The Political Parties Are The Problem 32

I am feeling sickened by the deluge of petty greed exposed in MP’s expenses. It is like lifting a big damp stone and stepping back in revulsion at some of the multi-legged creatures squirming underneath.

Remember, these are largely the same MPs who took us into a disastrous illegal war, who fostered the climate of the Ponzi economc bubble and crash, and then voted to hand their constituents’ money to the bankers. These are the same MPs who have dismantled centuries old liberties and complacently overlooked the return of torture to our public policy.

All these things could only happen because of the degeneracy of a parliament stuffed on all sides with venal careerists and self-servers, with little or no genuine concern for the public good.

How did it happen? We get the MPs our political parties give us. The truth is that the MPs are not decided by the public, but by the party in selecting their candidate.

In 70% of British constituencies, the party selection procedure of just one party actually decides the MP, with a 95% certainty of rubber stamping by a tribal electorate. In nearly all the rest, only the chosen sons or daughters of two of the party mechanisms are offered as a realistic choice to the electorate.

It has taken the expenses scandal to bring home to the British people what should have been obvious from the appalling quality of government. The whole system is broke. The political parties simply are not producing candidates of anything like sufficient quality to sit in the Mother of Parliaments.

Anyone who thinks a simple switch from Labour to Tory will fix this, is a fool. What is needed is a bold initiative to seize the moment and break the hold of the corrupt parties on the political psychology of the nation.

A start would be a “Clean Hands” campaign to force the resignation of the most egregious crooks, and then run “Clean Hands” candidates in the by-elections. Political views would be less important than honesty, independence and good intentions. The campaign for resignations might proceed one MP at a time to concentrate resources, and combine legal and media pressure with street campaigning in the constituency.

We have to start somewhere and I suggest target number 1 should be Margaret Moran in Luton South, as a plainly indefensible case.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

32 thoughts on “The Political Parties Are The Problem

1 2
  • JimmyGiro


    And I would add that proportional representation is a false prophet, as this will give even more control to the party cabals.

    A parliamentary law should be passed to ensure that no MP has any affiliation with any other MP, upon pain of expulsion.

  • john ward

    Dear Craig

    Despite the often light-hearted nature of my site (and its frequent ironic incorrectness) I think this piece is as on the money (ouch) as any I’ve seen. We need to break the oligarchy and change the voting system in order to have politicians who represent US – rather than themselves – or who think token ‘representativism’ is in any way a replacement for true democracy.

    Keep it up, and if you want to be mail-listed for nby,let me know.



  • anticant

    Can’t disagree with any of the above, ecept that the ‘pure’ form of proportional representation (Single Transferable Vote) would give Independents a much better chance.

  • Kerry Murdock

    I’ve almost finished reading Murder in Samarkand. It’s just so depressing – as is the whole MP expenses/corruption/theiving bastard thing…

    The fact that you can offer any suggestions to go forward in this treacle of corruption is impressive.

    Couldn’t you stand as an MP again?

  • David McKelvie

    I don’t think that quality candidates are not coming forward, it’s just that they’re not being selected by the Parties. For example, the Conservative Party used to make a big thing that it was the local Associations that chose the candidate for the local constitutency. Then Central Office introduced the central list of candidates and obscene pressure was put on Associations to choose from the “approved” list. Then after 1997/2000 ONLY candidates from the Approved List can be chosen, and latterly only those candidates on that list who’ve been given an “a” rating will stand a chance – and ALL other candidates have to work to get them elected , even if the other candidate agaisnt the trend stands a good chance for one local reason or another of winning – he/she must sacrifice him/herself to get the Officially Chosen Bludger in to Westminster. So a corrupt rotten borough culture has been engendered from the Centre. Internal reform of the Parties is possible, but only if there’s the will and that requires the right leadership. How did “Call Me Dave” become Leader when just about every Tory voted for DD?

