Clean out the Westminster stables

At election time the political parties compete for our votes and no matter how awful the choice a winner emerges. This successful party chooses their own leader and thus we arrive at a Prime Minister and Government. It is widely believed that these parties have become (or always were) a corrupt system leading us in a direction no one would have chosen willingly. There is little or no chance of the existing system being challenged by anyone outside the establishment.

This would be less tragic if the traditional parties actually represented public concerns but there is a huge gulf between the two. It has probably always been this way but in recent years the public have been waking up to the reality that Westminster holds us, the voters, in contempt.

Given the level of frustration with the existing system and the lack of any real alternative normal people are tuning off politics. Many cast their vote just to keep the ‘other lot’ out, a few actively spoil their papers and a significant number don’t bother at all. Our voting system ignores spoilt papers and no matter how small the number of votes counted whoever gets the most gets the seat.

The 2016 referendum showed that when given a clear choice and a belief their vote will actually matter people do act, especially if it can be combined with a snub to the establishment. But they need a simple message to agree on.

Many MPs are elected with less than 50% of the vote. The unrepresented majority loses out because they are split into groups each wanting a different MP with different policies – the one unifying factor is that they do not want the one they have.

To unite everyone around a party would require a manifesto that everyone can agree on but as soon as policies are added potential voters begin to disagree, the media moves in to attack and the party loses popular appeal.

Now, consider a party that presented a single simple policy, namely to elect people who will never attend parliament and take no salary or pension from Westminster. The stated objective of this party would be to empty parliament of politicians allowing a restart of the UK system. Each successful candidate would be an empty seat at Westminster and a clear message that the establishment was being rejected.

There would now be an official candidate at the election for disaffected voters and would also give non-voters a reason to participate.

Such a ‘party’:

  • could not be attacked by the media as it would have no policies to attack.
  • could not be classed as left/right or even centralist.
  • would have no membership, leaders or policies – so could not be corrupted from the inside.
  • would require no major funding so could not be influenced by financial backers.

The costs should be minimal as it would need no advertising, no media spokesmen and no expensive manifestos. The quality of the candidates would be irrelevant: they would not campaign and if they won the seat they would have nothing to do and would not take a salary. Candidates would simply be the vehicle for voters to register their protest and have it count.

Some initial organisation would be needed to construct a system that worked as intended but anyone involved could stay anonymous and free from personal attacks.

If there really is a thirst for change within the UK and this idea has validity then given enough exposure it would spread just on enthusiasm and who knows what the result could be.

© Bill Clarkson 2018