Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Understanding the coalitions that are our parties

There is a fairly wide-spread view that the country has “had enough of coalitions” and does not want to see another bout of post-election coalition negotiation.

Yet most parties are themselves coalitions where the negotiation is done out of sight – usually by party elites and pay-masters. Not exactly transparent and rather lacking in accountability.

Most parties see it as a disaster if the veil is lifted and we “the voters” are allowed to see what is going on inside.

John Rees-Evans, UKIP’s candidate in Cardiff South and Penarth, is quoted in the Guardian as saying: “We will occasionally get into trouble but we would prefer to have that kind of libertarian ethos in the party that allows you to say whatever you think.” The problem is that this unearths the real thinking behind policies that … (my emphasis)
Julian’s Musings: UKIP is not a racist party, but

Why is it a problem if loose talk unearths the real thinking behind policies?  I wish all parties could let the “party line” veil slip so that we could see and understand what they really mean.

I seem to remember that the Tories had problems with a certain associate of Cameron who in 2001 let loose the real thinking behind some of their economic policies and consequently was “put in hiding”. I would have far preferred it if the Tories had “that kind of libertarian ethos in the party that allows you to say whatever you think”.

I suspect that Labour also have people who are inclined to “loose talk” but – apart from a shadow minister for public health – the party machine has been very good at maintaining the veneer that covers over the chip-board coalition that is the Labour party (and other parties).

If I vote this year, I would prefer to vote on the “real thinking” rather than the “veneer”.

  • Veneer “No top down reorganisation”
  • Real Thinking “set it up for privatisation”

If we could have some understanding of the diversity of opinion within the parties, it would be far simpler to find areas for agreement.

The pro-Europe view is a besieged minority in the Conservative Party, but within the Houses of Parliament is probably a rather diffident majority.  Yet after the election we could have an anti-European Conservative party joining with UKIP to force a damaging European policy on the House of Commons.

If we could un-stitch the party coalitions what views might we find on:

  • Europe
  • Welfare Cuts
  • Tuition Fees (!)
  • Fracking
  • Global Warming
  • Foreign Aid
  • Health
  • Education
  • etc.
  • etc.

We have to get our minds around the fact that when we have a General Election we are electing representatives. We then have to hope that following the election we have a set of MPs who are representative of the diversity of opinion within the country.* If that were to happen, we could then trust that body to assemble a parliamentary programme for the next five years rather than have a “programme for government” that has been cobbled together by unrepresentative party elites and pay-masters. If we cannot accept the indirect democracy behind a parliamentary system, we should look to a presidential system, where we directly elect the likes of Thatcher, Blair and Cameron with massive power to divide the country in pursuit of pork-barrel politics. Personally in terms of a Parliamentary system for representative democracy, “I think it would be a good idea.” (ref) Certainly better than a Presidential System.

Until then let’s have more loose talk revealing the real thinking behind party programmes!

* Yeah, I know tough with the current electoral system, but it is that system that we really have to “fix” rather than always trying to fix “party positions” prior to an election.

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One thought on “Understanding the coalitions that are our parties

  1. Pingback: Protest or Principle | Outside the marginals

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