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What Do You Expect Our Politicians To Do?


Chinahand
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We need an end to managerial government. Its a huge fudge of a system - elect people then try and make them fit into pre-determined ministerial roles. Its absurd.

 

Public servants should be held to account my relevant committees of Tynwald, not be shielded by their unaccountable ministers.

 

Unless my memory does me a disservice, the Ministerial system introduced in 1986(?) by Sir Miles Walker was designed to produce more accountability. Out went the old "Fudge and Forget" Boards of Government, to be replaced by Government Departments, each headed by a "Buck Stops Here" Minister. What has gone wrong? The system appears to still be in place......but the Department Ministers in some cases appear to have no control over their respective Depts. (D.O.I. perhaps being the most outstanding example IMHO) or in some cases, willingness to accept the responsibility of the position (PARTICULARLY WHEN THINGS GO WRONG.......) Maybe they need reminding of exactly what it is they're paid to do........? Or are their Civil Servants simply running the show (and rings around them)...?

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In another thread someone mentioned making Tynwald sit only in the afternoons and reduce the amount of "holidays" to encourage different types of people to stand. That too may widen the candidate pool.

 

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How do we achieve this? EORH has suggested an island wide constituency, would this work?

 

I like the idea of more time spent sitting over shorter sessions. Not just becuase it might attract more people, but because it might help prevent the now almost inevitable rushed debates and crammed schedules.

 

Not too sure how an Island wide constituency would work. One problem I see is that instead of Island wide politics, we'd just see a narrower range of parish politics: Those who carry Douglas+Onchan are likely to get in every time, with maybe a couple of candidates 'representing' the South sneaking in, and it's natural that candidates would concentrate their attention nearly entirely on these areas.

 

The other problem is that I'm not sure how much effect it would really have. You raise the example of the UK as an example of politicians having to appeal to a broader range, but does that actually happen? Despite the larger populations and excepting the occasional upset such as the first labour landslide, the current hung parliament, and the Lib Dem collapse in the Scottish elections, a large number of UK constituencies are fairly homogenous and predictable. Each party has its core support, which it depends upon, and the individual candidate dedicates their efforts towards winning over a relatively small group of swing voters - instances where they have to seriously work at reaching across ideological boundaries are comparitively rare.

 

An Island wide vote would essentially be like a single constituency in the UK that happens to turn out 24 candidates, and as such I don't think it's far fetched to suggest that a possible result would be an even greater reduction in the variety of candidates than we already see under the present system. Whilst we don't have the same kind of partisan divisions or indeed a party system as does the UK, it's feasible that the effect of an Island wide vote would be to intensify the influence of a particular grouping: if said grouping was large but mainly concentrated in one or two areas, then under the current system their influence would in the main be restricted to the representatives of those areas. However, under an Island wide election they suddenly form a very large body of voters with potentital influence over all candidates and one that is only going to be confronted by the bravest of politicians - something which should be remembered by anyone who's in favour of dramatic cuts to the public sector workforce or the benefits system.

 

Another potential problem is the risk of election fatigue: are people really going to be willing to pour over the details of sixty or more manifestos and listen to every interview? Are they going to be even more likely to just go with what and who they know due to the bewildering array of alternative candidates?

 

Any other ideas how we can persuade us voters to change our priorities come polling day and in future get more people willing to put their names forward for election?

 

If I'm honest, I'm fairly cynical about change coming naturally any time soon. It would require a sudden and dramatic shift in the Island's political consciousness and culture: substantial change and reform tends only to come about in times after a severe crisis sets in (currently we're still at the stage of the threat) and acts as a catalyst. As such, I think we're probably going to have to wait until a lot of people really start to feel things hit them before any kind of enthusiasm for politics manifests, either in the form of participation of the electorate or people standing.

 

Other than that, we need a decent media providing serious political coverage and analysis on a regular basis, rather than what we currently have, and it probably wouldn't hurt to increase the level of education of our political system present in schools. I don't know if it's changed, but when I was a kid we were taught nothing of substance about our political system whatsoever, or our laws, tradition, constitution and history - as such it's not much of a wonder that an awful lot of people don't have a sense of the Island as a political entity and regard it as a glorified town council not worthy of any great attention. I know I grew up that way and was much the same untill I started coming on here and reading the threads in the local news section.

 

Continuing on the subject of encouraging different types of candidates to stand and improving the political scene on the Island, I do think that we suffer because we have no real centre of higher education (and, what's worse, the government doesn't support residents sitting OU degrees). Now that is not in any way to say that I think university graduates make better politicians, because I don't and have argued as much plenty of times. However, higher education does tend to create and act as a focal point of political discussion, not least by generating a sizeable domestic professional class who have both ties to their home and an interest in political affairs.

 

The situation with the Island is that by necessity we export a lot of home grown graduates and import a lot from elsewhere, a sizeable proportion of which only intending to stay here for a while and thus having little interest in the finer points of the Island's politics. I'd say that the result of this is that overall we're missing a large aspect of what other countries take for granted as being an integral part of the political culture. As such we're possibly missing out on the full range of perspectives and opinions that exist and contribute to politics elsewhere - even if you were to disagree with those opinions they are nevertheless useful because they challenge your own views which in turn can result in a further refinement and strengthening of them.

Edited by VinnieK
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Any other ideas how we can persuade us voters to change our priorities come polling day and in future get more people willing to put their names forward for election?

 

Economic policies mights be be good. Something like this ...

 

.... some candidates would say something like "we believe that this is the direction which the island should be going in. Look, we've costed it out here are the numbers. We believe we have a strong sense of how the island as an institution should fit in with the rest of the world and other institutions moving forward and we believe we can make it work." That might prompt another bunch of candidates to say something like "well we agree / disagree with some of that. This is how we see things going and what we think should be done .... "

 

Policies and counter policies are about forming some sense of what the talking points should be, what the issues are etc. Listening to people talking (or reading what they write) about the key economic issues is also a good way of getting a sense of their relative strengths.

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