I thought this piece from 20 months ago looks interesting today in the light of EU meltdown and banking pleas coming miles above citizen needs today……
Why the House of Commons is as out of touch as ever.
Government and its influencers have the public on a plate.
Last night, Peter Bone’s attempted amendment to the Europe Bill (which would’ve made in-out EU referendums more directly related to Brussels power-grabs) was rejected by 295 votes to 26. Yet in the UK as a whole, a majority of the electorate is avowedly secessionist, referendum or not.
Over the last decade, this has been a standard feature of Commons behaviour. Now of course, the role of any legislature at times should be to lead opinion when it thinks – on the basis of calm consideration – that popular opinion is ignorant of the important facts of the matter….capital punishment being the classic example.
But that isn’t what’s been happening in recent years. On immigration, for example, MPs took it as a racial issue for years after the populace stopped seeing it in that light; and MPs ignored the blindingly obvious statistics about immigrant numbers, services overload and housing problems.
Monday’s poll showed 80% of British voters expecting the economic situation to reach a disastrous level. This too is not reflected by the general level of complacency at Westminster….but observe the data and realities of fiscal and economic issues in Europe, the US and China, and the People’s instincts look very sound.
Week in week out, the Financial press, quality press and Coalition Government come out in favour of an end to banker-bashing…culminating in Downing Street’s (both numbers 10 and 11) truly grovelling announcement about zero bonus interference the week before last. This view is shared by the vast majority of anti-Coalition Conservatives. As a whole, however, it is the antithesis of how ordinary people and non-quoted business feels about banks. Here too, one’s gut feel and extrapolation from the figures (a cost of £1,3 trillion in bailout whatever the pathetic attempts at justification might say) are on the side of the public.
We are not being ‘led’ by a legislature and Executive which knows better: we are being ignored by a political class whose instinct is to avoid accountability.
Most people in this country would dearly love to get back to accountable leadership. Bu they think the ironic truth is that our MPs are so incompetent, although inclined to simply do some focus groups and then carry out the wishes of everyday bigots and loudmouths, they can’t even get their act together to do that.
The real problem is a much more serious one. What our legislators and leaders do is listen to what the powerful interest groups want to happen – and then facilitate that.
In 2005, that was the Muslim Council and the not entirely nice Iqbal Sacranie wanting a law to stop any criticism of Islam. In 2006, it was the senior mandarins who wanted to vote themselves fatter pensions. In 2007 it was social services opposition to abolishing Secret Family Courts. In 2008 it was the banks demanding taxpayer bailout and the Security Services an end to habeus corpus. In 2009, the EU wanting us to bend the knee to its illiberal demands. In 2010, the GPs and the BMA, the EU wanting bailout money, Rupert Murdoch wanting the rest of BSkyB, and the Turks wanting a free pass into the EU. Now in 2011, we’re back to the bankers again, powerful quangos like OfSted demanding to carry on being idiots – and surprise surprise, the troughers themselves….MPs who don’t like the new expenses regime.
So when the next lot of out-of-step power brokers come into view – Unite, the Teachers, the Civil Service Unons, Brussels again, wobbly State-owned banks and needy US Presidents – don’t be surprised when the Downing Street line favours the pressure groups rather than the under-pressure voters.