Sunday, 4 October 2009

Never mind the policies, what about the voters?


Everyone knows that the Conservatives will win the next General Election. The only question is the size of their majority. That is why the LibDems and Labour resorted to pretty desperate measures at their respective party conferences last month.

Both parties resorted to scare tactics: “Don’t vote for the Tories. If elected, they will do this that or the other.” But in the next breath they accused the Conservatives of not having any policies. Well make your mind up!

However, the reality is that you do not need to have policies to win an election. When Labour won their landslide victory in 1997, it was not because the public thought Tony Blair was the Messiah who would lead them to the promised land. It was simply because, after almost 18 years in power, the public were fed up with the Conservatives and wanted a change. John Major could have promised to abolish income tax – it would have made no difference.

The Conservatives will win the next election on the same basis – the public are simply sick and tired of this discredited, incompetent and sleazy Labour government and want them out .


In any event, what is the point of making policy announcements when the public no longer believe anything politicians say?

The Labour manifesto of 2001 stated: “We have no plans to introduce University top-up fees, and have legislated to prevent their introduction.” But once returned to power, Labour did indeed introduce top-up fees.

Their 2005 manifesto said: “The new Constitutional Treaty ensures the new Europe can work effectively… We will put it to the British people in a referendum.” During the run up to the election Gordon Brown said: “It's not as though this is being imposed on the country. People will have the chance to put their views.”

History will recall that the same Gordon Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty without giving us the promised referendum.

At the last election, Tony Blair promised to serve a full term and people voted on that basis, but all the while Gordon Brown was plotting behind his back to depose him.

In Barnet, the public voted for a Conservative council led by Brian Salinger but unbeknown to the electorate, disgraced councillor Brian Coleman had tabled a vote of no confidence in Cllr Salinger during the election campaign itself, which resulted in Mike Freer being installed as Supreme Leader, even though Salinger had delivered the best election result for the Tories for 16 years.

There were 216,717 registered voters in Barnet at the last election, yet we have a leader chosen by a mere 21 people.

At the last General Election, the Conservatives polled more votes in England than Labour, but Tory voters have been entirely disenfranchised by an electoral system that is no longer fit for purpose.

The public have grown weary of politicians who promise one thing and deliver another. Accordingly, there is a desperate need for electoral reform in the UK – at local level and national. Until we have a system where politicians are fully accountable to the public – for their words and deeds - then election manifestos are not worth the recycled paper they are printed on.

4 comments:

Rog T said...

David,

Are you proposing PR, you old Lib Dem !

DarkKnight said...

It's interesting that Brown is now seeking some form of electoral reform, but only when he finally realised he is going to lose the next election.

One likely consequence of changing the system would be that smaller parties (who are not really representative of the majority) would suddenly have much more influence than their numbers would justify, particularly through coalitions and general wheeler-dealing. The LibDems would obviously benefit - but so would extremist fringe parties like the BNP which would not be a good thing.

I think any move to lower the voting age should be resisted. If anything, it should be put UP to at least 35!

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Rog

I could sue you for calling me a LibDem!

I am not proposing PR - we have seen the problems PR has caused for Italy since the war and, as Dark Knight says, it also allows minority parties a disproportionate amount of power. Witness the Israeli parliament.

I am suggesting that we need to deal with the democratic deficit. Government and councils need to have their powers curbed. Too many important decisions are taken by unelected and unaccountable ‘officials’. We need to end the quangocracy.

If you hold a position of power, you must face an election to hold that position.

All councils must have elected Mayors to replace the unelected council leaders chosen by a select few from within the ruling party.

The public should have greater say in the selection of candidates. We should consider fixed term Parliaments and even the possibility of staggered elections so that, for example, 20% - 25% of the seats are contested each year. Or a power of recall.

There are many ways the democracy can be improved without going anywhere near PR.

danfhope said...

DCMD: I'd sue the "swivel eyed trot" myself. Shame you can't get an indemnity tho :)

I've been arguing for directly elected Mayor for Barnet for about 5 years now. We just need 9,998 odd to sign our petition to force the Council to hold a referendum. I'm up for some door to door knocking. I'd bet David Cameron and Boris would come and join us too if they lived here.

Also I'd want to see each Council seat represent ONE Councillor. Now the voters have little idea which if the three are responsible for anything. Who wants three people representing them, I want just one. If I don't like what that person thinks, I can move to get them deselected or vote for someone else.

I'm off now to sleep for a couple of hours to catch my train for my day in Manchester...