Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who are MPs responsible to?

Mick's right. And so is Jenni Russell here.

Now, I think that it's fairly clear that journalists will ignore incompetence and opaque dealings on a grand scale - as long as they aren't being perpetrated by an MP. And for this reason - as Russell notes - huge administrative / public policy disasters are overlooked - after all, who is daft enough to think that MPs have much influence over public policy or the civil service in the first place?

But what if that were to change? What if MPs had the resources to be active participants in policy formation? What if they could appoint and fire senior civil servants? What if they were given resources in a form that their parties couldn't snaffle?

And what if political parties - and individual ministers could bring in their own people to run a department when they were to take office?

Then politicians would be worth scrutinising in some detail. They would actually start to run the country. Not that our useless fourth estate would actually bother to scrutinise anything much below the surface either way.

Oddly enough, an otherwise stupid leader in The Telegraph a few weeks ago (I linked to it yesterday as well) unwittingly had a grain of truth in it:
"The regulation of political donations has replaced a culture of conscience with a one of compliance: MPs are now able to behave shabbily, but then claim that they broke no rules."
It seems that everyone had dropped the pretence that MPs are elected representatives in any meaningful sense. We understand that policymaking or the oversight of administration is beyond them, and we're happy to see them placed in a situtation where all of their rivals can massively outgun them (pressure groups, vested interests, political parties, the political centre and the permanent bureaucracy, etc) and where their only role is to provide a rather desperate side-show - an institution that is unable to meet the very high standards of a fairly low-life media.

Their job is not to exercise their conscience in the interests of their constituents and the party that they stood for. The only job of an MP is to ensure that the paperwork if filed properly with an array of vile bureaucrats. MPs aren't responsible to voters any more. They report to Sir Humphrey and the Shit Sheets. Their only function is to not draw attention to themselves while staying within a series of pettifogging rules.

This will not be changed while there is such a concentrated focus upon how they manage their relatively paltry budgets - indeed, this focus will undermine the legitimate case that you would expect pro-democracy commentators to be making - that MPs should be more effective contributors to policy formation and the oversight of public administration.

Modesty forbids me from naming the only blog in the whole fucking world that is making this case.

There are those who are explicitly opposed to the representative democracy, and there are their numerous useful idiots in the commentariat. That's all.

1 comment:

ivan007 said...

Yay! Just wanted to say, great post, I'm in agreement with you here. Cheers, Ivan