  • mary

    Moran has just been on the Politics Show where the full interview with her will air later on the East Region part of the programme. Much hand waving and protestation, even threats of taking the Torygraph to court. She is well bronzed (the result of a recent visit to the Spanish property perhaps) and has no shame. She claims she needs a family life and because her partner works in Southampton, she think she is perfectly within the law to have made her claim for the dry rot treatment on the Southampton house.

    Her Wikipedia page is illuminating.

    Every word of Craig’s second paragraph is spot on. Moran or course was one of the Babes who brought Bliar to power and who voted for his criminal policies.

    Moran’s voting record is here –

    How Margaret Moran voted on key issues since 2001:

  • mrjohn

    In this day and age why is it necessary to have MPs elected from geographical regions ?

  • mrjohn

    In this day and age why is it necessary to have MPs elected from geographical regions ?

  • Strategist

    I don’t disagree with Craig’s take on this, except perhaps just to pause to question why this is THE issue to provoke so much anger. At the end of the day this is “petty greed” as Craig calls it.

    The grand larceny of the banking bailout (Craig’s “[voting] to hand their constituents’ money to the bankers”) involves sums of taxpayers’ money tens or hundreds of thousands of times greater than MPs’ expenses, but goes entirely unexamined by fearless Fleet Street.

    I’m not defending New Labour, God forbid, but when we are so enthusiastically being led in a direction by the Daily Telegraph it is probably wise to stop to question their motives.

    The objective of the exercise for the Telegraph is to make sure that the Tories are elected with a landslide, thus condemning us to another term or two of parliament as part of the “dignified” rather than functional parts of our constitution.

    Craig says “anyone who thinks a simple switch from Labour to Tory will fix this, is a fool” but it appears that this is indeed what the English will make happen, despite all the evidence that this will just lead to MPs’ expenses being used to subsidise grander aristocratic Tory rather than petty bourgeois NuLab lifestyles.

    I’d back a “clean hands” campaign but it must shine the spotlight on the vast wealth creamed off and piled up by the City and corporate crooks over the last decade.

  • Mae

    Yes, Prime Minister – Power to the People.

    Said it three times but it is the party system that stinks.

    Oh! and Congratulations Craig.

  • Craig

    Martin Bell actually would be an important leader if anything comes of it. Bell chose a constituency with an educated an comparatively wealthy electorate. I learnt in Blackburn that there is no point in trying to mae an intellectual point in a constituency which doesn’t have a single bookshop.

  • The Fatsnacker

    Well we the data held by the telecoms compaines, which should be able to track where there were when they were claiming their second home expenses shouldn’t we.

    see there was a reason to have the telecoms companies retain this information.

  • Strategist

    I agree Martin Bell would have a huge resonance and could be central to a new anti-sleaze or clean hands electoral challenge

  • Mentalogirl

    What about the Georgia Golds of this world??

    About Blears and all:I never thought I’d post this,but I think that the argument “it’s all within the rules so it’s OK” whilst at the same time knowing that what you’re doing is essentially milking the taxpayer is what most human beings would do,given half a chance.

    I’d never defend these people.It’s just that at some point this has become a bit of a witch hunt.Cast the first stone if you have never been dishonest with others.

    (yes I do think the system has to change and these people need to resign/give the money back/apologize over this)

  • lwtc247

    @ David McKelvie

    “So a corrupt rotten borough culture has been engendered from the Centre.” – that reminds me of that Gerrymandering Hound of the Baskervilles “Surely Potty” who certainly ain’t no ‘dame’ to my eyes at least! Remember that?

    @ all

    I for one will contribute money to Craig in his campaign to stand as a “Clean hands” candidate. There must be some decent people whose backside currently polishes that green leather. Couldn’t they be given Clean Hands status if they were forthcoming about their “expenses”? I have an idea that baldy LibDem economics dude whose name I can’t remember may be worth ‘saving’

    Political affiliation (a somewhat silly thing I feel) IS of little importance I feel. I’d like to see independent minded people there (in the absence of a Caliph of course) and not these jackass slaves of the donators lurking behind (C/L/LD)FI.

