07.02.08, The Government We Deserve. Really?

Yesterday I was in the company of two, very bright women in their late 80s, who in all the 60 odd years that I have known them have only talked babies, weddings, gardening and suchlike, and yet yesterday they lambasted the politicians, saying that they believed nothing they were told any more. They thought the government couldn’t govern, they abhorred the deceit, the financial mismanagement, personal and national, the money grabbing, and above all they were worried for the struggling majority with unmanageable personal finances and the paucity of enjoyable life for the children. We have heard it all many times, but that is the problem, we all seem to know what is wrong but can’t correct it.

Let us assume the main problems are, lack of experienced politicians, the desire to stay in office in spite of extreme duplicity and mismanagement, the refusal to accept blame, and finally an election system which permits the ruling party to have an unassailable majority, which doesn’t allow for reasonable restraint in the face of the need for rethinking and caution. The desire to be loved at all costs is an added deterrent. Theoretically, in a democracy everyone should have equal opportunity and equal say in the way their life is run. In reality after they have voted they no longer have a say, nor seem to want one. Occasionally there are minor representations, but the basic structure remains unaltered unless there is a strong force at the top, with a strong backing, coupled with an intelligent opposition, offering aid and criticism as warranted, rather than the steady rants to bolster its chances at the next election. .No one seems accountable today like they were years ago. Do you know what your MP looks like? Have you ever seen him (her), written to him for help, and if you did was there a satisfactory outcome? If the answers to most of these questions is no, are we getting value for money, because it is costing a hell of a lot to keep the government bandwagon on the road when you take account of the expenses, the support staff and the upkeep of all the departments and buildings?

I have often said working in a city council environment was less frustrating, more productive and easier than as a civil servant doing the same job in roughly the same area. Big business, and the armed services, handling large sums of money, and in some cases, life and death, operate on a pyramidal system. I wonder do we need the 600 plus members of Parliament. We are told that they are required to act on committees. In my experience three or four intelligent people will arrive at a sensible solution in a 10th of the time that a committee of 20 would take, when in the end the committee’s resolution is often the opinion of one man. There has to be input, and output, and this is the function of those at the bottom of the pyramid. Our system was duplicated to some extent, before most of the vital operations were centralised, and the teeth of the councils were drawn..

I know it will never happen, even though it may seem logical to me, that we would incorporate the functions of the councils and parliament in a single system, with the major decisions taken at the top, while the majority of the employees would be at local level, where they will be approachable to the public, and closer to the work in hand, as the councils were,. There will still have to be some separate departments such as the foreign office, and the War office. Tax collection, including council tax could be made much simpler and consequently cheaper to run. I believe that a system of this type would be considerably more wieldy than the current one, where our voices are so far from the executive, they’re never heard.

Since we do not want the sort of debacle the poll tax produced, it would be wise to fund, say, three universities in different geographical and social areas, to undertake to research the problems and devise a model or models, from which the new system might emerge and can be evaluated. I believe the current system has been shown to be past its sell by date, if for no other reason than there seems to be no restraint, no deep thought, and too much razzmatazz.

Categorized as General

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