Monday, 25 April 2011

AV or Not AV - that is not the question.

Let’s get this straight. The argument over a marginal improvement in our electoral system pales into insignificance against the massive and damaging failures of our democratic system.
All three major parties are singing from the same song book. They may not be on the same tune but they are on the same page. Very little real choice exists. Hence the made up spats about who is telling porkies in their av leaflets and internships. It is all designed by PR and Spinners to make us think there is a difference. Consider their abject grovelling before the bankers; their readiness to hit the weak and the vulnerable and the protection of the rich. And especially consider the supine approach to tax avoidance. So much so they are proposing to exempt themselves from upcoming legislation.
All three parties are dominated by bright young things who followed the same route. Oxbridge - Researcher to an MP - Assistant to a Minister or Shadow Minister - safe seat - Parliament. Not having a clue about real life outside the bubble. Yet these same people can happily send other people’s sons and daughters into an increasing number of wars. They can consign thousands to the dole queue with barely a qualm. They can reduce or remove incapacity benefits from the most vulnerable with the merest twinge of conscience. They offer patronising platitudes instead of radical action.  
The party system stinks. It was useful in the days when parties held national conferences to decide policy issues. Now it is done by sofa government with an inner caucus comprising members of the political class with several so-called advisors and rune readers. Many MPs are party hacks who obey their whips and traipse regularly through the lobbies without a brainwave troubling their skulls. It goes even further with the parties often parachuting in favoured creeps into local constituencies to ensure a shoe-in into the Commons. It is astonishing that any of the parties still have activists prepared to lick envelopes and ‘go on the knocker’ when they count for so little.
One new MP complained recently that she did not understand the contempt that MPs are held in. When the repayment of Expenses and their exemption of Tax Avoidance is considered (Daily Telegraph) it is clear they still do not get it. Too many still see it as a license to join the gravy train. This used to be a Conservative trait but recent research revealed that Labour MPs were just as eager to join the nest lining clubs. Shame upon shame.
Our system is rooted in the 18th Century. ‘My Honourable’ this and ‘My Respected’ that is just so much hifalutin twaddle when the sins and arrogance of the place are considered. Voting takes an incredibly long time and allows whips to bully the feeble minded (and the lecherous to have a quick grope - true!). Nothing that an electronic system could not put right. A root and branch reform of the procedures of Parliament is long overdue. 
AV is a very small step when giant strides are needed. A ‘No’ vote should serve to light the blue touch paper to all sorts of extra-parliamentary action. A ‘Yes’ vote will not lessen the need for swingeing reform.

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