One of the things I dislike about our country’s governmental system is the way that electing a competent MP is detrimental to the local representation. I would like to think that the people we elect into power are able to represent our best interests, even if some of them don’t, and have thought for a while that anyone who is a minister for something-or-other is going to find themselves hard pressed to represent anything local at all. I was still somewhat surprised to read this, however:
(An interview of Meg Hillier with Blood & Property)
Blood and Property: How does your job as a minister fit in with your job as a constituency MP?
Meg Hiller: The difference is that I can’t speak about issues in the chamber of the House of Commons that aren’t related to my ministerial portfolio or department.
So I can’t ask questions in the House on certain issues but that’s not necessarily a problem because there are other ways I can raise them. For example, on the Crown Estate proposals, which is a big issue in the constituency, threatening to sell off its property in Victoria Park, I’m working very closely with the other MPs involved who are not ministers. We’re working together but they’re speaking and I’m supporting.
MPs who are ministers “can’t speak” on local issues. We elect them into a position of local responsibility, and they get promoted into silence. This is really, really stupid.
On the other side of my local ward is Denny de la Haye, an Independent candidate who is standing on a platform more like Athenian democracy. He intends, should he be elected into parliament, to vote on any issues put in front of him based on what local people decide, via his website. There are a number of issues he feels strongly enough about to exclude from this system. This appears to be much like the swedish “Demoex” political party, but – beyond reading their wikipedia page – I don’t know very much about them.
The downside of such a system is that part of the social contract of the elected officials is to make unpopular decisions that are for the good of the future, rather than suffer “tyranny of the majority” type problems, but the political climate is so horribly poisonous right now, with the average person’s trust in MPs trashed by allegation upon allegation upon scandal upon duck-house, that the idea of a more direct line into government could reinforce the idea that they do indeed work for us.
The ward I live in is fairly safe for Labour, so it’s possibly a doomed attempt on his part, and I need to research his opponents more, but it’s an interesting experiment.