Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Parliamentary Churn

'Churn' for all of you in business means staff turnover. Common sense suggests that extremes of churn are not good - one no more wants a wholly ossified, but highly happy workforce than a young, new but dissatisfied one. So just how much churn is good for Parliament? The Chartists for example wanted one-year terms for MPs with members standing only once, in an attempt to make the Commons a representative assembly rather than a private members club. 

Peter Oborne is delighted that 9 out of the 147 Tory intake of 2010 are quitting after 5 years, but says it should be more. And so it should - but not, perhaps, all 147. For there are those so valuable and useful to Parliament, fishes in water, orators and selfless persons, those loving their nation over their purse, that to rob Parliament of their contribution by limiting them to a single term would do us no justice. 100% churn is not healthy, but neither is the death, illness or incapacity grounds of most Parliamentary vacancies. 

I'd suggest therefore that any reform that limits MPs' terms of office must allow for a number of MPs to return for a second or subsequent term - perhaps as many as a quarter of them. And those permitted to stand again should be selected by fellow MPs, by secret ballot, towards the end of each Parliament. The Speaker should not be immune from the process.   

Such a scheme would rid Parliament of the asinine idea that politics is a profession, give far more activists a crack at a term in the House and ensure that MPs are people with jobs who are taking five years out for public service rather than thieves, liggers and deadbeats.


Sebastian Weetabix said...

No, no, no. Any scheme which allows politicians to select from their own pool is just mad. Clubbable chaps, buggins turn... the Common Purpose cunts would just love it. Meanwhile the awkward squad gets chucked.

The establishment only loves characters that are neutered and old. Remember Manny Shinwell? The plaudits he got when he popped his clogs? Well they fucking hated him when he was effective.

We, the voters, get to decide. That's it. Just have a recall bill so if, say, 20% of the constituency get sufficiently steamed up they can trigger an election. Ditto term limits. If an MP is good I don't care if he squats in Parliament for 60 years.

DeeDee99 said...

The problem with 5 year terms is that the incumbent will not be answerable for their actions. They could do whatever they like, safe in the knowledge that they will never have to face the electorate and account for their actions.

I think a maximum of two terms is better.

We need increase the age and experience of our politicians. That means setting minimum levels of both: No-one under the age of 30 should be allowed to stand for Parliament and they must have a minimum of 10 years' experience working in a senior capacity in their chosen profession or running their own business.

We also must stop the parachuting in of Red and Blue Princes who will become MPs for life based solely on who their father was.

Sackerson said...

Shinwell was a Communist and we should be glad he sold out to get a peerage.

We're aware of the negatives about this professional class of politicians but as Raedwald says there are those who have chosen it out of a desire to serve (though there is always the ego problem, vide Blair and others).

And with fixed terms there is the quesion of loss of expertise, not only in policy areas but in how to get things done, bills passed. Look how many years it took for Wilberforce to get the anti-slavery bill through.

Besides, what kind of direct democracy should we have? Once you have the mob, you have the orator. We need to look at the quality and modes of public communication, otherwise we could becone a People's Republic like China under Mao.

Maybe the real starting point is media ownership and regulation.

Flyinthesky said...

Problem is I see an elephant in the room.
We change the visible faces in parliament but the real government remains, the upper eschelons of the civil service.
An activist is elected into parliament but the real government will give many reasons why the changes cannot be implemented, after all empires have been built they can't have new upstarts threatening them.

Mike Spilligan said...

I'm against bans or prohibitions in principle but I'd make one exception to DeeDee's professional experience requirement. No lawyers at any level, practising or retired, shouled be eligible; though I know that they'd scream about having crucial insights, etc. Can anyone quote me the name of a lawyer MP whose over-riding thoughts were of the nation and not his and fellow lawyers' bank balances?

Ps John Waller said...

We already have a system for ensuring that good MPs stay and bad ones leave. One that leaves the exact percentage of churn entirely down to us.

The system is called a general election.

The problem is that like the idiots we are we keep blindly reelecting anything with the appropriate coloured rosette attached to it.

Maybe a better system would be one that banned every voter from casting the same vote as last time. That way we might actually engage brain before picking up the pencil

English Pensioner said...

If I had my way, no-one would be eligible to stand as an MP unless they'd had a proper job and earned a living outside politics for, say, fifteen years. Far to many go from university, straight into local politics before getting involved in National politics, becoming a political adviser, and then standing for parliament.
I also think that there should be a ban on Cabinet Ministers aged under about 50. Far too many younger ones use the job to make contacts for "life after parliament". For example,did Tony Blair do what was best for this country in any talks with the EU or did he do what was best for Tony Blair? I suspect the latter, he seems to be our richest ex-Prime Minister in history.

G. Tingey said...

Has the most important point.
Become a "professional politician" if you must, but ONLY after you've done a proper job ....