The Times are a Changing.
Politically I’m probably what people would call an armchair activist. My political awakening has occurred since the 2010 elections as I became aware of the injustices of the coalition government. An Open University course led to me doing a project on fairness and all I could see was the unfairness from the government. Me being me, came up with some ‘ideas’ on how things could be fairer.
After a few weeks of listening to Prime Ministers Question Time on the radio while at work I think the first thing that needs changing is the rudeness. They sound like farmyard animals, jeering, heckling, and the SNP’s new to parliament were chastised for being civilised and clapping. While it may be custom to act like schoolroom bullies it has no place in a modern, civilised society. Not only that but the way they attempt to deflect questions by just insulting the other party and it’s members, take things out of context to try to besmirch the character of the opposition. I was particularly offended by David Cameron’s comments about those who were opposed to dropping bombs on innocent people referring to them as ‘Terrorist Sympathisers’. Blatantly accusing someone of being a ‘threat to national security’ when they are elected as leader of an opposition party is disgusting, especially as all they want to do is talk to all sides and try to come up with a peaceful solution.
I realised that most politicians are completely out of touch with the ordinary folk and the difficulties they experience. To remedy this I think that when a candidate becomes elected as an MP their first 3 months needs to be practical experience. They have to live in an area of high unemployment, social housing and they only get jobseekers to look after their family. No car, no furniture except what they can beg or borrow, no money from mummy and daddy. They have to live exactly as the normal person lives, see the struggle to make ends meet, the over eagerness of the Job Centre to sanction people because their bus is late, or they apply for too many jobs, or not enough or refuse a work placement as they simply can’t afford to get there. How long before they surrender and agree that it’s too harsh?
Ok so maybe the above isn’t practical or feasible, but I’d still like to see the MP who claims it is ‘easy’ to live on £7.00 a day prove it and show us how. They’d soon see how much of a life choice being unemployed and poor really is. The thing about being poor is that many have to buy cheap products, shoes, clothing, furniture, buying cheap is generally false economy. If you buy a pair of shoes for £10.00 you probably have to replace them at least 3 times in a year. The person who pays £40.00 for a pair probably still has them two years later. Now the chancellor of the exchequer may think that this is great for the economy making people spend more but it really isn’t as they ‘cheap’ items are made in 3rd world countries by children in sweatshops and the only people who profit are the factory owners and large company importers, who more than likely have offshore accounts so they don’t pay any UK tax. British companies can’t afford to compete and therefore go out of business, steelworks being just the latest example.
What changes might be practical then? Psychology is one of my passions and after taking A level at nightschool and managing to get an A I have studied the subject through the Open University. This lead me to the thought that prospective MP’s should have to undertake a psychiatric evaluation before being allowed to take a position of any power? Some professions have to do this before being allowed practice so why shouldn’t MP’s whose actions and decisions have life altering effects on many people. Being assessed to see if a politician is a psychopath may have prevented WW2 and Adolf Hitler. If professional psychologists aware of the following attributes of a psychopath in a parliamentary candidate they can hopefully prevent a tragedy occurring.
Robert Hare’s Checklist of Psychopathy Symptoms:
- GLIB AND SUPERFICIAL CHARM— the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. He can also be a great listener, to simulate empathy while zeroing in on his targets’ dreams and vulnerabilities, to be able to manipulate them better.
- GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH— a grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.
- NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM— an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.
- PATHOLOGICAL LYING— can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative and dishonest.
- CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS: the use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.
- LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT: a lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.
- SHALLOW AFFECT: emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness and superficial warmth.
- CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY: a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.
- PARASITIC LIFESTYLE: an intentional, manipulative, selfis, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline and the inability to carry through one’s responsibilities.
- POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS: expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.
- PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR:a variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of numerous, multiple relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity (rape) or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits and conquests.
- EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS:a variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use and running away from home.
- LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS:an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.
- IMPULSIVITY:the occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations and momentary urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic and reckless.
- IRRESPONSIBILITY:repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.
- FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS:a failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.
- MANY SHORT-TERM RELATIONSHIPS:a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including in marital and familial bonds.
- JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.
- REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE: a revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation or failing to appear.
- CRIMINAL VERSATILITY:a diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes or wrongdoings.
Already I can identify some of those traits in current MP’s and I’m sure you can too. A proper evaluation would identify how far along the scale they are.
