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A New Politics

A New Politics

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Published by paulo_coimbra
A new politics: How would you reform Westminster? - The Guardian debate.
A new politics: How would you reform Westminster? - The Guardian debate.

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The Guardian | Thursday 21 May 2009
1
Towards a blueprint for reforming government
T
hese are exceptional times. Youhave to go back to the days beforethe 1832 reform act, to the “oldcorruption” with its vote-buying,electoral intimidation and rotten boroughs, to find an era in whichthe British way of politics was as widely discred-ited and in need of reform as it is today. Two cen-turies ago, the answer to the scandals seemedplain – systemic reform and, though it was 100 years coming, votes for all. Today, faced withan alarmingly comparable collapse of esteemfor politics under the democratic system, theanswer to the new corruption is the same as it was to the old: systemic political reform and amodern, reinvigorated, devolved democracy. Amid the continuing torrent of jaw-droppingexpenses revelations, it is hard to comprehendhow so many apparently decent MPs could eachhave set aside their capacity for moral judgmentabout their own actions. Even so, the expensescrisis is not simply a set of personal failings andtransgressions, occasionally exaggerated. Thatis why it is not enough to call for heads to roll.The deeper problem is systemic. It is rooted inthe whole way we do our politics. A general elec-tion is certainly not irrelevant to addressing thatproblem; but it is not a fundamental solutioneither. In the end, we need a new politics morethan we need a new government.The mood of anger is understandable. Moodsof anger often are. But they are rarely good guidesto wise action. That is why it is far more impor-tant to focus on what should be built rather thanon what should be destroyed. The White Housechief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, observed last year that one should “never want a serious cri-sis to go to waste”. A crisis is not just an occa-sion for blame and punishment. It is also, as MrEmmanuel added, “an opportunity to do things you could not do before”.That insight has been powerfully borne out bythe expenses crisis. Agendas that for years hadseemed trapped on the political margins havesuddenly been swept into the mainstream andhave captured the public mood. Radical pruningof MPs’ allowances. An end to parliamentary self-regulation. All-party agreement in advance toaccept Sir Christopher Kelly’s report. A Speakerdriven from office for the first time since the17th century. Party leaders calling on local par-ties to purge errant MPs. Approving referencesto Oliver Cromwell. Genuine all-party agreementon reform. None of these things happened beforethe publication of MPs’ expenses. All of themhave happened since.The reform agenda can go much further. Itmust now do so. Fixing the expenses system isnot enough. The reformers who urged the case forradical reform of MPs’ finances have also earnedthe right to have the rest of their menu of politi-cal reform taken more seriously and urgently.The reactionaries who opposed change, oftenon the grounds that these are not “real” issuesof interest to “real” people should have learnedthat reality bites hard and that reform is not a sideissue. Nick Clegg yesterday called this a once-in-a-generation moment to change politics for good.He was spot on.Today, Guardian and Observer writers mapout some of the possible moves. They range fromthe composition of select committees throughreform of the House of Lords to the role of thepress. Online debate on the ideas is already vig-orous. Some proposals are systemic; others aremore focused. Some, such as Lords reform, wouldtake some time to implement; others, such asreform of the role of the attorney general, could be made today. Most require all-party agreement, while some could properly be initiated by thegovernment alone. All of them are urgent.
P
ublic life matters. It should be ahigh calling, not a base one. Gor-don Brown often speaks for the better angels of politics, but hepresides over an unprecedentedpandemonium of its fallen ones.His handling of the expenses crisis has often been clumsy. This week, however, largely because he listened to others and learned fromhis mistakes, he finds himself in the right placeon these issues at last. He must now go much fur-ther on the equally imperative reform agenda.He has the means, motive and opportunity tohelp shape the new politics that modern Brit-ain, so different a country from the Britain thatspawned our broken parties and our discreditedinstitutions, craves. It took the founding fathersof the United States four months to agree theirconstitution. Mr Brown has longer than that. Hehas a year in which to cement his place in historyas a great political reformer or as a great politicalfailure. These are exceptional times. And this isan exceptional opportunity.
