Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Let's have more elections

Financial considerations were the main concerns expressed by the Mayor and Cabinet over the possibility of a move to all out elections every four years rather than the thirds system currently used by Hartlepool Council. The wasn’t a single mention of the main reason why I thought elections are actually held, namely to allow the people to express their democratic rights through the ballot box.

Most politicians hate elections! It is the one time when they actually have to listen to the people. Peter Mandelson for example has reached the ultimate “safe seat” he can remain in government without ever having to face the electorate ever again. Political heaven. The power, the position, the influence but zero accountability to the people. How is that democracy?

Of course most people just trot out and vote how they always vote so it’s irrelevant to them if elections are every year, every four years, or even once in a lifetime. The “I vote X, always have, always will” brigade are the politicians favourite voters. They can be ignored, lied to, manipulated and generally abused but they trot into that polling booth, or nowadays more likely complete their postal ballot, and vote the way they have always voted. Its like a spouse going back to an abusive partner, no matter how many times they are slapped, kicked or knocked around they go back again and again, either because they are scared of being alone or they know their abuser loves them really!

Most voters are like abused spouses, they are too scared to leave the party they have always supported as that would mean doing something different, or they “know” the other parties would be even worse, their current party has told them so and of course they know best.

However, some of the electorate do actually think about things and just occasionally come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, voting the same way every time is not the way forward and maybe, just maybe they should look at the record or performance of the parties. These are then the dangerous people for politicians. The dreaded “floating voters” These are people who look at issues, who consider policies and actually cast their vote according to who they think is offering the best solutions to today’s problems.

The massive advantage of elections by thirds to me is that the people get their opportunity to have their say on a regular basis. I would do away with general elections if I had my way; let’s put a quarter of the MP’s up for re-election every year. Wouldn’t that concentrate the minds of our rulers? Let’s have more elections not less. Let’s elect the Chief of Police, lets elect the Magistrates and JP’s, lets elect the members of the Hospital Trust Board. Fewer appointment, more elections, that’s what I say!

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