Sunny today, and so I sat in a pub garden with a beer, and thought about the Labour and Conservative and Liberal parties, and what was to be done with them.
They’re supposed to represent us, but they don’t. They don’t give a damn about us (and I don’t just mean us smokers). The only thing they want from us is the little cross in the box which gives them another 5 years on the Westminster merry-go-round. Once they’ve got that, they can go back to fiddling their expenses or riding on the Brussels gravy train or snorting coke or whatever else they do.
It’s not even as if party conferences are about getting their message over to the ordinary people that they don’t give a damn about. They’re about getting themselves on television, where they can see themselves and hear themselves. Because TV is like a mirror for them, and when they switch on the box, they only ever see themselves. Politics has become narcissism.
And they probably actually do look at themselves on TV just like they look at themselves in their bedroom mirrors. And they wonder, “Do I look a bit too pink? Was that the right tie to wear? Is my bottom too big?” They may as well all be on Come Dancing or some TV talent show.
They’re all shallow and self-centred. And I think that, pretty soon now, they’re all going to be swept away.
Today I started wondering how to get some members of parliament who would, y’know, actually represent their constituents. Now wouldn’t that make a change?
I’m not sure there’s any need for a new political party to do this. I’m not sure there’s any need for a party at all. All that’s needed is someone – anyone – who will make a solemn public commitment to represent all his or her constituents. All of them, without exception. Men, women, white, black, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, etc, etc. And of course smokers and non-smokers and antismokers too. Yes, even antismokers.
For that’s what seems to me to be the primary role of a Member of Parliament: to represent the interests of their constituents. It shouldn’t be that of advancing some economic or political doctrine, whether of the Left or the Right or the Greens or the Reds. Or making a quick buck. Or helping friends or relatives.
But it seems to be pretty much the last thing anyone enters parliament to do these days.
I suppose that, the way I look at it, the role of an MP ought to be a bit like that of a local vicar or parish priest who keeps an eye on his flock, even the sinners in the pub. People don’t become vicars to get rich or powerful or famous. Or to get themselves on television. It’s a vocation. It’s a responsibility. It’s a burden.
So today I was thinking that I’d like to see local people band together, and put up the money to have one of them stand for that office, and for that person to make the solemn commitment. It wouldn’t really matter if they were left-wing or right-wing or Green in their private beliefs. The only thing that would matter would be the Promise.
And the Promise would be backed up by an undertaking, sworn under oath, that, should they be found wanting in care and consideration for their constituents, they would step down as MPs, and allow someone else to be elected in their place. There would be no breaking of the One Promise. They could snort all the coke they liked, and bed all the secretaries they liked, and drive the biggest shiny cars they liked – but if they broke the One Promise they made, to represent all of their constituents, they’d be out.
MPs like this would have to spend most of their time in their constituencies, meeting their constituents. They’d probably miss most votes in parliament.
It’s probably unrealistic. How do you represent smokers and antismokers? Or both sides of any dispute?
Anyway, today I was dreaming of a bunch of plain-speaking, down-to-earth, honest men and women who would make the One Promise.
If enough of them got into parliament, they would destroy the party system. Because all of them would always vote in the interest of their constituents, and not at the direction of a Prime Minister or a party whip.
It’s probably too much to ask, but today I felt that something like this is going to happen soon. Because, if my confidence in all the current political parties, with their posturing and posing leaders, has fallen to zero, then I feel sure that the rest of the electorate can’t be too far behind me. I just think they’ll lose confidence for different reasons than me. But they’ll probably feel the same sense of betrayal that I feel.
The British people have the means at their disposal to be rid of the present Westminster party political merry-go-round. Some day (and I suspect some day rather soon) they’re going to use it to elect people who actually represent them.