Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Party Political Sytems

The power of incumbency for MPs is huge. Labour MPs complain that Michael Ashcroft is funding the Conservatives target seat campaign. Tory candidates complain that Labour candidates are backed by unions. Pretty difficult for candidates from small parties without the heavyweight backing of either.

One Tory candidate quoted by Ian Dale at his blog said ‘recently MPs have £18,000 of taxpayer funds annually to "communicate" with the electorate (not forgetting the £10,000 bonus recently added), he or she also has £7,000 postal expenses and a fully staffed office also paid for by the taxpayer. My MP regularly writes letters to members of the public. So, with a £28,000 annual communications allowance, a huge postage allowance and trade union funds, Labour MPs have an automatic head start over any challenger. Support from Ashcroft and others to Conservative parliamentary candidates merely levels the playing field.’ Robert Halfon, Conservative candidate, Harlow

Have they forgotten that Tory MPs use the same tactics, as do Lib Dems? Its always harder against an incumbent. But the incumbent often has years of mistakes and mismanagement to justify and defend their poor record. That’s politics.

I was also thinking about the background of MPs, and if that explained why it is they are so disliked. Many MPs are barristers, and are used to arguing a case they don’t believe in. But I think people can often tell when someone isn’t speaking from their beliefs, but just saying what they’ve been told to say in order to get elected. In actors this skill is highly prized, but in Britian there haven’t been many actors turned politicians. Many Tories came from a background of running companies, which may make them more prepared for running departments; it gives them little in common with ordinary voters. Labour MPs have the reverse problem, more empathy with voters, little experience of management, leading to some disasters like the Dome, Wembley Stadium and the 2012 Olympics.

We need politicians from different backgrounds, the current lot do seem hopeless. So if you get upset with your MP, don’t just complain, think about replacing them. We need YOU to make this a better country, and a better world.

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