    Galloway shows it can be done. He’s a smart cookie. Have a word with him.

    The party system stinks.

  • ingo

    I agree Craig, as well as have gone one further, I am standing as an independent candidate in my local constituent.

    Becoming Independent offers us a way out of the dogma ridden and self serving culture that has marked Westminster as bakshis land. It would make it clear that you stand for what Constitutnets elect you on and give you the scope for agreeing with other Independents on issues you agree, hopefully in a more pragmatic way.

    Those who decry PR as another sop to manipulating democracy, they must realise that it is more important to offer the voter a fair and safe way to vote for a representative and make their vote COUNT.

    PR is applied differently around the globe, some countries like Germany have a 5% hurdle to keep the rightwing rabble out, others adopt a strict selection process.

    I challange everyone on here to stand as Independents at the next general election, democracy does not need leaders or a centralised power system, it can thrive decentralised, without the machinations and near criminal behaviour that has flourished in Parliament.

    The FPTP system has had it, its at the heart of a corrupt political spectrum and fosters gerrymandering and fraudulent postal voting arrangements.

    I will try my utter best to get a different agenda heard, but Archant newspapers (Arse chant as I call them) are so runofthemill its not true, they will support a monkey, as long as he wears blue.

  • lwtc247

    “Germany have a 5% hurdle to keep the rightwing rabble out”

    European Democracy. Falsehood you can believe in.

  • lwtc247

    Best wishes ingo. I know nothing about you but If I was a gambling man, I’d put a damn big stake down that if you won, you would be a rose among thorns. (Damien Thorne’s)

  • anticant

    The point about a fair and open proportional representation system that isn’t “topped up” in a ‘party list’ fiddle is that it allows the voter to vote FOR the candidate(s) they most prefer, instead of being virtually forced – as we are by FPTP – to vote tactically AGAINST the candidate we don’t want to win.

  • Mark Wood

    At the forthcoming elections my little slip of paper will have printed in my best handwriting the words “NO: 1: 2: VOTE: 4.” I guess its time we all did something similar just to show these swine that enough is enough and we have had plenty of this abuse and the change and turn around starts now.

  • Dithers

    Craig is right, but I am sure he knows that the problem with democracy, or rule by the people, is that the mass of people dont/cant think clearly or analytically, respond easily to hysteria/mob rule, dont read books, are influenced by low-level media, tend to be xenophobic, racist, violent, etc.etc.

    In the UK, the problem is worse because of the corrosive class system, which the Labour party apes in a ghastly fashion.

    But even in the USA, a place where merit supposedly rules, an ugly hierarchy is in control..

    Humans have this need to dominate others – and they dont care how they go about it.

    There is no answer – but the system could be constructed so that if a decent man or woman wants to get involved in the administration of the State, that would be possible.

    Right now, it isnt.

    Hope is a great motivator – the UK system allows no hope of a peaceful decent life for most of the population.

    That leads to the kind of nihilism we see in the UK.

    Now I am depressed – I am going to the pub to get drunk…..(joke)

  • Dithers

    Another thing:

    Surprisingly, one way to change things in the UK is to give everyone an acre of land to cultivate.

    OK, maybe 1/2 an acre, but with food production in the hands of giant corporations, this is a democratic move that actually works.

    Allotments show the way, but they are a bit too small for real family food production.

    This has some precedent in other countries and would hand some real power back to the people.

    The land wouldnt be ‘owned’, so couldnt be sold or rented, but would be every adults right.

    I dont know if its practical, but I do know that humans do well when they have some control over the production of their food supply.

    They would have a real stake in the country, which too many dont have right now.

    That might lead to real participation in the democratic process.

