The One Promise

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.

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About Frank Davis

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13 Responses to The One Promise

  1. wobbler2012 says:

    It’s a long way away Frank before people start waking up, there are still thousands of zombies about. And if you want zombieness to the max check them out over in the USA, where people like Obamanation and Mittens Romney are treated as gods. I know we got it bad over here with dickheads at these Lib/Lab/Con conferences but until you see the Yanks you don’t realize just how bad it still is.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Im pulling the lever for Romney as its a better bet than Owebummer and his billions in grant money paying for smoking bans around the country.

  2. zobbitbrat says:

    What about Gary Johnson? Don’t know where he stands on smoking bans, but he sounds like a decent chap.

  3. nisakiman says:

    Many, many years ago I read a novel which I can’t remember the details of, but what stayed in my mind was that in this novel, the system of government was that the MPs would be selected at random from the population, and they had to serve a couple of years as an MP, after which they were replaced by another random person and debarred from any further political appointment, sort of along the lines of jury service. As a result, there was no left / right ideologies battling for ascendancy, just a parliament dealing with the problems of the day in a way that was best for the country. There was no glory in the position, it was just a citizen’s obligation that had to be fulfilled if called upon to do so.

    It struck me at the time as an eminently sensible approach to government. None of these attention-seekers jostling for a place at the top table, from where they can impose their ideology on the long-suffering populace. No hosing tax-payers money at useless vanity projects. No passing rafts of repressive legislation in an attempt to fortify their position at the top. No megalomaniacs backstabbing all and sundry in their climb up the greasy pole of power.

    It would make a refreshing change, and would probably work better than the current system.

    The House of Lords worked along similar lines until the class warriors under Blair vandalised it beyond recognition. The Lords back then just found themselves there by accident of birth. For the most part, they had no political axe to grind, and so gave themselves to the task in hand in a way that would be of most benefit to the country. It was an archaic system, but it worked, and worked well.

  4. Nisakiman, I’ve always held that view of the H of Lords. It’s a pretty good scheme. Choose at random from a population which on the whole has had a decent education and is wealthy enough so as not be corruptible.
    On a slightly similar note, many of the newspaper obituaries are of people who started work during WWII, when they were steered into jobs which, in other circumstances, they might have avoided, feeling they didn’t have the aptitude to do them, but were in fact very successful. A bit like picking MPs at random. Always best not to give power to anyone who wants it.

    • margo says:

      ‘wealthy enough so as not to be corruptible’? I don’t see any evidence that wealth prevents corruptibility.

  5. Junican says:

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if the total vote of the whole electorate were to fall dramatically. What would happen if, say, only 30% of the electorate voted in a general election? Of course, the politicians would say the the non-voters have disenfranchised themselves, but that is not the point. The point is that, which ever party had the majority, it would have only so 15% of the vote and would be governing without a mandate from the vast majority of the people. The government would, in effect, become a dictatorship by the few. The good news would be that they would be far easier to overthrow.

    The same effect could be achieved partially by people voting for fringe parties (but not as well as not voting at all). The critical thing then would be the diminution of the three co-conspirator parties, leading to their eventual disintegration. The big problem would likely be career politicians from the big three trying to get into the new parties. I think that UKIP had that problem for a while, but they kicked out the Tory infiltrators. I think that happened, but Pat Nurse would know better.

    I most certainly will not be voting for any of the big three next time – no way. No vote or a vote for a fringe party is not a wasted vote as the big three would have us believe. It is a declaration of ‘No Confidence’.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Of course, the politicians would say the the non-voters have disenfranchised themselves, but that is not the point. The point is that, which ever party had the majority, it would have only so 15% of the vote and would be governing without a mandate from the vast majority of the people. The government would, in effect, become a dictatorship by the few. The good news would be that they would be far easier to overthrow.

      I suspect that, if lots of people didn’t vote at all, the government would simply say that the non-voters were clearly quite happy with the present conditions, because if they weren’t they would have voted against them. i.e. failure to vote implies consent.

      That’s why I think that voting for somebody else – Anybody Else – is important: because it sends and unambiguous message of No Confidence. The only circumstance I wouldn’t vote at all is if the three main parties were the only ones on the ballot.

      It reminds me that, in the local elections round here a few months back, there were a lot of names on the ballot, and I ended up voting for the “Local Conservatives”, which I’d never heard of, but which I thought must be “local”. But afterwards I thought that maybe the “Local Conservatives” was just a slight re-branding of the Conservative Party. Like they’d maybe just as easily have called themselves the “Happy Conservatives” or the “Fun Conservatives” or the “All-singing All-dancing Conservatives.”

  6. c777 says:

    I get my chance in November ,the Corby by election.
    UKIP X
    Trouble is I think the Liebour anti smoker trash will get in,the last one Hope, was booted out for troughing, but the Conservative vote will be hammered by UKIP maybe even exceeded.
    This may trigger a rebellion amongst the more right wing libertarian MP’s in the Conservatives.
    Who knows,if everyone who voted Conservative last time switched to UKIP they might even pull it off.
    Conservatives may be tempted by a protest vote ,half the constituency is rural, usually goes Conservative the other half is Corby which is mostly Labour.
    But i’m not holding my breath.

  7. margo says:

    I’ve always wondered what would happen if nobody voted. (Does anyone know? Mind you, the politicians would vote for themselves, wouldn’t they, so it wouldn’t happen.) To me, not voting doesn’t imply consent; it implies that I don’t think anyone standing is worthy of my vote.

  8. garyk30 says:

    In America,winning politicians never have the vote of the majority of the people.

    They may have the majority of the people that voted; but, that is not the same.

    Only about 75% of the eligible voters are registered to vote(75 per 100)

    Only about 75%, at most, of the registered voters actually vote.
    75% of 75 = 56 people per 100

    Most of the winning presidents receive about 52% of the votes.

    52% of 56 = 29 votes out of 100 adults in the country.

    In America, a clear, overwhelming mandate amounts to just 29% of the adults.

  9. jaxthefirst says:

    I’ve often wondered how a candidate would do if they stood as an independent, but on the single promise that their constituents would dictate to them how they should vote in Parliament. If this MP set up a poll on their website outlining whichever item they were imminently due to vote on, giving the arguments for and against each option and then stating which way they’d like to vote, given the choice (so that voters could account for bias in the descriptions) and then any of their constituents who had registered could tell them which way they’d like them to vote. The MP would then be duty-bound to vote in line with the poll, even if he strongly disagreed with the results. These poll results would be publicly available once the vote was over, and if the MP in question had failed to vote according to his constituents’ wishes then he’d immediately have to stand down.

    Clearly there’d be some problems to iron out beforehand, such as making sure that people weren’t able to vote multiple times from the same e-mail or using the same password etc, but it would be a radical departure from the present system whereby people think – often wrongly – that they know how their MP will vote on various issues (because of the party they happen to be in), it would prevent MPs from making empty promises (because, if their voting behaviour was dictated by their constituents, they wouldn’t be able to promise anything except that they would do as they were told), it would shift the power back into the hands of the people, and it would also stop people’s endless moaning and groaning about MPs, because if everything went pear-shaped, they’d only have themselves to blame. It might even make some people sit up and take a bit of serious notice of what’s going on around them, rather than being endlessly obsessed with X-factor or the football or which celebrity is shagging which other celebrity.

    I’m sure that it would actually be much more complicated to set up than I’ve described it and there would be some big pitfalls to avoid, but I can’t help but think that now, in this Internet age, something along these lines must be do-able.

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