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This is what is Wrong with Politics

Posted on 24th June 2014

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This story really illustrates what is broken with our political systems.

The story describes complaints of how, so public opinion believes, politicians of all parties are using the National Health Service (NHS) as a pawn in their politics: designing policies simply to win votes, rather than doing what is actually best for the NHS.

The basic problem is that, for these politicians, being in politics is their career, leading then inevitably to act to get re-elected, rather than in the best interests of the country, let alone the world, so that they can keep their jobs.

One of the side-effects of this situation is that voter choice is undermined: the policies of most parties are often indistinguishable from each other, when it comes to what should be key election issues. Of course, when a party gets elected, what they actually do bears no relation the the policies touted at election time. There are loads of ready made excuses: other more urgent issues, financial constraints (blamed on the previous government), bowing to "overwhelming public opinion", political interference from the EU, the results of studies by experts, etc.

One way to reduce some of these undemocratic practices would be to have more referenda, like they do in Switzerland and California. This would allow the separation of decisions on policy (dealt with in referenda) from decisions on who implements the policies (the elected government).

Another way (perfectly compatible with the use of referenda) would be to bring an end to the existence of career politicians. What is wrong with a system akin to that used for jury service. People in private business, science, charities and even the military could be appointed, based on the skills, experience and track record, to serve a fixed term in government, after which they are guaranteed their old job back.

Without some radical changes to our political systems, our democracies are essentially broken. There is so much corruption, so many vested interests, so many people elected based on how much money they spend to get elected, and so many people elected on the basis of personalities rather than policies. Most worryingly, there are huge amounts of cowardice amongst politicians: they are not willing to make those unpopular but necessary decisions, for fear of losing the next election.

Time for a change, I think.