Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Peter Oborne should be in favour of breaking the 2 party stranglehold

I like Peter Oborne. He is partially responsible for my decision to get involved in active politics. I read his books "The rise of political lying" and "The triumph of the political class" a while ago and both books helped nudge me a bit further along the road to making the leap from interested of observer to participant. I told him so when I met him the The Convention on Modern Liberty last year.

His analysis of the "political class" as he defines it is compelling reading. It is formed of the people who take political power and patronage for granted and who wish to continue with this self-perpetuated 21st century narcissistic oligarchy within politics and the media. He doesn't however include all MPs within this definition. Only the ones who are part of the establishment. The way that Oborne thinks that the current egregious state of affairs will ultimately be resolved is in the penultimate paragraph of the book:

"It is almost certain therefore, that the next great political movement will come from outside the Political Class. Just as the Political Class has emerged from the wreckage of the party system so it is certain to produce its own antithesis. At some stage a British politician may well discover a new language of public discourse and methodology of political engagement which communicates simply and plainly to voters."

Now does that sound a bit familiar? It almost sounds like what has happened over the last week or so. An outsider not sullied by association with the Labour/Conservative classes that have ruled us for more than half a century has come along and is speaking a language that appears to connect with people. He is talking about breaking up the duopoly of power and privilege and changing the system so that there are no longer safe seats that can be awarded by members of the political classes to their acolytes.

However Mr Oborne does not seem very enthused about this. In an article for the Mail on Tuesday entitled "The Great Liberal Deception" he was very negative about the recent success in the polls of Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems. Although he does not explicitly state it, the tone of the piece seems tilted against electoral reform implying that Peter Mandelson is behind a shady deal for a hung parliament which might lead to this.

Now perhaps this is not so surprising. Oborne is at heart a conservative. However given the sterling work he has done, he must recognise that if we are going to get the sort of changes necessary to shake the political classes out of the comfortable position they have settled into in recent decades, now is the best time for this to happen.

A change to the voting system to eliminate safe seats would be a big step in the right direction for what Oborne ultimately wants to see. Politicians accountable to the people who elect them rather than the parties who select them. And the only way we are going to get this is via a breakthrough by the Lib Dems. The other parties will clearly not do this on their own.

Perhaps Mr Oborne should reflect on this. It's certainly a point I will put to him if I meet him again.

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