Rotten Boroughs, Rogues, 150 MPs ... All Have to Go; CRUNCH TIME; Vince Cable Spells out a Controversial Ten-Point Plan to Save Our Democracy

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), September 20, 2009 | Go to article overview

Rotten Boroughs, Rogues, 150 MPs ... All Have to Go; CRUNCH TIME; Vince Cable Spells out a Controversial Ten-Point Plan to Save Our Democracy


Byline: Vince Cable

The conference season is here again, with three weeks of wall-to-wall speeches and countless fringe meetings on every issue under the sun. For the thousands of party workers, these are the climax of the political year. I still get a buzz from our own Liberal Democrat party conference, which gets the season under way this coming week in Bournemouth.

I remember my first few times - being awestruck by the famous names I encountered and nervously memorising my unmemorable contributions to obscure debates. It is important for the big names to thank and listen to the grassroots workers: the people who give their time and commitment, usually without reward. But beneath the razzmatazz and in the margins of meetings, there will be a sense of unease that politics, in general, has a bad name - that politicians are no longer trusted by the public and even that British democracy is in some danger. Party conferences reflect that wider political crisis. All the main parties are struggling to maintain membership and the activist base is getting older. A typical working person can no longer afford a week off in a hotel and has increasingly been replaced by the well-heeled and the professional business lobbyists.

Much of the genuine passion has gone. The older generation will remember those dramatic Labour debates about public ownership and nuclear disarmament, Liberal leader Jo Grimond's stirring oratory about Europe and Conservative chairman Hailsham ringing his bell.

My own party maintains a tradition of contested, unpredictable debate. But, for the most part, conferences are now rallies where the leadership performs, mainly for a television audience, and the biggest uncertainty is the length of the standing ovation.

What politicians must do in the next few weeks is work out, with their party members, how to restore public confidence and enthusiasm in party politics. The challenge is clear. Millions no longer bother to vote.

I recently visited a Midlands city where an important council by-election saw a turnout of less than one in ten. Many people who are still interested in politics channel their time and energy into single-issue campaigns and protests, not parties. The poisonous residue of the expenses scandal still pollutes Parliament. There is a worrying drumbeat of extremist politics on the angry fringes, with fascist parties such as the BNP making inroads.

As for my contribution, I will suggest a ten-point plan to counter the decline of democratic politics.

1. Reform party funding. It is dangerous and corrupting for parties to depend on large donations from rich donors with a dodgy past, who evade taxes and try to buy influence. Some donors are honourable; others expect favours to be returned. There have to be strict limits on individual donations and limits on party spending between, as well as during, elections.

2. Cut the cost of politics. Despite the recent scandals, I believe that most MPs do an important job representing their constituents, holding government to account and legislating. But we don't need 646 MPs and 740 unelected Lords, when the United States, five times bigger, has 535 Congressmen and Senators.

We should cut 150 MPs and elect a smaller second chamber. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Rotten Boroughs, Rogues, 150 MPs ... All Have to Go; CRUNCH TIME; Vince Cable Spells out a Controversial Ten-Point Plan to Save Our Democracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.