Currently, my local paper, the Lincolnshire Free Press, allows my local MP, John Hayes (Cons), a weekly column, called “Hayes in the House”, in which John Hayes is allowed to say whatever he fancies, regardless of whether or not he’s addressing the real issues affecting people locally, such as access to affordable housing, healthcare, social care, adequate funding for policing and anti-social behaviour, decent rail and road infrastructure, addressing the impact of years of unplanned, under-resourced provision for migrant labour, etc, or even how he’s doing in terms of delivering on the personal promises he made in order to get elected.
Let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves, “What do we pay our MPs to do for us?” The answer is we pay our MPs to use their working hours to consider the very best interests of their constituents and the nation as whole, and then act accordingly. This is the fundamental basis of representative Parliamentary democracy.
But what do most MPs actually do today? They vote according to how their party Whips tell them to vote. This is the antithesis of representative Parliamentary democracy.
So, what has happened to the principle that MPs are supposed to represent the best interests of their constituents and the nation as a whole? Answer: it has been lost in the mist of career self-interest and party-political whipping. For instance, which Conservative MP would conceivably vote against the iniquitous ‘bedroom tax’, even if they knew there were insufficient one-bedroomed flats available in their local constituency or across the country, given that voting against the bedroom tax would mean them losing their ministerial salary or undermining their Parliamentary career? Indeed, they wouldn’t and didn’t.
So, what’s the answer? It’s actually very simple. All we need to do is insist on a small extension to The Recall of MPs Act 2015 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recall_of_MPs_Act_2015) to extend the basis of recall from “a custodial prison sentence, suspension from the House ordered by the Committee on Standards, or providing false or misleading expenses claims” to failing, unreasonably, to deliver on the promises MPs make to voters in order to get elected.
The great benefit of this approach is that newspaper proprietors and editors, like Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre, will no longer have any influence over our MPs, as our MPs will be focusing instead on the very best interests of their constituents and the nation as a whole.
Author: Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings is a management consultant specialising in the field of Organisational Performance Management. He has led programmes of major change and sustainable improvement with public, private and third sector organisations for over thirty years. He is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University School of Management, a Visiting Scholar at Heriot-Watt University School of Management and a member of the European Movement nationally and in Lincolnshire.
All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Conservative Group for Europe or the European Movement.