The Tragedy of Tom Watson….
Tom Watson recently gave a candid interview too The Guardian; in it he pointed to the huge injustice done to Unite and too Labour by the meddling of the leadership in the Falkirk selection and its exploitation for their own political agenda. I can’t help but feeling reading the interview that the loss of Tom Watson is a huge blow to the Labour election machine and more than that, it poses some worrying problems for politics in general.
Mavericks, individuals with minds of their own tend not to be rewarded well by our rather machine-orientated way of doing politics. Party machines and MP’s tend to have a co-dependent relationship; the finance and organisational support required to win an election are provided by them. Careers are dependent on the ‘good favour’ of the boss, ie, the Party leader and furthermore, MP’s are expected, in theory at least to represent a broad spectrum of opinions (something that is impossible realistically, an MP can never represent all their constituents opinions).
Little incentive therefore exists for politicians to speak out and take a stand. On the face of this many people would see this as a good thing but it is not. It reduces trust in our politics because politicians are structurally coerced into toeing the line. It increases also the alienation of the political process from the individual, affects participation rates and in general is bad for democracy.
Political parties should be spaces for dissent and should be culturally geared too the expression of a thousand different ideas. Individuals who have opinions should not be pariahs or feel they are put in a position where they have to resign. If this does not happen then it may not just be the careers of talented individuals at stake but also the long term health of our political democracy.