CRB checks on all working in parliament should be mandatory, after all anyone who works with vulnerable adults and children have to have one. Also any politician under investigation for a criminal offence should be suspended without pay until they are proved innocent and if they are innocent their pay will be refunded. Any of their constituents issues that they are dealing with can be passed to another MP in their party for bringing up in parliament. If they are guilty they should lose their jobs, as any member of the police would if they committed a crime. As in many other professions random drug testing should be mandatory. Any ‘prescribed’ medication which may influence drug tests should be declared when prescribed.
Benefits (although MP’s call them expenses) should be means tested as any welfare, benefit an ordinary person has to claim is. If an MP earns over a certain amount (as many have other sources of income on top of their pay allowance) they should not be allowed to claim expenses, such as underpants, heating stables, cleaning a moat. Or a second home if they already have a home in London or are in reasonable commuting distance. Only those in genuine need should get these expenses, the same as ordinary people getting benefits. They should also be docked pay if they do not attend parliament to represent their constituents during important debates, a minimum working week ie 40 hours not including commuting time should also be enforced.
Talking of representing their constituents, I firmly believe that MP’s should represent the people who voted for them. Any important vote such as the recent Syria bombing should take into consideration what the people want, not what the MP or his political party wants. Jeremy Corbyn was exactly right in emailing all party members to find out their views. A simple yes/no vote and a full explanation of what the MP feels the vote should be. Now I do realise that not everyone has internet or email, but providing media coverage and asking those who don’t have internet to use the library facilities is a very economical way of consulting everyone. An MP could then let people know the survey results ie 75% against bombing and vote accordingly. Jeremy Corbyn allowing his party a ‘free vote’ instead of forcing them to vote the way he wanted is an extremely democratic way of doing things.
Lies. Why is it a crime to lie in court and yet politicians seem to do it every time their mouths open? It really really needs to be a crime to lie in parliament. How can MP’s decide what the best policy is if they are not in possession of the full facts. MP’s who have lied in parliament or to their constituents in order to be elected or on their c.v.’s should be thrown out of office. What sort of example are they setting to the public if they, those in power, feel it is perfectly acceptable to lie to get their own way?
Then of course there is ‘filliblustering’, whereby an MP talks until the allotted time for a debate on a particular subject is up and then it has to be shelved. Wrong, Wrong Wrong especially when it is on minor changes like teaching first aid in schools and carers getting free parking in hospitals.
I never saw the point of the House of Lords before the Tax Credits debate and they stood up for the ordinary person and stopped the cuts. I’m sure they don’t always but on this occasion they did and I was glad to have them on side. Although from what I have seen in the media the government wants to take away what few powers they have and if they do that there will be no point in having them. What is annoying though is that the majority of the Lords are very wealthy already and yet they get paid just for turning up.
The houses of parliament themselves are extremely old and in need of repairs. Personally I believe it would be more economical to close them, turn them over to National Trust or English Heritage and allow the public in for a fee which they of course could then use to refurbish it. The government really does not need to be in old buildings, decisions can be made in a modern one, instead of two sides facing each other a page out of mythology may be a better way and have a ‘round table’.
Whatever my views – and those above are just my personal views, change IS coming. The current voting system is undemocratic and unfair and there are calls from all sides and walks of life for change. The thing is in the past 15 years access to information is at your fingertips. No longer do you have to rely on the biased Newspapers and television news, Google is your friend. It is easy for people to access views such as this, about momentum https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/george-woods/momentum-are-being-attacked-because-they-threaten-westminsters-consensus
This shows that the grassroots, the people are seeing through the pomp and bluster of politics and are eager for a more honest, democratic way. Some have tried to claim that people get a ‘distorted’ view from the internet as they tend to only look at things that follow their beliefs but I’m sure there are many, like me, who like to see both sides of the argument and make their own minds up. Too many are claiming that this surge in political awareness is just a fad and just young people who’ll get bored eventually. The young people of today are the voters of tomorrow and they will REMEMBER how they are treated now.
And those who don’t bend with the wind, those who fight against it may find it is already too late and the writing is on the wall for them.
Damn I love clichés J, I think they are puntastic. I just wish my laptop would realiSe that I’m not American and don’t spell everything with a Z so it doesn’t need to autocorrect all the time – or tell me I’m wrong.