There are tiffs all over the place, even on my site.
The issue at my place is over women bishops. If the CofE did not have a hierarchy with power positions, this dispute which has caused such ill-feeling would never have happened. If there wasn’t an UMP, then we’d not be seeing Fillon act like a child over there and set up his own version of the party in the assembly.
We would not have had the wets and the dries, the true conservatives and the pink-tories. We would not have had issues in 2006 with people aspiring to “run” a blog group. OoL these days runs as a blog, not as a group and so the question never arises. We would not have a Cameron v UKIP stand-off.
The essential problem with parties, as you well know, is that there is no way, the bigger the party and the more political or religious it gets, that it can encompass every viewpoint. So it writes a manifesto, a policy document but most would disagree with at least something in there. More often than not, the whips and the conscience vote take care of this.
Then there is the ministerial collective responsibility, i.e. ministers are expected not to shoot their mouths off outside the cabinet room and even there it is dangerous. So constantly, members of groups and parties are faced with decisions of belief and conscience. In religion, e.g. the women bishops thing, it is vital that people act according to conscience as that is the whole point of the church.
In a party in power, it is more incumbent on members to comply, to toe the line, to show a united face, even if that face is not what they believe in. Was there ever anything more ludicrous than that? The solution, of course, is no parties, that MPs are elected on the strength of their stated policies and possibly their association with a point of view. For example, a Christian need not be part of another’s church to broadly agree and support the other.
The notion of a hierarchy though, an oligarchy, handing down what someone should think or directing how someone should vote, is anathema to me. The notion of tribal voting is a good reason such people should not have the vote or to be slightly more democratic, have a lesser vote. So the ignorant would be guaranteed one vote, someone who can show political understanding via a test gets two and someone sitting the full exam gets three – something like that.
IMHO, the prestige of being, say, an Immortal who has passed the exam or perhaps a Journeyman who has passed the test, is something interested people would be proud of. It might well get people to come up to speed on their knowledge of nation and politics. Always supposing that there is zero restriction, plus only a nominal admin cost, then it is democratic by its own lights. It does not exclude people except on knowledge.
Perhaps there can be a fourth category – someone who has earned a qualification in some field of work and has been in it for X years, plus the political diploma on top of that. From this group would come the parliamentarians and only the qualified would get to be candidates in the elections.
There would be a leader of the house, elected by the house and his/her job would be to ensure the functions of State ran, e.g. defence, benefits for the rigorously defined deserving, diplomacy, the police and other matters like that. Who would that be? The one most MPs wanted. That still doesn’t mean one or two artificially opposed parties, one blue, one red.
Legislation? Electronic black boxes of course, in the homes of Journeymen or Immortals. For the One-voters, they’d need to get down to the local council office and cast manually or via touchscreens. Any issue at all for parliamentary discussion would be posted online for people to access should they wish and the electoral commission’s job would be to keep that running, with arguments also included for people’s perusal.
The date and time of the passing of the bill, the deadline, would be onscreen and at the deadline, the votes on that issue electronically calculated. The results could be grouped. For example, if 75% plus approved, then it would be incumbent on the parliament to take it onboard, if 50-74%, then it would require parliamentary discussion and a vote, if less than 50%, then it would be up to MPs if they introduced it.
Bills could be introduced by the Immortals out in the community, which gives the ordinary people access to a say more immediately than with an MP. There’d be time set aside for constituency business in parliament, i.e. the MP would introduce something pressing from his/her constituency, on the basis that if it fell into certain categories, it would just be carried.
There’d still be a speaker, the Queen would still call on the Leader of the House on issues she wished to be informed about or to tell him about.
The thing is – we don’t need parties to do this. Sure people tend to associate and collude and might even call themselves conservatives or workers or whatever but it is not recognized as such in the parliament, even if they sit together. There could even be a simple rotation mechanism for where people sat, i.e. every six months, they’d move along ten places – whatever.
Party costs, e.g. advertising, nominating PPCs etc? The former is up to the individual MPs, the latter is a nominal fee, non-refundable, e.g. £50. All nomination etc. is done via the blackboxes. Cost of airtime.
Instability? Overturning of legislation? Something law one day and not the next? It need not be so if there is a drawn-out process where laws are added, not at Nu-Labour rates but maybe twenty bills a week. After all, the parliament is taking care of much less business now.