TYPOGRAPHY: KITCHING/STOTHARD THE TYPOGRAPHY WORKSHOP 2009
 
2
The Guardian | Thursday 21 May 2009
Written constitution
The great goal
TimothyGarton Ash
We need a written constitution. That isthe largest conclusion we should drawfrom a crisis that is also an opportunity.Our legislature has compromised itself.Our executive has long been over-mighty.Our judiciary remains largely credible, butits independence needs to be reinforced.In 10 years’ time, I wish to walk roundWestminster and show a visitor three greatuildings housing three separate powers of a renewed democracy. Every schoolchildshould know what each does, by whatexplicit rules, and how they relate to eachother. And how our individual rights andliberties are secured within this constitu-tion. Nothing less will do.This need not be a revolution. Most ele-ments of a constitution are there already.Unlike many countries after wars or dic-tatorships, we won’t have to rebuild fromrubble. Many British institutions functionwell, and even many aspects of our parlia-ment. We should beware the hyperbole of crisis. But we do need to put together theseelements as we never have before, add afew, reform some, and make the wholething explicit, clear and transparent.The question is how we go about this.We will need a government ready to pro-pose to parliament a new great reform bill.We must build a constitution by constitu-tional means. But before we reach thatpoint, we need a great debate. That canstart right now, and right here.
Local government
Restore power andaccountability
SimonJenkins
 At the root of this scandal has been atransformation in the role of a member of parliament: MPs have become the leadingcitizens of their municipalities. They arethe first port of call for citizen complaints.Their surgeries deal almost entirely withlocal matters requiring complex nego-tiation with councils and agencies. Theyhave become what in any other Europeandemocracy would be the local mayor, the best-known elected person in town.The result has been a steadily moreshrill demand for them to “live in theconstituency”, unheard of 50 years ago.The erosion of localism has sucked MPsinto the vacuum, and they are now payingthe price. An MP’s job is hopelessly con-fused, as a party hack in London and asa prominent civic leader back home. Theconsequence is two homes, two lives, twoexpenses rackets and misery.This will only stop when locally electedoffi cials – I am convinced this means may-ors as in most other countries – are intro-duced to relieve MPs of their local dutiesand thus of some of their pre-eminence.Their present agony is entirely the resultof their resistance to local democracy.Political Britain needs a whole new castlist of local mayors, governors, parochialand municipal leaders to return status andpolitical accountability to the local level.
House of Lords
We must be able tochoose our rulers
JonathanFreedland
 You would think it was a sine qua non of ademocracy that those who write the laws of the land would be chosen by its people .Imagine if MPs were not elected butemerged through some other cloudy proc-ess – because they were one of 92 peoplewith aristocratic blood, one of 26 bishopsaffi liated with the state-approved versionof Christianity, or picked by the primeminister.If anyone suggested that be the process by which we pick members of the Britishlegislature there would be howls of laugh-ter and outrage. It would be an affront todemocracy. Yet, that is how one half of ourlegislature is chosen. The House of Lords isoften presented as some ceremonial bodyof sleeping old gents who add to the dig-nity of national life. But the upper houseshares in the writing of our laws.The principle – that, in a democracy,the people elect those who govern them– should trump all others. Electing mem- bers of the second chamber creates com-plications in our constitutional set-up(wouldn’t an elected “Lords” threaten theprimacy of the Commons?) have held backreform for at least a century.It is not impossible to devise an electionmethod that would preserve what peopleadmire, ensuring the new second chamberdoes not comprise party hacks, and still hasaccess to the wisdom of elders. But whatcomes first in a democracy is the right toelect – and remove – those who govern us. Itis long past time that we demanded it.
The monarchy
 A corrosive symbol
GaryYounge
 Thanks to hanging chads and the supremecourt, the left could poke fun at the credi-ility of George Bush’s first term. But whenit comes to Britain, there can really be nodebate about the democratic credentialsof our head of state. She has none.For all the fetishisation of modernity,there is one glaring omission – the abo-lition of the monarchy. Power has beendevolved to Scotland and Wales; therewill soon be a supreme court. But whenit comes to the little things like declaringwar, dissolving parliament and ratifyingtreaties, all power lies with the monarch.Those who insist the role is merelysymbolic miss the point. It symbolisessomething extremely corrosive in ourhistory and culture: that your life chancesare determined not by what you can do,ut to whom you were born. Moreover,it enshrines the notion that power can beunaccountable.The tendency to point out the personaldeficiencies of the nation’s first family isunderstandable, but flawed. “Kings wereput to death long before 21 January 1793,”wrote Albert Camus, referring to LouisXVI’s execution. “But regicides of earliertimes … were interested in attacking theperson, not the principle, of the king.The issue is not the individuals but theinstitution, not personalities but politics.A call to remove the Queen’s constitu-tional powers may well attract broad sup-port, leaving the ceremonial and symbolicand little else. That would be a start.
