Friday, May 02, 2008

And the Election results are...

...of no surprise to anyone whose been conscious for the last month.

And yes as Tav (and I) predicted all the government party representatives are using this local election as reflection/vindication of their national policies.

Good old BBC Breakfast had Harriet Harman on (via link-up) and she talked about viewing the results as a 'need to listen to the people'. In fact she mentioned that twice in the first part of her reply which I think caused Susanna Reid to snap and come back with 'But some people might think you should have done that before the election'... marry me Susanna and bear my children :-) Heh what a wild idea, political parties listening to people at times other then elections.

Harriet then waffled on about the economic turn and the 10p rate and the effect that had; yeah just want to point out those are national policies not local policies. Again seriously is it any wonder that people might use the local elections to reflect national issues when both MPs and the media collude in conflating the two? I didn't vote the way I did because of the national policies of the party, I voted because I thought that, of the choices, this candidate was the person who best matched my opinions of what needs to be done locally.

Likewise every national interview that I've seen so far regarding the results have been conducted with party members who were not standing in this election in context it would be like popping over to the EU Parliament to interview the leaders of the voting blocs on what they made of our General Election and ignoring the British MPs themselves.

Maybe we can change the rules, maybe we can separate national and local parties? If you want to form a new party for local elections then no member can stand for that party nationally and vice versa. Oh sure you'd get the old IRA/Sinn Féin dichotomy that's understandable, but at least there would be a conscious effort to split the two political systems and a better chance that neither party would be seen to be kowtowing to their 'brother' party.

Thoughts, suggestions?


Tav said...

I have thought about 'brother' parties before. Since 1997 Labour have held 350+ seats whereas Conservative haven't broken the 200+ seats mark, yet since 1997 the Conservatives seem to do better than Labour at local government level. Added to the Conservative propaganda of their influence at local government it almost seemed like the split would occur naturally with Labour being the 'bigger brother' party!

The problem is that nobody knows exactly why people vote because it is such an obscure decision that the electorate has been asked the answer: who do you want to make decisions and elect positions for your government? - when all the time those decisions and positions should be the decision of the people in the first place. Oh yes, and if you can't decide or want more choice then you cannot state that fact and you will be counted as being apathetic.

I think the brother party idea is also difficult to draw the line. Even I found from canvassing that people still don’t understand that we have a county and district council, let alone a parish/town council. In this local district election some residents though the election was to elect someone to then elect the next parliamentary candidate! It's a real mess, not enough education on democracy and not enough referenda, all because those who should educate democracy and offer referenda benefit from the lack of it!

My suggestions: The electorate should have referenda on key decisions; residents should be able to call proposition referenda; and the electorate should elect key positions; and that's just for starters.

FlipC said...

Well my concept of 'brother' parties was a bow to the inevitable rather then a wish, it would be nicer if such parties were not tied together at all.

I'm not surprised the electorate are confused, as I said the media have been banging on about this as if it was a national election and their attention has still been dominated by the Democrat nomination process in the USA; it's enough to jumble anyone up.

Heh reminded of the "Four more years" chant for Tony Blair, odd as we have five year terms; if the hand-picked delegates at a Labour rally can't get it right what hope for anyone else?

I think some of the mess lies with the fact that the people have so little ability to interact with their 'leaders' - we get meetings starting just as some people get home from work and consultations held while they're at work.

If I want to physically look at planning documents at Duke House it's Mon-Fri 9-4:30, the Kiddy Customer Service Centre is Mon-Fri 8:30-5. For most people trying to take part in things cannot be an act of spontaneity, but has to be planned out and to be honest who can be arsed when they've so much else they could be doing?

Sure you've got the recent improvements on the internet, but it's a sad thing to say that it's still easier to search the DC and CC sites using Google then their own internal engines

So saying that, if you call for referenda on key decisions (careful or someone will ask if that includes your aunt's extension) it only works if the people have the ability and desire to discover the facts themselves.

I would hope, as I'm sure you do too, that being called in on such matters would encourage people to pay attention to local politics and enact changes that allows better access to information.

However a niggle occurs to me - imagine someone in say Worcestershire County Council proposed building a waste treatment centre on the old British Sugar site would everyone in the county have a vote on the matter? I mean the majority might think we need one and 'Hey it's nowhere near us'.

Perhaps it would be restricted to a locality such as only asking the residents of the two closest streets their opinions on building a food supermarket in the town next to them?

You could try working up the chain, but then you get something that really is needed for the area being bogged down in NIMBYism with everyone wanting 'it' somewhere else and voting against it in their local referendum.

Like so much in life there's no simple answers.