On the eve of the EU and local elections, there has been much activity at Parliament. As several ministers have announced their intention of resigning, there are rumours and speculation of an early election. But, in my opinion, everyone needs to cool down and think logically.
The expenses furore has gone over the top, with political bloggers fueling the debate. Politicians’ morals have been called into question and there is a mob-like atmosphere in wanting to dissolve Parliament and all the MPs. I’ve seen it remarked that delving into a candidate’s background before voting for him is such an American idea, but I wonder if the Brits are starting to consider this. In the past, it seems many voters cast their votes for the party, rather than the actual candidate. Now, they find their candidate is not as squeaky clean as they thought. It comes as a rather big shock.
But the anger displayed after reading the Telegraph disclosures is beyond reason. Yes, clearly, some MPs committed fraud or abused the spirit of the system. But not all; and each political side will defend their party’s members. The reaction to everything one reads, though, is that all MPs are tainted regardless of their claims. People are over-reacting to each and every claim without looking at the claims individually and assessing them for their worth. Is it worth mentioning that someone listed something but did not claim it? Is it worth mentioning that someone erroneously claimed something and when their attention was brought to it, they took care of it? It is different had the person made a false claim deliberately, i.e., attaching a note explaining why they were claiming for it. In that case, they cannot later claim that it was a mistake. How could it be a mistake if you tried to make an excuse for the claim at the time?
Furthermore, the mob outcry is influencing individual thinking and behaviour. What right do I, or anyone, have in telling someone in another constituency to get rid of their MP? None. As I have stated before, individual constituents must make the decision regarding their constituency’s MP.
That’s why I believe that instead of everyone calling for a general election now, they should have by-elections for those MPs whose positions are dubious at the moment. Will people really be happy with a general election now? They are angry and want to see change. But is that change likely to happen just because a new group of MPs are in? They will not know the new candidates from Adam, despite nice promises. Wouldn’t it be better to have by-elections now, give the new candidates a chance to prove themselves, then have the general election next year? After all, won’t all the seats be up for election at that time? The call should not be for people to vote out incumbents; the call should be for constituents to address their MPs individually, including the much-esteemed PM, Gordon Brown.
If all accused MPs were to face their constituents for a by-election, we might see some new faces. Oh, but wait, if all accused MPs were to do that, it would be almost like a general election. And it sure doesn’t take care of the problem of these fraudulent MPs claiming their pensions and bonuses. Hmmmm. Then, how about by-elections now for those who are standing down, resigning their positions, under investigation for fraud, demoted or decried by their leaders?
That’s just the first and easy step. The harder part is to convince people to think things through reasonably so that they vote in their own best interest and not because of mob rule. It doesn’t help that there is no real campaigning, where candidates or at least, their party, explains where they stand on certain issues and how they plan to address those issues. As I understand it, there is a House rule that new or controversial issues or legislation is prohibited from being discussed with the public prior to an election. How transparent is that? And is there ever a time when legislation is put to the people to vote on? It makes you wonder how popular some of the legislations are.
I digress a lot. My bad. I apologise. But, seriously, the elections are tomorrow. I would hope that those going to the polls will do so in the right spirit and in the right frame of mind. The rest of the political drama will probably unfold as soon as the elections are over. And I worry that the mob may get what they asked for and find that it really is not what they wanted.