The Speaker
Redefine every partof the role
JackieAshley
If MPs, the press and the public are agreedon one thing, it’s that the new Speakershould be a reformer. That means a changein each and every aspect of the Speaker’srole. It’s already clear that the new Speakerwill not be in charge of MPs’ pay andexpenses. Within hours of Michael Martinannouncing his decision to quit, the primeminister made it clear that an independ-ent commission will take over the day today administration of the Commons.The Speaker’s main role will continueto be chairing debates and keeping order.But he must do much more that: draggingparliament into the 21st century, he shouldensure that procedures and debates arecomprehensible to all, inside and outsidethe chamber. No more “remaining orders”that no one understands.He would do well to put a total stop toall that yah-booing, too. For years it hasput the public off Westminster – not sur-prisingly. The new Speaker can also takea leaf from the Lord Speaker’s book. Since2006, Lady Hayman, as Speaker of theLords, has made it clear that her job is toact as an ambassador for the Lords, with afull programme of speeches, conferences,outreach events, charity work, engage-ment with young people and foreign visi-tors. Now, more than ever, the House of Commons needs an ambassador.
Electoral reform
Our system is bust
JohnHarris
Above all others, there is one institutionalwrong that sits underneath the sicknessof our politics. It enables governmentsto claim thumping mandates while theyattract the support of a small minority,thereby facilitating rule-by-clique. It resultsin focusing on marginal seats and scythingout whole swaths of voters, from residentsof the old Labour heartlands to suburbanmiddle-class liberals – and, truth be told,rightwing Tories. It has led to too many“safe” seats, creating the climate in whichMPs stretched or broke the rules, with littlethought of their constituencies.Self-evidently, our first-past-the-postmodel is as busted as the allowances sys-tem, and now is the time for a new elec-toral settlement. I’d settle for a version of alternative vote plus ( but with the propor-tional “top-up” share of MPs bigger) or theadditional member system of the Scottishparliament, and the assemblies in Londonand Wales, but the practice of closed partylists should be binned.Although David Cameron has mademost of the recent running on politicalreform and a quick general election, theTories’ likely success would be based onthe usual grim mathematics – a big Com-mons majority on a minority of the vote,and all the dysfunction that implies – butgiven that change would tear up so manyof their standard calculations, will either of the main parties listen?
Parliamentary protocol
Earth callingPlanet Westminster
HughMuir
Who, designing a representative body forthe 21st century, would start from here?Who would allow the House of Com-mons to be run by the Speaker as we knowthe role, the candidate of least resistance,
Democracy
Reorchestrating thesecond chamber
WillHutton
Democracy is a process and an attitude of mind. It understands that the to-and-froof argument is the best way communitiesfeel their way to good decisions and goodlaw. It holds executive power to accountday by day for its actions, and periodicallythrough elections. It protects liberty.British democracy falls short of theseaspirations in many ways. It is a two-cham- ber system that may genuflect to the role of deliberation and argument, but the Houseof Commons is ruthlessly controlled by theexecutive while the Lords is a useful revis-using the same principle under which weorganise the refereeing of football? Whowould have Black Rod, with his tights andmace? Would anyone bother with that blather about “honourable” and “righthonourable gentlemen”?If it didn’t seem ridiculous before,it certainly does now. Why go on withthose interminable maiden speeches?The pat questions to ministers planted by the whips? The ritual investigation of the prime minister on his engagements?This is a body barely recognisable to mostpeople: Planet Westminster.There is a modernisation of the houseselect committee system under way – proof that the wheels turn slowly. Our courts canhardly be held up as an example but theyhave recognised that arcane practices andlanguage can cut ordinary people off . Haveour courts been rendered less effective bythe shift away from wigs and gowns, or byallowing solicitors directly to represent cli-ents? People will leave court unhappy, butfew complain they didn’t understand it.Let the honourable member for Black- burn become plain Mr Straw, let theSpeaker be independent of the partiesand let’s have members of both housesdiscussing the issues inside parliamentin the terms they might use outside it. Asfor Black Rod and those tights – what a giftto cabaret.ing chamber, but essentially a democraticcipher. That must change. The British will always site the govern-ment of the day in the Commons. As aresult, its capacity to revise, deliberate andargue will always be weak. The role mustfall to the House of Lords. Its standing must be raised to become the co-determiner of British law. The Commons must lose itspower always to trump the Lords. That will require that the Lords is com-posed through democratic mandate. Butto avoid relative party strengths predeter-mining outcomes so that it becomes a meresimulacrum of the Commons, there need to be substantive innovations. The first is thata critical mass of Lords – say, a third – must be elected as independent crossbenchersso that the government must win assent forits legislation through force of argumentand not political arm-twisting. The second is that each nation andregion of the UK must be represented, solarger interests are considered. The thirdis that its select and working committeesshould be able to co-opt external experts asmembers. Britain would then have a 21st-century democratic chamber of which itcould be proud.
