Friday, 13 May 2016

Let's keep politics out of politics!!

I was intrigued by a letter in today’s Echo by Peter Lovett who stood as an Independent in West Shoebury last week and only narrowly lost. He commented “It is a shame that politics plays a part in councils and with UKIP holding the balance of power, it will lead to deals that are not necessary (sic) the best option for residents or where people even have input”.

This is really quite a bizarre comment and emphasises the fault line running through the campaign which has been run by Independents across the town for some years and with no little success. It panders to the general “anti politician” view among the public but does not stand up to closer examination.

Politics is surely the process of making decisions which apply to the wider community. Without politics there would be no democratic process. It is also inevitable that in all politics, whether within parties or across different parties, there will be the need for discussion, negotiation, compromise and occasionally argument because we do not all agree – life would be boring if we did. This process usually leads to “deals” as if not there would be no agreement and nothing would get done. To suggest that just because the local electorate have placed UKIP in the position to be involved in some of those “deals” the process is flawed cannot be right.

Of course it may be that in fact Mr Lovett’s real beef is against party politics rather than politics itself. This is in my view another fallacy circulated in recent years by the Independent Group. Party politics and politicians give an often disinterested public a shorthand account of a candidates core beliefs and priorities which are then supplemented by any personal attributes and specific and personal policies which they spell out. If I vote for a Labour or Conservative candidate then I know in general terms where they are likely to stand on issues such as state intervention, tax rates etc. If I vote for an Independent I know about their personal attributes and specific core beliefs (if they have bothered to tell me in their election material) but if elected have absolutely no idea on where they stand on a range of other fundamentally important issues. They are asking for a blank cheque which is hardly democratic. This is even worse when, as in Southend, they form an effective party where they have the restrictions of party membership but with no common or agreed core values.

So I remain a strong supporter of both politics and party politics at a local level and whilst agree that on occasions a one issue Independent has an important role this farce of a formal Independent Party/Group(s) is the real risk to accountable politics.

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