Parliament of the People


Parliament of the People?

Every day we hear stories of anger and despair, people destitute, dying, as a result of governments refusing to address the ever widening rift between the rich, and the rest of us, with the numbers falling into deep poverty rising alarmingly. Whether we classify ourselves as working class, middle-class, or just ordinary people, there is no doubt that in comparison with periods in history, the collective people have found a voice. Education, science and technology have provided us with tools of communication never seen before.

There are a number of ways we can make our opinions and needs understood today. We can communicate around the world in seconds. Tweeters, bloggers, marchers – we can all make our voices heard. We can write to newspapers who may decide to publish. The BBC may be selective in what is broadcast, but in comparison with agricultural workers or the factory workers in towns in the nineteenth century, people have higher levels of literacy and the means to communicate instantly around the world today.

Yet while communication today has increased,

power has diminished considerably.

The working class found a voice through the Labour movement and trade unionism, giving some influence and power to workers and founding a Labour Party which sought to being about change. How representative is the Labour Party today? How representative is parliament?

Government policies have led to a plutocracy, billionaires and corporations holding power over people as long as they hold a tight grasp on the very basic needs of water, food and energy. So many politicians today, obstentiously elected to represent people in parliament actually represent the interests of those who funded their election, who seek influence under the auspices of some Think Tank or collective groups.

If any one company has played a decisive role in the destruction of the NHS, it is the consultancy giant McKinsey. Partners and other McKinsey staff regularly senior take jobs inside goverment. Dr David Bennett, a former senior partner, became chief of policy and strategy for the Labour goverment from 2005 to 2007. Dr Bennett is now chairman and acting CE of Monitor, which regulate the new Health Care market and play a crucial role in offering NHS business to private companies.
Dr Penny Dash was the Department of Health’s head of strategy from 2000. Dr Dash was a key author of the NHS plan which set in train Labour’s privatisation agenda. She subsequently became a McKinsey partner and played a role in producing the Labour goverment’s two Darzi report, the first of which sought to radically restrict levels of provision and staffing in London. The second envisaged a system of private owned polyclinics across the nation.
Red Pepper (1)

Similarly, it is well known that the interests of the Insurance company Unum, are central to the controversial Welfare Reform Bill 2), and evidence of their involvement was documented as early as 1995. Policy and power no longer rests with our elected representatives , but with Think Tanks which seem to be ubiquitous these days and decide everything. ( see The Lost Democracy and the Role of Think Tanks 3. ). In this scenario, there is little point of having a parliament at all. Certainly, they do not formulate policies or strategies. Parliament is not the debating chamber as intended.

Recently we even heard that the Prime Minister declined to answer questions at Prime Minister Question Time (4) . The shift of role of our elected representatives from policy makers to tacticians is acknowledged by one of Margaret Thatcher’s own team , now in The House of Lords.

The Thatcherite former chief whip Richard Ryder (now a Tory Lord in the House of Lords) summed up this state of affairs when he said that “George Osborne isn’t a strategist at all, he is a tactician”. In other words, Tory economic strategy is all narrative and no substance.

How much experience do MPs have of the lives of ordinary people? What understanding do the majority of the Cabinet have problems working class people face every day, most of them having been privately educated and many behind the isolated, protected gates of Eton?

Ed Miliband,while still under pressure from Blairites on the right of the Labour Party (especially Progress which is separately funded 6.) , is acutely aware of the need to change the demographic make-up of a party founded to represent the working class:

It was heartening to hear Labour leader Ed Miliband admit there is an urgent need for more MPs from working-class backgrounds in Parliament.

Miliband was answering a question from Lachlan Morrison, a 23-year-old plasterer from Nottingham, at a Q&A at the party conference.

He praised Morrison, a Ucatt member, for his work as a Labour councillor and said: “We need more workers in Parliament. We need to have a more diverse Parliament, particularly in terms of ethnic minorities and working-class backgrounds – we have a responsibility to ensure not just people from middle-class backgrounds get into the election contest.”

Miliband also suggested that 50 per cent of MPs should be women, and conference passed a rule-change that requires selection panels to take class into consideration in the same way they already do for race and gender.

Morrison hopes this spells a new direction for the Labour Party. Report, Morning Star (7.)

Paul Kenny on the role of Progress (8)

Think Left’s analysis of the social make up of MPs, (Becoming a Member of Parliament, 9 ) took into account secondary and tertiary education, gender, and experience as council representatives, and unsurprisingly demonstrated how our representatives in The House of Commons has little “in common” with those they purport to represent.