 
MP numbers
Slash the head-count to 400
PollyToynbee
 In the sea of faces on the green benches,how many of those 647 MPs can you rec-ognise? Most will never be ministers. Wehave so many, they say, because of thesacred link between MP and constituency,one to roughly every 60,000 voters. Butthat mystical bond is mostly the wishful
Here, Guardian and Observer writers launch a majordebate on renewing Britishpolitics. With your help, wehope to build a blueprint forreform. Join the discussionon each of these topics atguardian.co.uk/anewpoliticsand tell us what we’ve missed.We’ll keep you informedof progress
 
The Guardian | Thursday 21 May 2009
3
MPs’ pay
Boost salaries andabolish allowances
JenniRussell
It’s not a popular moment to suggest sucha thing, but MPs’ headline salary should beraised and allowances cut. There’s nothinghonest about the current system, in whichmost MPs treat second home allowancesas an integral part of salary, in effect rais-ing their income to £104,000 before tax.The danger is that representing peoplein parliament will now look so tarnishedthat talented potential candidates will be put off – being an MP should attractpeople of the same calibre as those whowork at high levels in public service: sen-ior civil servants, judges, headteachersof large schools. Consider this: the civilservant who ran the fees offi ce was earn-ing £125,000 a year, nearly twice as muchas the MPs whose expenses he oversaw.The heads of large London schools get£107,000. Judges and senior doctors getmore than £100,000 a year.If we pretend that pay shouldn’t matterto MPs, we’ll end up with a high propor-tion of low-calibre candidates, or thosewho have suffi cient private incomes notto care. Don’t forget that Lloyd Georgeintroduced payments for MPs in 1911 pre-cisely so that the pool of politicians couldextend beyond the privileged class.Let us be brave now. Remove the secondhome allowance, and make offi ce travel astransparent as it is in any company. LinkMPs’ pay to those of civil servants’ grades,or those of judges, and fix them some-where in the region of £85,000-95,000 ayear. Take that issue out of the politicalrealm – and free us from the demeaningspectacle of MPs arguing that bathplugs,antique rugs and £8,000 TV sets are a nec-essary requirement for doing their jobs.
The executive
Let MPs reclaimcontrol in the house
MartinKettle
Parliament exists to sustain a govern-ment by passing its bills and approving itsactions. But it also exists to hold a govern-ment and its ministers to account. Modernparliaments have been infinitely better atthe former than the latter – think of Iraq,think of some anti-terror laws, and think,in particular, about the needless prolifera-tion of laws and regulations.MPs need to stop being sheep and start being watchdogs. The rest of us, the mediain particular, need to assist them. Parliament should draw up its own bill of parliamentary rights to control theexecutive. It should limit the power of the prime minister to alter Whitehall. Itcould restrict the number of ministers.Select committees could sit many moredays and ministers could be required toaccount them more regularly.MPs should reclaim control of parlia-mentary business, giving the Speaker moreroutine power to set the Commons agenda.MPs should remove the government’spatronage over who sits on and chairscommittees. In the end, we should go thewhole hog and move towards a more com-plete separation, along US lines, in whichMPs are no longer ministers. That wouldremove a lot of the current conflicts. A change of political culture is needed,too. Everybody knows ministers and MPshave differing views on most issues. So bemore grown-up about allowing those viewsto be heard in public. Why not modify thedoctrine of collective responsibility so thatministers and MPs can speak their mindsmore freely without losing their posts?The current system stifles debate andpublic engagement. A new system wouldthrow the windows open.