  • Jaded

    ‘About Blears and all:I never thought I’d post this,but I think that the argument “it’s all within the rules so it’s OK” whilst at the same time knowing that what you’re doing is essentially milking the taxpayer is what most human beings would do,given half a chance.’

    I grew up with crime and drugs. I was dishonest and like an amoeba. A lot of people are like amoebas nowadays and aren’t even on drugs. They don’t break the law either and work 9-5. Society has been dumbed down so much. The same has happened in the U.S.. They don’t want an intellectual population. It’s nothing to do with a lack of potential. People aren’t inherently stupid. Everyone has similar potential in my eyes. That’s exactly the culture we need to change and it needs to change top down for it to work in the long term. Our MP’s have to bear a lot of responsibility for the decay in our society. They probably feel it’s ok to do what they do because a lot of society is like that now! If they aren’t beyond reproach then we are doomed. I don’t think i’m being Utopian expecting our elected representatives to be honest, caring, noble, intelligent and hardworking! Their actions provide excuses for the rest of society. Just like with the banks. It’s almost become socially acceptable to bend rules, rip people off and tell porky pies. I swear it makes me ill just thinking about it all. I think our best hope of change is getting the lib dems in. That in itself is change and at least a ‘starting point’ and departure from the old order. It is also realistic. At the top of our list of issues to address should be the financial system and education system.

  • David McKelvie

    Why can’t we have a Swiss-type referendum system? We have the technology with broadband and the internet. There’s no need to suffer the corruption and venality of these bludgers whether at Westminster, Cardiff, Edinburgh or Brussels – they could truly do as they were told then, perhaps?

    There is some movement in Oz called the Citizens’ Initiated Referendum (CIR AUstralia) [] along those lines. I’ve no idea how successful it is. But there’s no reason why the idea couldn’t be taken up and run with.

  • ingo

    thanks for support lwtc247, my chances are small nevertheless I will be rattling the cage. My formidable opponent is wheelchairbound and works well for his Constituents road users, only. So I have a mountain to climb, but hey, who says its easy. getting a good response from the public, my god are they pissed off with whats going on.

    Let us wait and see whether such anger will translate into a higher particicpation, or, disillusion even more people.

    What do you make off it? will it be ‘eek’ or ‘yoo’?

  • samarkeolog

    And one of the other, enormous, problems in (national and local) government is the movement between parliament, councils, etc. and corporations. (I know that there may be legal niceties involved here, but basically…) Some of them vote for privatisation or for public-private partnerships, then get jobs with the beneficiary companies afterwards.

    By voting for privatisation of public services and resources (screwing the public and the services immediately and in the long-term) and getting jobs in return, they’re doing something akin to bribery (“akin to bribery” being as legal and non-libelous as “near fraud”).

    The structure of the process is that their votes divert public money to private companies, which (if not consequently, then) subsequently employ them (practically for free, because their new directors/employees’ salaries are completely underwritten by the extra profits the companies make from the new contracts).

  • Johnny

    1. recall laws, whereby the local people who the MP represents can ditch their MP mid term

    2. no payments or expenses to MPs from Parliament – MPs to be re-imbursed as much or as little as little as their constituents want on an individual basis. Organisationally this can be done by local committees involving various councils and precepts on local tax bills or some such routine – there are ways

    3. no fixed term Parliaments

    These 3 points would remove the tendencies of MPs to be controlled from the centre. They are supposed to be in Parliament to represent their people. It’s a representative democracy isn’t it.

    Point 1 allows local people to ditch bad MPs based on local feelings (in tune with national feelings or not). Point 2 allows the money to be controlled locally (don’t people always follow the money – why have their purse strings controlled centrally), and point 3 is to re-inforce the notion that political campaigns should be short and sweet. With fixed term Parliaments you get campaigns lasting years. Think US presidential elections. This generates elections being won by spending money on a monumental scale – again, bad for elections which are in name at least, there to send people to Parliament to represent local people.

    Keep it local !

1 2

Comments are closed.