Monday, 17 January 2011

And a Conservative wants more politicians?

Steve Tierney, who publishes a blog called "Getting the message out" and sub-titled "A Fenland blog with a Conservative flourish" raises an interesting point - and one not seen touched upon elsewhere.The interesting point he makes, without realising it, is Cameron's desire to strengthen the control of central government.

Writing that the Coalition wishes to cut the number of MPs in the Houses of Parliament and that meanwhile, there is some discussion going on about changing boundaries so that there will be fewer local councillors at county hall, Tierney continues:
"The spirit of government is that people have their own representative who will be their voice in the organisation.  The powers of patronage make this more difficult – particularly in national government.  So if you’ve been made a cabinet member, or a junior minister, or a permanent parliamentary secretary, or some other variation of appointed honourable position – you are then expected to always and absolutely vote with the whip.  Some might even suggest that the government has purchased those votes. If MPs are cut and the boundaries redrawn the effect will be to give even more power to the executive at the expense of the legislature.  There will be that many fewer backbenchers to hold their leaders to account...."
The first part of that statement is one I have covered, to a certain extent, most recently here and where, in other posts, I have argued that disenfrancisement of the electorate is taking place when MPs are appointed to ministerial office at whatever level. The second part, about the lack of backbench potential opposition I totally missed, so credit must go to Tierney for spotting that. Unfortunately Tierney, being the Cameronian that he presumably is, promptly spoils the trend of his post by stating that he does not wish to cut the number of MPs and Councillors - but would rather increase them, thus increasing the public payroll.

Whether the number of MPs is cut, thus reducing the backbench opposition is, in reality, neither here nor there as Whips treat their MPs as no more than voting fodder - and sadly MPs willingly fall into line, thus ignoring those whose views they are supposed to represent and as a result put the needs of their party above their constituents and their country.

In case it has slipped Tierney's notice, Conservative policy is to cut the public payroll, not increase it - however, as John Redwood posts, that policy appears to be another which is being broken. It would seem that those of us on the 'right' were right - that Cameron's Conservatives are in fact closet socialists!


Edward Spalton said...

I believe this to be true. There used to be a convention that an elected MP who was invited to join the government should stand down and seek the approval of his electors at a by-election. I have not been able to find out much more about this but believe the custom fell into disuse during the First World War.

Of course, there were not so many ministers in the days when HMG and Parliament were responsible for all the UK (including Ireland), a large proportion of the earth's land surface and (de facto) all its oceans. So the payroll vote was not as overwhelming as it is today.

William said...

There were not so many ministers in the days when HMG and Parliament were responsible for all the UK (including Ireland), a large proportion of the earth's land surface and (de facto) all its oceans.

Has to be the comment of the decade for me, well the last 10 years!

Voyager said...

Yes, because Gladstone's Ministers probably felt it was "their money" as so few people paid Income Tax and it was MInisters who paid it.

Now we live in the Age of Everyman and No Man so there is no accountability. We have more Bishops than in 1900 too.

The emergence of the Soviet State in 1918 became the model for modern government and since 1945 it was triumphed throughout the Western world

WitteringsfromWitney said...

ES: If only! Now that would be democratic! Also your last comment just shows how bureaucracy breeds itself and so unnecessarily!

William: Agreed.

Voyager: True!