Party whips
 A devilish discipline
DavidHencke
The whips are essential to the running of an effi cient political process in the sensethat elected governments need to pushpolicies through parliament. However,they have too much power and too muchsay over what happens to MPs.Whips have myriad ways of takingrevenge on or rewarding people. An accom-modation whip, for example, can decidewhich MP gets what room – a suite for thehelpfully toadying member or a hole-in-the-corner offi ce for a troublemaker. Thoughnot the root of the current malaise, thepower of the whip – unrecognised as a par-liamentary post – rules supreme, inhibitsdemocracy and encourages a herd instinctand mindlessly partisan behaviour.A major reform is essential to bring back meaningful debate to parliament. Atpresent, both government and oppositionchief whips – who, incidentally, receiveadditional salaries from the taxpayer – arecreatures of the political party. They havea stranglehold over the committee systemin the House of Commons – influencingwho sits on committees and having somesay over who becomes chairman. They arealso good at arm-twisting MPs to followthe party leader on motions, which meansdebates in the Commons – as opposed tothe Lords, where there are more cross- benchers – are often stilted events, wherereal issues are ignored.Those perks that presently lie withinthe gift of the whips’ offi ce – rooms, travel,committee places – should be apportioned by an independent parliamentary body,not by party apparatchiks. Party disciplineshould be enforced by appeal and persua-sion, rather than by patronage and thegranting or withholding of favours.
Representation
The House shouldreflect those it serves
MadeleineBunting
We need a House of Commons that reflectsthe people it is designated to represent andserve. Voters need to see in this institutiona closer reflection of themselves, insteadof the anachronisms of a macho, predomi-nantly white culture that still owes manyof its characteristics to the English tradi-tions of public school and Oxbridge.We need many more women in theplace and a much wider variety of back-grounds. It’s not that they will be made of  better moral fibre, but that such an influxwill disrupt the cosy, self-referentialismthat has done so much damage.All parties should sign up to a quota forfemale candidates – it could be for a lim-ited period of, say, 10 years. Over the past25 years, Norway, Sweden and Denmarkhave all achieved high representation of women through quotas of 40% on candi-date lists.The UK parliament is currently 58th outof 187 democratic countries in the worldfor its meagre 18% female representationin the Commons. Only quotas will bringthe big breakthrough. Alongside morewomen, concerted action is needed toimprove the paltry 2.1% of MPs from eth-nic minorities – just 15. All-black shortlistsin key areas is the kind of measure thatcould crack this long-running issue.
Direct democracy
Use the jury systemas a model
JulianGlover
 Bill Clinton put it most snappily: “If youwant to change the world,” he said, “joina focus group.” He had something in com-mon with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whocommented: “The people of Englandthink they are free. They are gravely mis-taken. They are free only during the elec-tion of members of parliament.”Both were getting at the same thing:the people are asked to pick other peopleto take decisions for them. While theirchoice – Britain’s parliament – implodesunder the strain of the expenses scandal,the public can only watch and howl.Constitutionalists propose all sortsof fixes: proportional representation;devolved assemblies; an elected Lords; asmaller parliament or a bigger one. But inevery case they still ask voters to choosesomeone else to do the governing. Think of that revered constitutionallinchpin, the jury system. We are happyfor randomly picked, untrained membersof the public to weigh the evidence and the
MPs’ pay
Link to averageearnings
AdityaChakrabortty
 Easily the most galling aspect of theexpenses debacle is the way MPs defendtheir abuse. Our politicians really meanit when they say these outlandish claimswere only to top up inadequate wages.Hang on, MPs not paid properly? The£64,766 salary puts them comfortablyinto the top 5% of all single earners. Themedian salary in the UK is £25,100; takeinto account pensioners and others livingoff benefits, and the average person liveson less than £16,000.As for parliamentary pay lagging behindother industries, that is a canard. MPs’ payrises between 1990 and the end of 2006 faroutstripped increases in inflation, averageearnings and public-sector pay. If parlia-mentarians want to claim, as the late TonyBanks did, that they are “a sort of high-powered social worker”, they should notethat a social worker’s position in Camden(a borough that neighbours Westminster)is advertised on the Guardian’s jobs web-site for between £30,045 and £39,228. If MPs complain about constituencywork, they should be given more case-workers. If the Westminster working dayis antisocial), then it should be changed, by shortening recesses. True, the life of an elected representative is an uncertainone, but that is compensated for by one of those increasingly rare creatures, a gener-ous final-salary pension scheme.A pay regime for parliamentariansshould reflect the work carried out, and be democratically justifiable. The solu-tion is to link MPs’ wages to average earn-ings. Put backbenchers on, say, two times
