Image courtesy of shirt.woot
32% of the voters tiptoed into the voting booths to register the vote in yesterday’s Council elections. Of those cities that carried out a referendum, not one got the go ahead for an elected Mayor as I write this. When the issue of Proportional Representation came up last year, the UK population voted resoundingly for not changing the current voting system.
It would be easy to put this off as apathy. It’s often portrayed that young people today are not interested in politics and so they don’t bother to cast a vote – a betrayal of what our ancestors fought for. Maybe, just maybe, this isn’t apathy but a misinterpretation.
What the political parties campaign for is voters to support their manifesto. In a world where members of their own party don’t support the whole manifesto isn’t the right answer to abstain. A vote actually endorses the whole thing – there is no opt out clause. Maybe the “apathy” as actually a vote for no change. Political parties are all about change and reform and so maybe the political parties are the problem. What about banning political parties and treating the world of politics as a market economy. If each elected MP was 100% focussed on supporting their constituents and not their party we would feel more engaged with them. If we looked on each party as a company in the economy we wouldn’t allow them to collude with each other and “fix” policy the way political parties do. Maybe we should make them have to fight much harder to change things. Coalitions are criticised because they produce paralysis – it becomes very hard to push through policy. The real problem with coalitions is the party politics though – the block vote which always allows things to be vetoed.
Wouldn’t it be different if the local elections and the parliamentary elections were much more like election of School Governors. Each would write a short description of what they stood for as people without a trace of party influence – whoever would elect a politically motivated Governor? We could then choose the people we like to represent us.
So what about the major changes in policy? What about if each elected Government’s job was to execute the mandate we voted for? At each election we could have a ballot paper which had no more than 5 options in each major Departmental area – Education, Industry, Taxation etc along with an option of No Change. The new Government (made up of people we like) would execute the policy we voted for, deal with constituency issues far more and work together to produce the ballot paper options for the next election.
Today’s “disaffected voters” could then elect a person they liked and trusted and whose values they shared and also positively state they wanted no change in policy in any area of Government. This would vastly reduce the bureaucracy and associated cost and produce enormous stability and certainty. Populist knee-jerk reaction policies would be all but eliminated. Of course there would be an option to implement an emergency Government procedure in times of war but the new democracy would minimise the risk!