A humble proposal for getting parliament in order

This follows on from A Proposed Solution to Political Parties.

The nature of the suffrage

Let’s look at Nigel Sedgwick’s paragraph:

Well, firstly, my analysis of the problem is different. The primary problem is not the existence of political parties; that is only a secondary or tertiary problem. In so far as it is a problem, what is required is a weakening of the influence of political parties – particularly the larger ones. It will not be possible to do away with them; nor is it really desirable. They are, after all, just examples of political cooperation and compromise between individuals – taken to an undesirable extreme by central control.

With all due respect, I feel Nigel [S] is agreeing it is a problem but he is placing its priority order lower, which is not to say it’s not a problem and I illustrated in my opening paragraphs practical examples of where such formalized parties have caused untold problems which could have been otherwise avoided.

One example is the current French impasse where one faction leader who wants to be the Big Leader has separated his faction in the Assembly from the actual Big Leader who was elected and there is schism. I pointed out that parties have platforms and leaders and do not represent all points of view, necessitating the good will of members plus the Whip. That is a ludicrous system.

Nigel says that there’ll always be collusion and parties – many people are “clubbable” and like to be part of something bigger than them. Fair comment but in parliament, it leads to the type of abuse we see, not forgetting the lower quality of parliamentarian – it can be no other way.

If you have formalized parties, then you get the parachuted dross and the deadwood, whereas if you don’t formalize them, then candidates must stand on their own merits, even if backed by money, i.e. the talent net is cast more widely and the quality of candidate stands a better chance.

An objection not raised so far is that this plays into the hands of a largely silent PTB. If bloggers hadn’t uncovered Mark Carney, we wouldn’t have known just how dangerous this man is in his granted role for the next few years – the New Order he writes of. Parties would seem the only bulwark against such as him but they’re still a pretty corrosive bulwark which asphyxiate the community they’re trying to protect.

The lower house

Nigel [Sedgwick – that other one is not in this] appears to me to play down quality for quantity in that he adheres to one man one vote for his lower house:

There should remain, election of MPs to the House of Existence by the concept of one citizen, one vote; this is because it is necessary.

… but he does not say why it is necessary. I am not saying that there should not be universal adult suffrage but that it should be earned. He says it is open to abuse. I say all systems are open to abuse and the issue is – which abuse is worse? If the suffrage still exists, which it does with a system of qualification for the vote, open to all and costing virtually zero after the initial setting up costs, as it would use a black box system [The Ivan System, I call it], then it is the best compromise between two opposing views:

1. that most voters are cretins and if they have suffrage, you will get governments in their image;

2. one man – one vote prevents tyranny.

I believe the Ivan System is the least worst compromise on that and could be applied to Nigel’s House of Existence. The charge of the listing of questions to ask being open to abuse – depends how you go about it. You need only go to one of the older bunches of GCSE exam papers from yesteryear and there are your questions – as Ivan pointed out, why need they be political questions at all? naming the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is pretty universal I should have thought.

The upper house

Nigel Sedgwick again:

a fully elected House of Taxpayers, where electoral votes for that House attach to each pound of tax paid by each citizen, rather than to the existence of each citizen.

We’re presuming here that it is elected by taxpayers alone.

This addresses a fundamental problem of the payments to government by the most productive people in society and is a failsafe stopping socialist governments appropriating other people’s personal wealth, i.e. it leaves the final word to the most productive as to where their resources are allocated, whilst allowing them not to have to do the spade work itself, on the grounds that these people are out working and earning.

Good system. It also breaks the nexus betweeen the houses, in that no one is automatically kicked upstairs and the Leader of the House of Experience cannot control the House of Taxpayers.

How to get there

Many fine schemes fail because they do not take into account political realities. Much as I hate to give any credence to a self-confessed Blairite who wishes UKIP ill, he does have a point though:

It’s a false dawn. However noble their cause, or steely their resolve, Nigel Farage and his irregulars are marching towards defeat.

Ukip are not a political force, but a political curiosity. In years to come many a pub quiz trophy will be won by those who can correctly answer the question: “What was the name of the guy who ran the anti-EU party? Begins with an N.”

In life there are rules. What goes up will come down. The Earth rotates around the Sun, not vice versa. And come election time, minor British political parties get squeezed out of existence.

It may not be fair. It may not be healthy. But them’s the facts. And unfortunately, they are immutable.