MPs’ hours
Shorten the holidays
AnnePerkins
 One of the better parliamentary reformsof the past 10 years has been changing thehours to reflect a normal working week,rather than the traditional arrangement of the day around 18th-century gentlemen’sclubs and society hostesses’ drawingrooms, slightly modified in the 20th cen-tury to allow lawyers to get in a day’s work before turning up in the late afternoon.The reforms (take a bow, Harriet Har-man) removed a hurdle for people withyoung families taking part in Westmin-ster politics, either as MPs or as offi cials, oreven journalists. Along with other reforms,of which easily the most important has been the dramatic – if still insuffi cient –increase in the number of women, thischange has slowly softened the culture of the place.But it came at a high cost. The changeto the working day removed probably themost powerful weapon an ordinary back- bencher had – the power to delay, some-times to derail, the government’s busi-ness. The balance is now heavily weightedagainst the ordinary backbencher and infavour of the executive. No longer coulda Michael Foot talk for hours in order topreventa half-baked plan for reform of theLords going through. In fact, half -bakedplans speed through nowadays, withministers often redrafting important bitsof legislation in the final stages. So muchfor better scrutiny. Don’t make MPs’ days longer. Cut theholidays, change procedure and give MPs back the chance to get right up the execu-tive’s nose.the average wage and increase their salaryin line with average earnings. That wouldremind politicians that their job is to repre-sent their constituents – and give them aninterest in improving the lot of voters.
Select committees
Backbenchers needto wrest control
MichaelWhite
 Congressional committees in Washing-ton have sweeping powers to tackle theexecutive. But the US constitution restson a separate executive, judiciary and leg-islature, whereas Britain’s remains inte-grated, a medieval legacy the Americansrejected in 1787.MPs are paid, of course, to representtheir constituents, to vet the government’slegislation and hold the government of theday to account. If necessary, they do that byturning off the tax revenues. Charles I even-tually discovered that hard fact when hetried to manage without them. The basicsof politics never change. But it needs a JohnPym or an Oliver Cromwell once in a whileto give the system a well-aimed kick.All models have problems, but parlia-ment’s select committees could benefitfrom the conviction among backbench-ers that being a committee chairman isat least as useful a public career as beinga junior minister in charge of paperclips.“Ministerialitis” is a curse. MPs have the power to summon wit-nesses – as they demonstrated with theerrant bankers – and issue severe reports.But committee membership is still con-trolled on all but rare occasions by theparty whips. Labour’s chief whip, NickBrown, explicitly argues that serial rebelsshould be denied a committee place. Torygovernments have removed troublemak-ers such as Nicholas Winterton.Reform will require backbenchers totake control of committee membershipand the appointment of chairmen awayfrom the party whips and hand it to theirown committee of selection.It’s small constitutional beer comparedwith sweeping proposals such as demandsfor proportional representation voting atWestminster, but modest changes oftenmatter more than dramatic ones. Thatcoupled with changing attitudes.
 
thinking of self-deluding MPs. Both thegood and the useless are swept in and outof offi ce on their party’s coat-tails. We needfewer, representing larger areas, to makethem more powerful national figures.If there were, say, 400, most would havea valuable role to play in party and parlia-ment. Their business should be governingthe country: too much time is spent nowas advocates for individual local cases onhousing, benefits and vast numbers of immigration pleas, often queue-jumpingexisting appeals and complaints proce-dures, to the aggravation of offi cials. Somecasework should go to councillors, if morepower is to be devolved. Good MPs say theyneed some casework, to see at first handwhere government departments are fail-ing, but the balance is out of kilter.A proportional representation system,such as the Jenkins plan, means groupingMPs together in clumps of six, in largerconstituencies, so that voters are repre-sented by someone they voted for. Nosystem is perfect, but fewer MPs groupedin larger constituencies would better rep-resent more people.argument, and imprison someone for life.It works. Why not for goverment, too?Gordon Brown did once talk of what hecalled citizen’s juries, but they turned outto be nothing more than state-funded partypolitical focus groups. A bad start, though,should not ruin a good idea. We could givesuch juries real power – if not to swing deci-sions, at least to contribute to them.In a democracy, ruling and being ruledshould be part of the same thing.
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