It’s because he has been generally heralded as a great constituency and parliamentarian that my thoughts turned to what the role of our MPs actually should be and what they are paid to do?
Whether he was that upstanding, as there is an increasing amount of evidence that he wasn’t, is not for this post to cover.
Something which I doubt many MPs understand is that their official role is both to make laws and to scrutinize the Executive or Government.
It is because they have moved so far away from their primary role and become quasi social workers to their constituents that our governance is so lamentable as evident by the many bad laws rush through parliament on the ‘something must be done’ basis.
The reality is most constituents’ problems and concerns could be solved by local councillors or Citizens Advice offices but the later are very stretched having been reduced from 1074 in their heyday to around 316 today. This reduction was as the result of government cuts with little long term thinking about the consequences.
Implicit in our Second Demand 'Real Local Democracy' is that our national MPs would only concentrate on the issues of national importance such as Defence, Home and Foreign Affairs and of course the overall budget for the country. In their reduced role, concentrating on national issues, there is absolutely no reason why MPs should have to work every day of the week and indeed secondary employment would be encouraged, giving every MP a much broader outlook. Also, in such a way would their work life balance be improved.
Meanwhile local politicians, in a much-enhanced role, would take care of all local issues on a county basis with the powers to raise taxes a proportion of which would be sent up to Westminster to finance central government. This is of course a complete reversal of our current system where central government largely controls local government expenditure.
Interestingly my county of Somerset with a population of 560,631 is served by 55 County Councillors and, over four Districts, 214 District Councillors. That’s a total councillor count of 269 which gives you one councillor to 2084 citizens. Albeit councillors are currently part-time I really do wonder what they actually do but with a complete overhaul of local government and a greater role their value and worth would be enhanced.
Given the current thinking is that MPs should do constituency work it should be noted that around 200 MPs, by being either government ministers or Shadow front benchers, have responsibilities that take their focus from their constituencies. Our second demand clearly address this point as well.
THA is also very clear with enhanced local government and MPs concentrating on national issues we do not need 650 and could easily reduce the number to around 400. That would mean there was one MP for every 167,000 people which compares to 750,000 for each member of the USA House of Representatives.
The Executive or Cabinet would, under our third demand ‘A Separation of Power’, be separated from parliament along with all other ‘ministers’ thus leaving parliament free to hold them to account.
In addition to the reductions in the House of Commons the House of Lords, renamed The UK Senate, could also be reduced from 788 to around 300 with a third each appointed, elected and selected by sortition.
THA's demands set out a whole new way to govern this country
in which the 'People' have real power, local politicians become important
figures making real decisions and dealing with constituents’ issues thus
leaving national politicians to concentrate on the key issues of State.
As Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote in his novel The Leopard "everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same"