A significant tranche of the Parliamentary Labour Party proved just how completely out of touch it is with the UK public on Tuesday when a staggering 46 Labour MP’s failed to turn up and vote for their own motion against the hated Bedroom Tax.
Not only had it taken a staggering SIX months for the Labour leadership to decide that they didn’t like the tax (“it’s stupid and naïve to commit to repeal as we don’t know what the books will look like ’til 2015) , but then influential MP’s such as Gordon Brown, Jim Murphy and Alan Johnson showed contempt for their hard hit and struggling constituents by not even bothering to show up and vote.
The whips office came out with some complete and utter twaddle about “pairing” (where MP’s make cross party promises not to vote if their opposite Tory member is absent in some quasi Public School arrangement where it is more important to “play the game” than have principles) meaning that the missing 46 meant nothing for the maths. How out of touch can you get? Voters want to know if their MP is standing up for them or not. They aren’t interested in such decadent practices!
Funnily enough, these 46 were excused but whenever you want to book an MP to speak six months in advance, even in London, “they might be needed for a whipped vote” excuse is trotted out. Strange how “pairing” isn’t relevant then.
MP’s are embarrassingly out of step and irrelevant to the needs of the voters. Russell Brand was right when he said it’s not the electorate who are apathetic, it’s the MP’s. Why aren’t they doing more that just voting in the chamber against cuts? Many swerve any responsibility for taking a leadership role, helping the unstintingly hard working volunteers organise in the community by actively opposing austerity on the streets and estates of our nation.
It’s an historic problem, and one we need to get to grips with as Parliamentary democracy is a total irrelevance for most young people. It’s no wonder that despite the crippling attacks on the working class, people are not turning to the Labour Party. When leading councillors refer to “compassionate cuts” and then vote en masse for them, who can blame the public for either staying at home and accepting the inevitable, or look to other more active groups such as the People’s Assembly?
When we see MP’s who take home £4,000 a month claiming for their gas and electric as well as £15 for dinner whilst ambulance staff are losing their £6 meal allowance, and our bills are rocketing is it any wonder that the ghost of Edmund Burke is raised?
Burke writing in the early 19thCentury when, like now Parliament was a stinking, putrid mess said he did not want MP’s who represented the East India Company, or the rich merchants in silks. He said MP’s should represent everyone, no matter what their background and I don’t want my MP David Davis representing Civica who make software for the NHS. We don’t want Yorkshire MP Willam Hague representing AMT-SYBEX who are an IT supplier to the NHS. And we don’t want Tory MP Jonathan Lord representing Virgin Healthcare.
Equally we are sick of David Blunkett, a Labour MP and former Cabinet Minister sticking his nose in the trough. He is now an advisor on business development to A4e Ltd, for which he is paid at least £25,000 a year. A4e describes itself as a “market leader in global public service reform”.
Then there is Peter Mandleson, former First Minister (de facto Deputy Prime Minister) “advising” local authorities about how to beg on their hind legs, like little lap dogs, for scraps from the London Tory table if they are good little pups and roll over when austerity is imposed.
But there is another way. It’s called Socialism and it’s lest heard of cousin, democracy.
Anyone who aspires to be an MP under the current system, should be automatically disqualified from being one! Seriously, those putting their name forward should ideally promise to be more of a delegate and take notice of CLP votes on what they should be saying and doing. They should only serve two terms to reflect the ebb and flow of society and be subject to mandatory reselection. Parliament should not be a career gravy train. Terry Fields, Pat Wall, and Dave Nellist didn’t starve to death when they drew the average salary! Don’t fall for the tiresome argument that this will put off the brightest and the best. It won’t. MP’s aren’t some super species, they should be like, and look like us and be able to represent us from a position of experience.
Let’s give it a go. We can’t carry on like this, as someone once said.