Tuesday, November 08, 2005
The press, injcluding many national newspapers an item last week concerning the Electoral Reform Society’s claims that the mayoral election system used in Torbay was in their view ‘flawed’.
The ERS are a pressure group pushing for the introduction of Proportional Representation, views which are supported by just one of the major UK national parties, the Liberal Democrats. The ERS didn’t complain when the Lib Dems won in Watford using the same system in 2002 -I wonder why?
The real problem with the mayoral election in Torbay was not the system used but the fact that the public were offered a ridiculous choice of 14 candidates. Having so many candidates vying for control was a very big turn-off for the public.
This election was a spectacular demonstration of the power of individual ambition to derail a common goal if ever there was one. Because there was not even a scintilla of co-operation amongst the independents their impact was dissipated –and therefore totally ineffective.
This characteristic is repeated by independent councillors when in office, I’m afraid. Hung councils and councils run by independent groups statistically have a poor track record, delivering poorer services and higher than average taxes.
The reason party politics has evolved over the last 300 years is to give the public a clear choice of ideas at election time, and thereafter provide co-ordinated political activity which results in clear, focussed delivery.
Political parties are not -as many people claim 'machines' - we don't live in China! Our parties are voluntary associations of free-minded people who share a set of basic values. Sure, we disagree with each other on the details from time to time, but on balance we believe and demonstrate that by acting together we can achieve more than by acting alone.
In Torbay we have demonstrated very well what happens when the Party system breaks down – chaos, confusion and inertia.
What Torbay really needs is not a band of independents (who are all too often simply Party renegades or re-treads from the past) but rather some new blood inside our political Parties – credible and vibrant people prepared to fight their side of the argument to make Torbay a better place and for whom the public will be happy to place their trust and their vote.
With my colleague Nick Bye bringing his open style into local politics and (hopefully) David Cameron bringing a fresh outlook and new leadership to the Conservative party nationally I am sure that, in the Blue corner at least, things are on the move.
New members are very welcome!