You want to vote

If your potential future leader was Daenerys Targaryen, you would register to vote, right?  I mean the leader of your city, your constituency, YOUR Member of Parliament (MP).  Someone you can actually vote directly for and go to with your problems and ideas.

Stuff trying to choose between Cameron and Miliband.  Boring!  And your vote has almost no chance of changing that as it depends on how people in the other 649 seats vote.

But if you could have an MP who would listen to you, vigorously defend your rights and challenge the government to do better – for YOU…  wouldn’t that be worth registering to vote and then casting your ballot for?

I plan to be that kind of MP.

I have no interest in politics for politic’s sake.  I’d much rather risk crashing and burning my political career trying to achieve a brave new world (no tuition fees, equal opportunities for all, fair taxation and benefits, an NHS with the resources it needs), than tip-toe around currying favour in the hope of a ministerial position, double my salary and getting a cushy pension.

On the 7th May 2015, you get your one and only say on central government of the UK in 5 years.  You can vote for your local councillors most years, but this year, it is a General Election.

It is time to choose the 650 MPs “representatives of the people” we want to sit in the House of Commons and decide policy for our country – how much tax to put on beer, hot food, cars, petrol, your income.  These people choose what it is important to spend your tax money on and what will be cut back.  They are responsible for ensuring you are safe from terrorists, climate change and free to live your life.

Most of the candidates you will see will be Party Candidates. Political parties such as Conservative, Labour, UKIP have a huge memberships.  They choose who will stand as their candidate for each seat, do much of their publicity and write the manifesto – what the party promises to do if elected (these promises do not have to be remotely possible, and they rarely keep them).

While most candidates are supported by a party, they are supposed to act for their constituents first.  I am standing as an Independent so that I never have to choose between what is best for the Party and what is best for you.

It is important that you can trust your local MP to put your best interests first.  All of our best interests first. Regardless of their party.

Once elected all MP’s sit in the House of Commons and vote on proposed changes to how our country is run, whether they are “in government” or not.

The party which wins the most seats forms the Government and appoints ministers, such as the Minster for Education and the Chancellor (who sets the budget).

If no party manages to get an overall majority, the biggest parties will try to form a team with smaller parties and the Independent MPs, until they have a team big enough to make a majority (as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did in 2010).

The Prime Minister is (strictly speaking) appointed by the Queen as the person who can command that majority team and be the leader of the government.

All you have to do, is to register to vote (here), and then choose the candidate who you believe will be the best.  

Your elected representative will be voting on your behalf on hundreds of issues over the next 5 years.  They need to be a good and strong person in their own right.

If you do not vote, nobody will never know who you thought would be the best and we will all be worse off for that.

What you think; matters. Please register to vote.


Just another “meme”?

I was quickly informed by friends, soon after sharing this image on my personal Facebook, that this is “just another meme”.  While it is obviously very easy to fake this kind of graphic it still received some interesting comments, which are worth airing.  This general statement:

“Its faked. The images have been edited to make a false point.”

While this Spectator article explains where the lower images come from I, personally, am not sure that this renders the point being made as “false”, especially as some, if not all, of the top nine images are in fact accurate (although possibly taken at a misleading point in the debate).  The bottom two pictures are definately falsely claimed to be about MP’s pay and expenses, however, the only image I could find when looking for a true image of MP’s debating their wage or expenses was this one (the original article is no longer available but the image meta data says “BBC News, Politics, Commons debate on MP’s expenses”).  mps expenses debate bbc

Yes, putting together fake graphics ruins the argument, particularly for those who already take what is posted on the internet with a pinch of salt (especially if we have time to check references), but the question still remains:

  •  If a study were performed on MP’s attendance on issues which affect them personally versus issues which affect the poorer >90% of the UK population I wonder if the point would still be “false”?

On a more thoughtful note, I also saw this from a friend who is a very active and brilliant councillor in Sheffield:

“What’s interesting is how quick people are to share it without even questioning whether it is true. I recall someone saying recently that part of the problem with out political system is how politicians interact with the people, but another problem is how the people interact with politicians.  If we expect scum, that’s what we’ll probably get.”

I think that people’s eagerness to share this image stems from a number of issues, and most certainly from the expectation that MP’s do not represent the interests of their constituents.  You could argue that this our own fault for voting for them, but that is really only valid if the alternative candidates were significantly different.  If this experience has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that it is very challenging to run an election campaign if you have to work a full-time job and do not have a party to pay for mailshots (very roughly £50,000 per shot, how much better spent could that money be in Reading West?).

Our current system is weighted very heavily in favour of the big parties with the big money from private donors to support campaigning, whose MP’s subsequently have their sponsoring party’s interests, and their donors interests, on their agenda, which could compete with the interests of their constituents.  For example: banning private funding for election campaigns (and political parties?) would dramatically alter the choice of candidates and open the field to smaller parties not supported by big business or wealthy individuals.  This would surely deliver a far more representative democracy, but would weaken the big party’s grip on power, so we rarely hear about this idea.  (There is a great TED talk by Larry Lessig about a campaign in the states to get the money out of politics.)

In short; this meme, is not, in my opinion a menace, because it either makes us chuckle, it makes us question our information sources, or it makes us stop and think about our political system and consider what we might do to improve it.  No doubt many MPs are busy being good, productive MPs in select committees, meeting constituents, taking part in a Westminster Hall debate, running an all-party parliamentary group meeting, briefing journalists, plotting a rebellion with colleagues or working in their office when they are not sitting in the House in debate.  But if it weren’t for people seeing this image and thinking “I knew it, check this out folks” then this meme would not exist.  #timeforchange