last election.

That was hardly representative of the 65% that did not vote for the Labour Party but they have held power with an assumedly strong mandate for 5 full years.

Change comes with the Liberal Democrats

Honestly, a strong turnout for the Liberal Democrats holds the key to better electoral representation because it would force reform where we need it in representation, in purpose and in accountability; it is that once in a lifetime for the people to demand and get change in democratic reform.

The Conservatives and the Labour Party benefit disproportionately from the status quo without carrying the full resolve of the majority and the real intentions of the people, for once, a hung parliament might well force the agenda in the direction of what is good for the people at home and abroad and this is why I endorse democratic reform – by consequence it comes by giving the Liberal Democrats your vote.

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