On the hunt

Views on Central & Local Government


06 June 2024

Trust in our Politicians

As we enter the battle between politicians trying to get elected to parliament it is worth considering just who it is that is asking for our vote? What do they represent and are they prepared to stand by it? The Guardian newspaper has just published an article based on a book 'Politics on the Edge' by former MP and Government Minister Rory Stewart in which those very questions are posed as he illustrates the reality of the existence of someone representing us in the House of Commons.

These questions are important as they hold the clue to just how our elected representative will behave once elected and whether they will stand by the promises made to those who elected them. Of course we all recognise that promises made depend on whether they are on behalf of the Party or the individual representing them. We also, hopefully, recognise that delivery must be within the capacity of the person who makes the promise. The bedrock of these promises is trust that they will be delivered. Otherwise what should we believe in?

The Party Manifestos are the basis of the promises made to the electorate and those who stand for a Party are expected to conform to and support those promises. But, there is also a compact between the individual and their electorate that they will understand the needs of the local electorate and will strive to deliver on those needs. The election following is when the voter gets the opportunity to deliver their verdict on just how well the representative has performed. No, or poor, delivery means broken promises and damaged trust.

Within the Liberal Democrats we understand the consequences of that breakdown only too well as evidenced by the damage the 2015 election wrought on us. That damage was as a result of failure to deliver at a national level not at a local level. Locally Liberal Democrats have a well deserved reputation for delivery on their promises. This has earned them the trust that politicians need if they are to perform and try to deliver. With the General Election now in full swing is the time to ask yourself, Can I Trust this person to do their best for me and do they understand my needs?" Will they give me a Fair Deal and try their best for me? From the Liberal Democrats. the Party with local candidates, the answer is 'Yes, you can trust us and Yes we will do our best for you', we will give you a Fair Deal.

1 June 2024

Another Tory defects to Labour.

With the defection of Mark Long to Labour, Tory defections are fast becoming a habit that has serious undertones for our democracy. That three Tory MPs have now defected within a matter of weeks raises questions of why. Apart from the obvious answer that they did not agree with current Tory policies there are plainly other reasons that bear examination. One defected because he did not agree with Tory policy over the NHS, another because she did not think they were doing enough over illegal migration and the last because he no longer recognised the Tory Party as the one he had joined. That they chose to defect to Labour, the main contender for the next government portfolio, suggests something other than ideological preferences.

One defector came from the extreme right wing of the Tory Party. That she chose to defect to Labour means that either she was more concerned with damaging the Tories or that Labour has moved so far to the right that someone with extreme views felt comfortable joining them. If the Tory and Labour Parties have changed that much then why have more not defected? One answer is most probably that the two main Parties are more concerned with power than representing the British people.

Under our First Past the Post system of elections the only way a person can partake in government is by being in one of the two main parties. That means they have to subvert their true beliefs and embrace an ideology that may run counter to their instincts. To maintain such a fragile unity means that both Tory and Labour have to resort to heavy handed methods to keep their members in line. This can be by corrupt practices such as dangling peerages, by threatening to withdraw the whip or as in the case of Labour by manipulation of the selection process.

Those Parties that are in the minority naturally support more democratic means of choosing our government and support proportional representation as the method of election. Keir Starmer rejects proportional representation even though his members voted for it at national conference. So we have two Party leaders desperately clinging on to an unfair voting system just because they crave power, whilst the electorate just want fairer government. As Liberal Democrats we believe in a Fairer Deal and call for a say for all voters which is what Proportional Representation can deliver.

31 May 2024.

Can Labour be trusted with Justice?

The treatment of Diane Abbott by the Labour Party shows a complete divorce from the principles of a just and fair society. Keir Starmer's claims that, first the case concerning her racist remarks were still under review and, second that no decisions had been made concerning whether she could stand for Labour in the forthcoming election were both shown to be false. If a former Head of the Public Prosecution service struggles to produce the truth then what hope for the British people if he should end up as Prime Minister, it would be a case of Johnson all over, again.

In the case of one of our local MPs all it needed to ensure that he could not stand again was an accusation. He was in effect de-selected by the Labour Executive before he had a chance to answer his accuser. Thus he has been deprived of his rights and his living before justice gets the chance to exert any influence. We are not in a position to judge whether his suspension was deserved that is for others to decide.

The Liberal Democrats believe in a Fair Deal for all and that means that principles of Justice must be shown to operate for all, not just for some.

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