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Right (Dis)Honourable

The recent debacle over MPs expenses sent me scurrying back to my old blog to have a look at some of my previous musings about the ethics of our so-called “honourable” members.

It’s quite sad to see that I was ranting about the endemic corruption at the heart of the British Government five years ago, during which time absolutely nothing has changed, and nor will it while the same old cronies are latched on, like bloated leeches, to the parliamentary system.

The problem is, no-one seems to care.

Where is the anger? Where is the sheer unadulterated disgust about how taxpayers money, OUR money, has been frittered away by fat-cat MPs whose grasp on reality is, at best tenuous, and at worst, clearly non-existant to the point of being deliberately provocative.

Were this Thailand, Georgia, Burma, Hungary, Ukraine, Cameroon, Lebanon, Venezuela or any one of a dozen other countries around the world, there would now be a huge number of people camped permanently in Parliament Square calling for everyone in Westminster to clean up their act.

The sad fact is that we have become too accustomed to our politicians and public servants having their noses in the trough, and the only thing worse than the actual corruption is the mock outrage of the media, which stands braying on the sidelines, but which itself is just as ethically challenged.

It is one thing though to add your voice to the cacophany of outrage; it is quite another to sit back and come up with an alternative system which might put the honour back into being an “honourable member”.

Here’s the plan – there are currently 646 constituencies in the UK, at the moment in a general election, everyone over the age of 18 is entitled to register to vote for the candidates in their constituencies – this register is the Electoral Roll – the winner in each constituency becomes the MP.

The only people that the electorate can vote on are the chosen candidates, usually selected by their parties, many of whom know nothing about the constituency they are being considered to represent. True you do get some worthy local candidates, but they struggle to get onto party lists and anyone putting up their own money to stand as an ‘Independent’ is, apart from a few notable rarities, doomed to failure.

So let’s dispense with some of the democratic niceties that have actually created this morass of corruption.

May 6th, 2010 – the latest date on which the current government has to call an election, so on that date let’s NOT have an election.

Instead, on that date let us announce 646 names – one chosen at random from the Electoral Roll of each constituency – they would be our new MPs. Each person chosen would be automatically given a salary, an office, plus a week to pull-out if they didn;t want it; anyone already employed would be automatically have their job protected. They would form a true House of Commons.

There would be a retained retinue of 100 experienced MPs, selected on their record, from across the political spectrum; they too would be paid a standard salary, and they would form an interim government, however all their major decisions would be subjected to a vote and a debate in the Commons.

It would then be up to these MPs to choose a leader and a cabinet, but the process should be done democratically within that group, those leaders would join the interim government and eventually there maybe no need for the professional MPs at all.

So where does the democracy bit come in? I hear you ask.

The democracy starts one year later, May 5th, 2011 – on that day people will be asked to vote on the record of their MP, did they think their MP did a good job, did they represent the public’s view, were they honest and indeed, honourable?

If re-elected they would continue. If not then a new name would be chosen at random, simple as that.

At a stroke we would have rid ourselves of the party political system and its inherant corruption, dispensed with cronyism, re-ignited the public interest in politics (“yes, you could be our next MP”), put back in place the crucial link between the public and their parliamentary representative and, by making an example of those selected, put the “honour” back into being an “honourable member”.

Obviously this is never going to happen,  but the process of thinking of a new way to meet the democratic challenge has been intriguing and interesting; one wonders what would happen if those in a positon of real power actually put their minds to it once in a while?

[EDIT/Update: Some links have been updated]

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