Politics needs mavericks, not just the same old chumocracy and groupthink
21/05/2013 Deja un comentario
(…..) The trouble with the way the Commons operates now is that once MPs arrive, every single one of those existing differences is amplified. The people chosen by party leaders to sit on the frontbenches are, as a group, male, privileged, relatively young. A high proportion of them, from party leaders downwards, have worked in political posts for almost their entire careers. On both sides of house, having an Oxbridge education is a huge advantage. A third of coalition MPs are Oxbridge graduates, but two thirds of the cabinet went there. In just the same way, a sixth of Labour MPs but more than a third of the shadow cabinet went to those two universities. The stranglehold that a single demographic has over our politics might have looked defensible if the electorate were confident that this group knew what they were doing. That’s not so now. The polls show support for all three main parties falling sharply as a general, fearful pessimism settles in. Meanwhile, the rise of a couple of unconventional, overlooked political figures demonstrates just what a mistake it is for party leaders to keep assuming talent, potential and popular appeal can only be found in a narrow group. The two politicians who are currently doing most to drive the political agenda, create change and arouse passions are Nigel Farage on the right and Margaret Hodge on the left. They couldn’t be more different from the careful, smooth-skinned, and smooth-talking male political elite. They are both spirited, fearless, occasionally indiscreet, engaging. Farage drinks, smokes, charms the Britain that thinks it’s been abandoned; Hodge is almost single-handedly using her ruthless intelligence, curiosity and determination to expose the cosy arrangements have allowed a great swath of giant companies to escape paying tax. The Characters like these aren’t rated by either of their respective sides. They’re too original, or too old, or the wrong class, or the wrong sex. Margaret Hodge spent 13 years of Labour government only ever being given junior jobs, because she didn’t fit the younger male mould. It was only when she chose her own path by standing for the chairmanship of public accounts committee that she had the freedom to shine. Party leaders don’t want irreverent, troublesome, freethinking mavericks. Otherwise, why have very able MPs Gisela Stuart and Andrea Leadsom not been given jobs? They prefer, as do bosses the world over, the chumocracy; people who will defer to and think like them. But the world’s too complex and uncomfortable a place for that. Groupthink isn’t working, and the electorate can see it. Too many of us look at parliament and feel people like us are excluded. It’s time the bright, the difficult, the grey-haired and the underprivileged were given a voice, not just on airwaves or on the net, but at the centre of power.