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Representative or Pawn of the Party

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posted on May, 27 2008 @ 05:50 PM
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Since Gordon Brown took the mantle of Prime Minister there has been much controversy as to whether he should have called a general election when Tony Blair stood down, many say he has no right to be Prime Minister as he was never elected.

However the political system within the UK works by voters within a constituency voting for a representative, the party with the majority of representatives can form a Government and their leader is made Prime Minister. In the case of Labour this is Gordon Brown and in the case of the Conservatives this would be David Cameron.

What got me thinking was that the concept of electing a representative and the idea of a political party system are surely in conflict, most people don't see names on a ballot paper they look for the political party they like (or distrust the least) and vote for them rather than choosing the individual they believe will fight for them in Parliament or best represent their wishes.

While that may be true we could also point out that voting for a political party rather than a individual favours a wider outlook on the voting system, after all the big decisions that affect us are voted for or blocked in Parliament, and more often than not the voting follows a party line.

Could removing the candidates political party on the ballot form leaving only names make for a fairer political system where voters have to research the candidates rather than vote for a particular party? Or is there a bigger picture?

edit: Because despite making a draft I forgot to check the title.


[edit on 27-5-2008 by UK Wizard]




posted on May, 28 2008 @ 06:17 AM
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Let's face it, many people in the UK, and especially floating voters, vote the leader rather than the party.

I don't for one minute think that Brown would have been anywhere near as successfull as Blair in previous elections.

Blair was a reasonable PR man (at least he usually SAID the right things) Brown is not.

IMO the reason why so many people moaned about Brown not being elected is because they voted for Blair as leader - and as we know, the leader is the man who takes the flak and conversely, gets the credit when things are going well.

Party politics may not be the most perfect system of government, but it at least provides a semblance of unity, and for party politics a figurehead is required.
I believe that many vote for the leader and his "vision" rather than the party as a whole, simply because that's the way it's presented to us.



posted on May, 28 2008 @ 08:36 AM
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Interesting thread Wizard but I think you're leaving out the real point on the minds of most who pose this question (see final paras).

Surprising as it is for me to have to say it but I think a good read of Edmund Burke (one of the most influential tory thinkers and political theorists) is required (by the more right-wing tory minded) for he set out pretty well the case for a representative democracy and not a delegated one.

I don't want my MP to be a delegate.

I think those raising this as a matter of complaint really ought to give the matter more serious thought.

It's already sometimes annoying that MPs are whipped
(tho they can defy the whip and remain my MP......what in a system of delegates, they have to resign?).

In the most obvious case I like most cannot devote myself full-time to finding, investigating & absorbing all the information or access all the expertise that my MP can so therefore I expect him or her to represent me by doing so, full-time, and by being a 'thinking free person' and not effectively just take orders from his/her party
(or even me when I necessarily must be under-informed on so many topics).

Of course this cannot be completely perfect but IMO the representative is far more preferable to the delegate.

The Govs of the political extremes in the last century also show us quite graphically what delegate Gov can lead to.
Remove the thinking human from the equation and expect the ill-thought-out & inhumane?

As for a Gov of no parties?
Well that would atomise the political in this country and would IMO have the net effect of ultimately allowing the nation to be dominated by interests other than the people's; probably most prominently the media owning and big business
(as if their undemocratic influence wasn't powerful enough).

No thanks.

As for recent UK history?

I think only the most blinkered revisionist could possibly claim to have been unaware of the years of bickering between Brown & Blair.
Particularly in the 2007 general election.

Anyone who seriously wants to pretend that they 'voted for Tony Blair' (and not their individual Labour MP or even the Labour party) and were utterly stunned to find that he later stepped down and Gordon Brown took over is, IMO, only kidding themselves.

We all knew it was going to happen, the only question left at that stage was how quickly?

Anyhoo; our political system is one where our political parties have every right to elect a new leader without putting the country through the instability, cost and inconvenience of a new general election.

It's just hard luck that some don't like it.......and let's be honest it's only cos they don't like the fact that it means a Gov they don't like stays in office.

This time around it's the Labour party and Gordon Brown, with the tory party & their support imagining that they could get them out of Gov quickly if they were given the chance of a new general election.

Last time around it was the tory party & John Major and similar but reversed Labour sentiments.

Tough luck but we just don't go for that kind of thing.
Quite rightly IMO too.



[edit on 28-5-2008 by sminkeypinkey]



posted on May, 28 2008 @ 09:02 PM
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Originally posted by UK Wizard
Since Gordon Brown took the mantle of Prime Minister there has been much controversy as to whether he should have called a general election when Tony Blair stood down, many say he has no right to be Prime Minister as he was never elected.

However the political system within the UK works by voters within a constituency voting for a representative, the party with the majority of representatives can form a Government and their leader is made Prime Minister. In the case of Labour this is Gordon Brown and in the case of the Conservatives this would be David Cameron.


Precisely. No prime minister is ever elected by the general public - it's only by their party. To elect the Prime Minister would basically mean turning the job into that of a president in all but name... because if a PM was directly elected, a change to the constitution would be required. Is this fair? Does it matter?

Half of all Prime Ministers since the war (six out of the twelve: Eden, Macmillan, Home, Callaghan, Major, Brown) have taken over mid-term, and only one of them called a snap election (Eden in 1955). Some went on to win subsequent elections (Macmillan and Major), others went on to lose (Home and Callaghan) and Eden himself resigned before facing the electorate again due to his handling of the Suez Crisis.

Having studied this (and written an essay on it) I would suggest it doesn't matter nearly as much as you think. It's true that the Prime Minister is the front man/woman - the face of the government. But he or she has very limited time and cannot take decisions on the vast majority of issues; these are left to Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Junior Ministers. Indeed, the vast majority of issues are dealt with by the civil service with only major decisions reaching ministers, and generally only highly important issues reaching the prime minister himself.

A prime minister must also maintain the support of three key bodies:

1) Parliament - If he or she loses their majority, their job is under threat.
2) The Party - If he or she becomes unpopular in the party it can catastrophically weaken a Prime Minister's authority. See Thatcher and Blair for examples - both were forced out by their own party before they wanted to go.
3) The electorate - This is the crucial one, as it has a major impact on the other two. If a PM is unpopular with the public then it might make his or her party more likely to dump him/her before the next election (as Labour is contemplating with Brown at the moment) and it might also embolden the Opposition in Parliament to try to inflict critical defeats on the government, eventually calling for a no confidence vote.

Truth be told, despite what some people think, the job of Prime Minister is an incredibly tough one and is somewhat paradoxical; at the same time it is both the most powerful position in government and potentially the weakest too. Much is down to the person in office and the circumstances they find themselves in. The system we have now works better than you might think at first. And I for one don't really like the idea of a British president.

As for MPs and parties... well, again it's a bit of a paradox when you look into it. Independent MPs would be more democratic perhaps, but would it make for more effective government?

If people vote for their MP because of his/her party, surely that's their right as a voter? They can vote for a candidate for whatever reason they like. If most vote for a party rather than a person, isn't that the public's own fault?



posted on May, 30 2008 @ 04:58 AM
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reply to post by UK Wizard
 


If I understand you correctly then I can add the following .

Well for all its complexity and the fact that some people still wont accept it MMP helps some what since a persons Party Vote and Electoral Vote don't have to be for the same party . In other words I could vote for the sitting Labour MP while giving my Party Vote to the centre right National Party . Myself I much prefer Pre Selection and party's electing there leaders to the Primary process. If voters are unhappy with the leader a party has chosen then they will show there dismay in the polls and at the Ballot(SP?) Box .



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