A very high proportion of Conservative MPs have been educated privately , followed by Oxbridge. While it is important for some of those with power and influence to have technical and scientific knowledge, how many have any awareness at all of people’s lives which qualifies them to govern? Why, when most people are female is our parliament overwhelmingly male? What is liberal about a Liberal Democrat party, which is exclusively white?

We may make our voices heard, but who is listening? Have today’s politicians chosen a career or a vocation? Are they driven by a desire to change the world or themselves? Do they follow in the steps of Aneurin Bevan? Cameron knows and fears the truth might just come out if there were more MPs like Dennis Skinner. When he speaks against the Prime Minister in parliament, out come the jibes. And insults.

Regaining our democracy and attaining true and fair representation for the people is essential if we are to redress the imbalance in society. Apathy is not the answer, cynicism is understandable yet ineffective.

In order to convince people to use the vote so many fought hard for, then they have to be convinced that parliament can really be representative, and just.

Parliament needs committed representatives not careerists.

Parliament needs a greater voice for women.

Parliament needs more working class representatives

Parliament should ensure need a much fairer funding for political parties

Parliament must not permit lobbyists and Think Tanks to be invisible.

The idea of a parliament of the people and for the people might be an old cliche, but it is about time it was enshrined in fact.

References and Further Reading:

1. Red Pepper McKinsey’s Unhealthy Profits (Hat Tip, Paul Bowler)

2. Welfare reform and the US insurance firm Unum , Think Left

3. The Lost Democracy and the Role of Think Tanks, Think Left

4. Politics.Co.Uk : Furious Cameron Refuses to answer Questions at Prime Minister’s Question Time

5. Another Angry Voice, Blog All Narrative and No Substance :

6. Left Futures: GMB Congress to investigate Progress as a Party within a party

7. Morning Star: Where are the Working Class MPs?

9. With : Video Link :

Left Futures : Paul Kenny of role of the influence of Progress and the need for more working class MPs)

9. Becoming a Member of Parliament, Think Left

10 Women as Voters and MPs, Think Left

11. Women in the commons

Omnishambles, Petulance OR Sheer Disregard?


Omnishambles, Petulance OR Sheer Disregard

By Jayne Linney

With so many media articles and accounts about what the current Government is getting wrong, I can’t help but wonder if the Cabinet are guilty. Not only guilty as charged for their mistakes, but perhaps as importantly guilty of the same behaviour and attitude of many people when the Facts show something they don’t like?

A recent example is how everyday more and more people are ‘coming out’, claiming  they ‘knew’ that children and young people were being abused by Jimmy Savile. Only in the past 3 few days there’s been report of Royal Aides, Rock stars; Politicians and even the Sir Roger Jones, chairman of Children in Need from 1999 to 2002 and a BBC governor for Wales from 1997 to 2002, all believing something was ‘not right, or to quote Sir Roger Savile was “creepy”.

This is a clear indicator of how even powerful people, when faced with something they find uncomfortable, choose not to accept it or as Nick Clegg puts it to “turn a blind eye. The problem with this is, eventually we find the issue niggling at us, and we find reasons not to  deal with it; Sir Roger stated his reasons as having “no evidence”. Gestalt, one of the founders of Psychology theories called it Deflection,which can show as choosing not to hear or sei something / misunderstanding or redefining what has been said or done..

I find it hard to accept that had the Police chose, or been allowed to, fully investigate the Savile affair they would not have found plenty of evidence; so why didn’t they?  I can only suppose the psychological  damage to the children and young people who were abused, was considered a better price than the potential fallout of a prosecution of the perpetrator(s) and those colluding with the activities?

On a similar note, I also find it equally difficult to believe the Government does not know exactly the extent of damage their Polices, in particular to the National Economy and  Welfare Reform Act, on the General Public. Evidence of inaccuracies in the purported levels of Debts and the National Deficit are rife, as are examples of how the average family’s income is inadequate to cover their cost of living. The DWP’s latest figures show an average 73 deaths per week resulting from Welfare Reform, supposing those numbers remain static, 3796  mums, dads, brothers, sisters, children will die in the UK 2012, because of One Government Policy (Footnotes for sources)

From this I have to conclude that the Government, and the Cabinet especially, are guilty of  Deflection or at the very least Petulance. This stance is taken particularly by Ministers, who appear only to pleased to overlook even their own evidence of damage as they continue to breeze along,showering more potentially life threatening Cuts upon certain groups of Society, flagrantly ignoring the fact that these are People they are elect to Serve.

But if the Government are Guilty of Deflecting, then so are we the Public; we are happy to campaign in our millions about the threat of badgers being culled, whilst choosing not to accept that amongst Eleven Million People with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability, most are striving to simply survive.

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