Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Politicians Must Listen to the Needs of Voters; Opinion

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Politicians Must Listen to the Needs of Voters; Opinion

Article excerpt

IS IT just me or is David Cameron trying to sound a bit like Churchill? Recently the PM said: "Britain stands on the brink of exciting democratic change." He enjoins us, in that increasingly over-patronising style of his, to go out and vote in referenda on the issue of elected city mayors: "This is it - one moment, one chance. One day when you can change the course of your city."

Our PM, of course, shares the all-too-common misconception that elections necessarily confer democracy.

He believes that electing another tier of officials in an inherently undemocratic local government system will "breathe life into local politics".

Only those that have no interest in current affairs will not know that currently there is huge lack of interest in party politics yet an increasing interest in issues. This leads us to ask when was the last time we saw a significant move away from party politics and what was the result? After all, large organisations are fond of repeating the mantra of "lessons learnt".

The answer, in this case, goes back to 1942 when it was a common theme of political discussion during that period that the House of Commons was out of touch with public opinion.

A growing view at that time was that none of the existing parties could fulfil the wishes of the public.

The most tangible evidence of the movement away from party politics came with a three by-election victories for independent candidates in the first half of 1942, shortly after the disastrous fall of Singapore. The first of these was at Grantham where the official Conservative candidate was defeated by an independent candidate polling 11,758 votes, giving him the narrow majority of 367 votes on a 45% turnout.

A slightly more comfortable lead was built up by the second of the independents, William J Brown, at the end of April. A well-known figure, Brown defeated the chairman of the local Conservative Association in Rugby. "Men of action don't give the enemy comfort," had been Tory slogan on the hustings with the claim that a vote for the independent would satisfy only Hitler. …

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