Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: MP

‘I think y’know’

The current Labour leadership contest has thrown up many interesting moments not least the man who only just made it to be nominated is, according to those ever reliable polls, leading the field. Those who nominated him weren’t expecting that, only doing so to widen the leadership debate. Now many in Labour are crying foul because Jeremy Corbyn is doing just that. Watching and listening to the Labour leadership debate is both refreshing and 600,000 people getting involved can’t be a bad thing, even if some are making mischief.

Whatever your flavour or colour of politics any government needs a strong opposition. Democracy needs opposition or it doesn’t work and some very bad things start to happen. Look at Syria as a very painful, worrying case in point. The point of opposition is to oppose and give credible, thought out alternatives. As those alternatives are debated it makes the government up its game and we get better governance and a choice, a real and actual choice. We may even get something to believe in too.

What the last election proved was the ‘centre ground’ is not what many want, as to have a centre you need to have two points to know where it actually is. We didn’t have those two real opposing points. As a result other parties flourished although they are now not fairly represented in our first past the post system. Can it be fair that 4 million voted for UKIP and they got one MP and 1.5 million voted for the SNP and they got 56 MPs?

Whoever gets the Labour leadership we all need them to be an effective opposition, to hold the government to account. We need Labour to come up with ideas and policies that inspire, to raise the debate and our interest in politics for all our sakes. But there is a bigger issue.

Our political class, both locally and nationally, seem to lack any real ideas and vision. There are some obvious examples of those who do but the majority don’t, hence the disinterest and our contempt in our leaders and elected representatives. The evidence? Simple. When you hear them speak you will hear two key ‘tells’; ‘I think’ and ‘y’know’, as in ‘i think the NHS needs reform’ or worse ‘y’know, I think the NHS is the best in the world’. If our politicians need to think then they can do it in their offices or one of their many homes. When they talk to us through interviews or through parliamentary debate I want them to know.

I want our politicians to have arrived at some certainty, a clear vision and conviction and not to be still thinking about whatever it is they are talking about. And, y’know, ‘y’know’ is just lazy and shows a lack of clarity too. I don’t know, I’m waiting for you to inform me so I can make my own mind up, so I can decide who or what is best to make the big stuff happen. That is why I have elected you, to do this for me so I can live my life knowing that you know, that you are doing the thinking about it and then when know you tell me. I want to know our elected representatives are certain in their purpose, having informed me at the election their thought out intentions.

Currently our elected representatives keep putting it all back on us, maybe we so we can’t hold them to account for it. That is not part of the deal in a liberal democracy. The rise of the consultation is the weak answer to a lack of certain vision. It’s crept in from weak management and leadership in business. It’s the ‘I don’t know despite being elected/paid the big bucks/being somehow put in charge, so I will put it back to you, and then when it goes wrong it’s your fault not mine’ mentality of our decade.

Leaders lead, they tell us their already thought out vision and then do it, with our democratic support. Leaders don’t expect us to know ‘y’know’ because if we did know then we wouldn’t need them.

In the next few months we can only hope that when the silly season is over, the summer holidays are done and the political pondering is complete we have an effective government and an effective, vibrant opposition. This might get us all involved in the process more as we may have leaders who thoughts lead to conclusions, policies and actions.

You never know, y’know.

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Do you buy the bi election result?

UKIP win a bi election and come a very close second in another. What does it all mean? Who really knows? All the claims of a new ear of four party or even five party politics are a bit far-fetched as one Green MP and one UKIP MP doesn’t really change anything for you and me. It does mean they can do stuff in the House of Commons and for their constituents but it’s a bit like being a one-legged man at an arse kicking party; thanks for the invite but I can’t really join in.

History shows us that fringe parties are mostly parties of protest. There are a chance to give the main parties a bloody nose and tell them to listen and to stop being what they think they should be. This time it may be different, especially if the Rochester bi election or as it should be known the Reckless bi election goes UKIPs way too. The Reckless bi election; how apt.

What is surprising is that the main parties didn’t see this coming, much like they didn’t see the SDP coming, they failed to see the financial crisis, prepare for the recession and actually deal with deficit that we are all living with and will continue to suffer from for many years to come. Why? Simple. Short termisum.

Our current leaders are short-term opportunists, hoping that the next year will be better than the last by tinkering around the edges but seldom planning much beyond the next electoral cycle. Even when they try with deficit reduction plans or fixing energy prices we don’t believe them and, in reality, they can’t actually do it because big P politics always gets in the way of achievement. The drastic public spending cuts and/or tax rises required to reduce the deficit will never happen as they would be political suicide. Other ‘vote winners’ such as the freezing of energy prices in a global market are, frankly, nuts. It’s the stuff of Canute and tides. If this had been done last year you would have lost out on the falling oil prices of the last 12 months and be paying well over the odds. Today the oil price is at a four-year low. Short termisum defined.

Our leaders, or managers (see earlier blog) do not get it. We need vision, leadership, statesmanship plus the ability, ambition and drive to see it through. We need do-ers not talkers who say they are ‘listening’ or have had ‘a wake up call’ or say ‘I want to tell you this’. Any politician who says ‘I want to tell you this’ should have the microphone removed from him or her, be sent home and they do something else, where nobody will be really listening either.

We need actual, real leaders and those who actually do. We need those who say they are going to do something and then actually do it. We need our faith restored and, until we have that, we will give anything a punt because our hope is the most powerful aspiration we have. The trouble is that hope is killed by failure and our hopes have been dashed a fair bit by all the political colours and their successive failures in the last two decades.

On my recent BBC trip to Bordeaux I saw a French city through the eyes of its governance not through the eyes of a tourist. It was fascinating. In two decades and with a lot of pain for those who live in Bordeaux the Mayor and the council have transformed the city with integrated public transport and bold policies to claim the city back for the people. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops but I didn’t meet anyone who didn’t see the city today as better than it was twenty years ago. The Mayor of Bordeaux has been elected three times and is about to run to be the President of France. Alain Juppe is a man who gets things done.

The vision, the action, the result is what we vote for in a true liberal democracy not words, more words and sniping at the other lot. UKIP have clearly demonstrated that if you fill the green leather benches of parliament with managers and sound bites voters will look for leaders who apparently stand for something. UKIP a have cleverly combined Europe and immigration into policy with a simple solution, leaving the rest of the political class to flap about like fish out of water, still gagging at the word immigration.

The next seven months will be very interesting as we may see the emergence of two types of politics and politician. Those who get it and those who lose their seat.

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