Wanted: A culture of change


The world of British politics is a unique, complex confusing place. Parliament is confused in its approach to change; it seems unable to decide whether it is a progressive flexible body looking to the future or an established conservative organisation building upon history.

The past months events have highlighted not only the failures of many individuals within parliament, but also the system itself. I can still remember being taught the concept of parliamentary conventions during an A Level politics class and being slightly perplexed by their influence over such important decisions. When we questioned why politicians are obliged to follow the conventions with such rigidity the response was plain: “they just are, it’s always been like that".

The expenses scandal and subsequent removal of the Speaker has undermined the notion of parliamentary conventions, the taboo has been broken, and as such we are facing a constitutional crisis. Foreign democracies must look at British politics with an air of bewilderment. Under a codified constitution the rules surrounding MPs pay, the office of the Speaker, accountability and subsequent scrutiny would have been much less ambiguous. The system we currently have fails to safeguard the fundamentals we have the right to expect within parliament, including democracy and effective scrutiny of the executive.

There needs to be effective reform, soon, and not the type of reform made by MPs to benefit MPs. A new culture needs to be bred within parliament making it far less insular and with a focus on public rather than self service. These changes need to start from the bottom up, for example, by adopting US style primaries and implementing term limits we would stop the abundance of career politicians and make many safe seats more competitive. This would make many MPs work a lot harder for our money and remove much of the established dry-rot that plagues the houses. We would also not have another unelected Prime Minister.

This change needs to happen soon or there could be huge and permanent repercussions for Britain. Two months ago we would have said a Speaker would never by forced from office by MPs, just as we said it would be impossible for the fascist BNP to hold a seat of power – now that is an incentive if we ever needed one.