Sorry, he’s right about his corrupt system. Truth is, UKIP are not going to get in because of:

1. the nature of party politics, which is what we’ve been saying;

2. the idiocy or ignorance of the electors under one man one vote, which is what we’ve been saying.

One way to get to a desirable situation is to modify what is already there. Nigel S:

As some might know, in the UK, the current House of Commons is an excellent basis for the House of Existence; reform of the House of Lords (fully elected and with reinvigorated authority equal to that of the other House) would be a very good way of getting a House of Taxpayers. And, largely if not totally, this takes nothing from citizens – it gives more to nearly all of them – if not equally, IMHO equitably.

And in this next, why “replaced”? Why not “in addition to”, thus satisfying the broadest range of criteria possible in one fell swoop?

… value for money becomes a major issue – along with long-term economic growth.

Thus the dream of James’s ‘Immortals’ (with their apprentice ‘Journeymen’) and Plato’s ‘Philosopher-Kings’ is replaced by the reality of balanced self-interest: between the politicians (as chosen) by and for their favoured constituencies.

What we have there is my classical concept from antiquity versus Nigel’s bourgeois pragmatism – it’s only a difference of style, not of substance. Call the houses or the voting system what you wish, make it as mundane as you like, as long as it is put in place. Who’s the pragmatist now? 🙂

One thing he is absolutely right about is that there has to be a practical series of logical steps by which the condition we’d like to see comes about. The House of Taxpayers was an example. The idea of one man – one, two or three votes is harder to put in place because, for approval, it depends on the vote of the one man – one vote devotees.

Unless of course your name is Mark Carney or Common Purpose. Then it becomes a doddle, a fait accompli, transforming the face of public life as we know it. But that’s the next post.

2 comments for “A humble proposal for getting parliament in order

  1. mona
    November 28, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I tell you now, two foster carers, three East European immigrant children and a Common Purpose Council are going to make political history, the massive resentment to way we have been abused will now surface, the genie is out of the bottle. PS. Farage keep away from light aircraft.

    • November 28, 2012 at 11:41 am

      I was going to write to Nigel [Farage] and tell him that.

      It’s interesting that sometimes the topic “takes” here and gets comments, other times it takes at my place. Today, this has “taken” at my place and so I transfer some of the comments over here.

      A K Haart, on November 28th, 2012 at 10:31

      Interesting issues. For me, the problem in devising modifications to our electoral system is predicting the outcome of proposed changes, which I suspect is impossible.

      People are the problem – too many of us just don’t put in the effort to understand while others put all their efforts into corrupting and manipulating. The latter are a moving target we’ll never pin down.

      Meanwhile, people with good intentions find themselves disagreeing.

      ivan, on November 28th, 2012 at 11:52

      A question for Nigel S. Who make up the members of your ‘House of Taxpayers’? If they are politicians then I could foresee a worse situation than we have today. With two elected houses of politicians what is to stop them getting together on party lines, and they will, to screw over the population.

      In my opinion we need less politicians rather than more and this could be brought about by the use of ‘black boxes’ that allow the population a direct say in government, the voting being weighted in the direction of excellence.

      Amfortas, on November 28th, 2012 at 12:06

      Add in a few ‘conditions’, such as – you cannot vote for anyone to be in the House of Taxpayers if you have a job paid by the taxpayers;

      ‘Elected members’ of any House will be paid at the average wage and not a penny, pence, cent or a sniff of a note more;

      they will not be permitted to take any gift, emolument, stipend, whathaveyou from any other source;

      a term of Office of a ‘Member of any House’ will not exceed five years, after which no other public job may be taken and no job or earnings of any sort may be taken on the strength of having been a ‘Member’.

      Nigel Sedgwick, on November 28th, 2012 at 12:53

      I note Ivan’s point on who might be the candidates (less political ones) and plan to come back to it later, not least using stuff I wrote for “Burning Our Money”, which is so old that the comment website has been deleted (very sad).

      I also agree that this sort of additional aspect should be covered

      However, I see that both Ivan and Amfortas are not writing on the issue of the electorate (£taxpaid versus ‘better’ people). The principal issue here is moving away from universal franchise: whether, and more broadly how. These comments are, I fear (and as I mentioned above), ‘hiding’: even if it is by the subtlety of diversion, into detail or otherwise. Perhaps we could leave such detail (which does indeed have its relevance) until we have at least some other opinions on the primary issue between me and James.

      Best regards

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