The recent news that Chris Huhne, the former Energy Secretary, had admitted to perverting the course of justice by coercing his now ex-wife to take a speeding ticket he had incurred, allowed me to reflect upon the by-election that will take place in his constituency, Eastleigh, in the coming months.
This, a Liberal Democrat seat before the former Energy Secretary resigned, will now be contested by the Conservative Party who will be looking for a win and Labour possibly seeking to make a point and put the Lib Dems firmly back in their place; third place that is.
But what about Respect, the Green Party, UKIP, BNP and other smaller parties that represent a select group? Why do they have no chance of gaining this seat in Parliament, but then also struggle on a national basis in the general election?
The answer is of course the use of the First Past the Post system used general elections in the UK, which has allowed the party system that is in place here to manifest and dominate.
It has managed to undermine the whole notion of representation, by hazing over what it is to actually have someone voting on your behalf on national matters, someone who would act on the same principles as you, if we were to live and vote in a direct democracy.
The use of party politics in Parliament itself is a major perpetrator of stealing representation away from the public. MPs who are voted in are expected to ‘tow the party line’ and the use of whips effectively blackmails the representative to vote on behalf of the party, even if their constituents are against it. They are practically puppets being controlled by the upper reaches of their party.
The public are effectively, indirectly voting for their next Prime Minister by voting for the MP with the same logo in a general election. Most voters usually know little about, or even who actually represents them, and only know about their leader.
Thus, the majority of elections are just the granting of a mandate for the Prime Minister to push through their manifesto and act in the nation’s interests, the majority of them anyway.
Surely it should not be a case of choosing the party who you have to make the least compromises with, but actually the one that represents you entirely. A political party cannot represent both students and retirees; these two groups are unequivocally different and are only two of many with their own unique circumstances and interests. A multiplicity of small parties is what’s needed for the UK to ever come close to being a representative democracy.
This article is not calling for the creation of a ludicrous amount of political parties for every single sector of society to gain effective representation, but instead a realisation that the UK is not a true representative democracy. Your MP is not representing you at all, but is ensuring that the country remains stable by forming a collective, strong government.
A foundation is needed for a decisive and responsive government that aids the country in times of crisis. What we have to work out is whether we want a truly representative state or one that can respond adequately in times of despair. The two, unfortunately, cannot be combined.