We get the Political System and the Politicians We Deserve
Should we be surprised or even outraged that the conservatives have done a grubby deal with the ten DUP politicians in order to stay in power?
I certainly do not think we should be surprised. Politicians always claim that they have the highest motives… the national interest … at heart.
We all really understand that most politicians are human, like the rest of us, so naturally act in an entirely selfish manner, having most regard for what suits them.
I think that Conservatives are rather more prone to think and act in that way than most other politicians.
Politicians differ from most other people in that they are very good at justifying selfish actions, by ascribing higher motives for what they do.
That is the reason they talk up the need for “strong and stable” government and talk about the £1 Billion of public money miraculously found to persuade the Irish Ten as necessary “investment”.
Another feature of politicians is that they have a well developed thick skin which means that they can simply tough it out when all the world knows that the money is a bribe, only paid to keep them in power and that it doesn’t exactly square with their earlier assurances that there was no magic money tree to provide more money to pay fire fighters or nurses or for schools.
So, we really should not be surprised, nor should we be outraged, given that we, the voters, have decided to stick with the electoral system we have – one that requires a minority party to do “deals” in order to stay in power.
I cannot but help compare this situation to the formation of the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition.
I don’t think that even the worst critics of my party would argue that agreeing to become the junior partner in a coalition deal did us any favours.
We seemed to get no credit for anything we achieved in government.
We certainly lost a great deal of support for doing so and have not yet recovered.
One important difference is that the Liberal Democrats did not seek to extract special advantages for just one part of the United Kingdom.
It’s no criticism of the DUP – they exist to represent just one part of the UK.
Given similar circumstances, we would expect the SNP and Welsh Nationalists to do much the same thing.
All this leads me to the conclusion that politics is about deal making, often with the real motive being staying in “power”, as opposed to the best interests of the nation. It’s a lose, lose, situation under a first past the post system.
We either get a majority government that starts pushing through extreme right wing or left wing policies, or we get a minority government that is weak and has to offer bribes for sectional interests.
The answer to this unsatisfactory state of affairs is to follow the European model of electing governments, by means of Proportional Representation, (PR).
This encourages more political parties to compete for power and to co-operate with one another.
It would also mean that every vote counts, regardless of where you live.
I hope such a change happens in my lifetime.
One way it could come about is that the present government falls, there is a fresh General Election and the Liberal Democrats get enough MP’s to extract the real price of power sharing, a switch to PR.