New politics requires a new breed of MP…..
I have tried desperately hard not to join in the criticism of Louise Mensch because I have little doubt some of it is informed by out-and-out misogyny. However, having said that, Ms Mensch’s continued todying before all forms of vested interest that pass her way, presumably in some vainglorious quest for rapid promotion, make non-criticism impossible. Today, she was out on manuevers defending Sayeeda Warsi but we all know she has previous form rushing to aid Mr Murdoch’s cause. Furthermore, the idiocy and prejudice of some her critics should not shield her from legitimate criticism.
Maybe Ms Mensch feels that obsessive fawning is the only way for her to get noticed and I have some sympathy for her in this, it is quite clear that being white, male and having a bank balance over a certain weight makes you over qualified for gaining the ear of this government. However, that ultimately doesn’t excuse her behaviour. In fact, she epitomises in so many ways what is wrong with politics and why politicians are held in such low regard. She seems to have no informing principle but the will to further her own career with the ethos of public service and the needs of her constituents come a distant second.
In all fairness she, along with the rest of the semi-automatons that populate Westminster are not helped by the system. How often do you see an MP promoted to Cabinet (or even Shadow Cabinet) because of solid and dedicated constituency work? Not often (if ever) is the correct answer. They are promoted for a dedicated ability to parrot the Party line and vote the right way. It is fair enough that MP’s are whipped too and expected to implement their manifesto commitments (though let’s be honest, political parties rarely do that either) since they were elected on that platform, however, looser whipping would be one solid practicable reform we could institute now. Stronger select committees with greater powers of scrutiny (and the ability to call to account those higher up the food chain) would be another practical measure to strengthen the legislature.
However, the change we need goes deeper than that, we need to start think about selecting and electing a new breed of MP. We need strong, independent-minded people to enter our legislature who are prepared to put public service first and their own career second. This would mean drawing our candidate pool from a much more diverse set of backgrounds than we currently do. It is all very well people criticising the political class but we still are the ones with the power to change that both as activists within our respective parties and also as voters. We can still be the change that politics needs and ensure the likes of Ms Mensch are the ones who are the exception not the rule.