Taking the Party out of Politics
Season 2, Ep. 22
Citizens' Assemblies: +/- 100 people, representing a balanced cross-section of society, learning about an important issue, agreeing on what action should be taken.Literally representing all of us.Learning on behalf of all of us. Thinking on behalf of all of us. Agreeing on what action is needed ... on behalf of all of us.Reporting back to us, with what they have learned. Showing us why their recommendations make sense. Reporting back to our government, with what they have learned. Showing our government why their recommendations make sense.Is our Government grown up enough to listen? Or do the members of our Government really believe that they are the only ones who can know anything, can understand anything, or can take any decisions on our behalf?
Season 2, Ep. 21
ProtestA crucial part of our democratic process. A way for citizens who are not embedded in the political process to engage with politics, to let others know what is important to them, and to let the government know how they feel.There needs to be a balance. It would not be appropriate for terrorists to hold the country to ransom. But does the new government Bill (which seeks to restrict the right to protest) hit the right balance?We explore how protest works, and how important it is, by exploring the success - and the techniques - of XR (Extinction Rebellion), who have successfully pushed the issue of Climate Change (or, the Climate Emergency) up the agenda for all of us, including for government. With input from Kathie Conn and Merijn van der Geer, from XR.
The Blunders of Our Governments
Season 2, Ep. 20
BLUNDERS: things which went wrong, which were foreseeable, but which the government did anyway.A very strong executive (government) makes it possible for policies to get rushed into place, without proper checks or thinking.No consensus + No consultation = Ineffective policiesBehavioural causes of BLUNDERS:IgnorancePrejudiceLack of judgement.Lack of appropriate/relevant experienceNo rewards or sanctionsOver confidenceCarelessStubbornCultural Gap: don't understand votersStructural causes of BLUNDERS:Poorly designed decision-making processes.Deficit of deliberation – too efficient & decisive; scrutiny disempowered.Operational disconnect.Professional politicians haven't run anything. No long-term responsibilityParliament – becomes a bit of an irrelevant spectator.Whips ensure that Parliament is not able to rein in this behaviour.Scrutiny committees are disempowered by party loyalties, and by ministers either pressuring their fellow party members or simply bypassing the scrutiny process – and sometimes parliament itself – altogether.Public accounts committee (actually one of the most useful bits of what Westminster does) only checks on activity after the fact.All of that does not add up to a recipe for good government.
The Separation of Powers and the Conflicting Pressures on MPs
Season 2, Ep. 19
Too much power in one set of hands risks that all that power might run away with itself, rather than being used for the general good.The “Separation of powers" protects political liberty by dividing government powers.The legislative is ParliamentThe executive is the Government, and the Civil ServiceHowever, the Government is also a subset of the Parliament.Problem 1: A log jamIf the executive is from party, and the legislative is dominated by another (e.g. in the UK) everything the President (executive) tries to do can be blocked by Congress (legislative)Problem 2: Too much unrestrained powerThe government and ministers are able to push through new laws and plans without proper reflection and consultation, because their own party in Parliament doesn't want to cause too many waves.Problem 3: Conflict of Interest for MPsAn MP is expected to scrutinize what Government does.BUT: the only way to get promoted is to follow the 'party line'.How much meaningful scrutiny of their own party do you think that MPs really do?
The Wicked Issues
Season 2, Ep. 18
The Wicked Issues are the things which are really important, but which don’t get dealt with.Climate Change. Saving for retirement. etcOur MPs believe that the short-term challenges of dealing with the Wicked Issues mean they won't get re-elected.Any MP who says that we should invest now (to save money or difficulties later) is an easy target for the media and for the opposition.Easy to say that they are irresponsible - even though they are actually being responsible!Like NOT eating healthy food, or NOT getting some exercise, NOT dealing with The Wicked Issues just makes them harder to deal with later on.But our MPs are wrong.We aren't that shallow.In 1997, Labour was elected on a promise to tax us more, so that there would be more money for the NHS.We recognised that this was the right thing to do.How do we make it clear to our representatives that we do want them to take on The Wicked Issues ... before they get even worse?
Taking the Party out of Politics
Season 2, Ep. 17
The MediaIndependent Perspective or a Spotlight which burns too brightly?Journalists take pot shots from the side lines, but if they really knew better than our elected politicians, why aren't they standing for election?Grabbing your attention!The pressure of grabbing the headline, of getting the perfect soundbite, of analysing and speculating before the announcement, all in the overexposure of a 24 hour news cycle.Too much power in too few hands.It can seem as though we have different newspapers, TV and radio stations, but actually an awful lot of it is owned by just a few companies and people.Digital MediaIt can seem as though we are by passing the 'controlled' media, but actually we end up with no filter, no quality control, and so we end up listening to certain sources - we create our own control, in our own internet bubble.Bad news sells. If it bleeds, it leads.It can be hard to have a sense of perspective, but every day, billions of people have a perfectly good day. Good things happen slowly, but they still happen.Bad things just grab our attention.
Taking the Party out of Politics - Episode 16
Season 2, Ep. 16
Ministers have a lot of power, in a focused area, and can really affect our lives.Ministers are Political Party creatures.Ministers are mostly from 'safe seats', which means that they are actually 'selected' by the active members of their constituency Political Party.Ministers (and most politicians) are from a particular 'class' of people, who are all able to cope with the hassle, the pressure, and with being part of the machinery of a Political Party.The Media spotlight often pressures politicians to be perfect and consistent, rather than to think afresh if the situation changes, or to admit to an honest mistake.Ministers have an average tenure of just 18 months.This is their chance.They're in a hurry!
Taking the Party out of Politics - Episode 15
Season 2, Ep. 15
Parliament:It's supposed to be about our representatives doing their best for us.It's supposed to be careful consideration of new laws.It's actually dominated by the needs of Political Parties.It's actually an old system, dominated by slick, centralised, powerful Political Parties.When it works, it's because good people are making it work DESPITE the system.If it weren't for those good people, the system would encourage and enable things to go wrong more often than they already do.
Taking the Party out of Politics - Episode 14
Season 2, Ep. 14
Being an MP: It's supposed to be you representing your constituents, checking on the quality of new laws, holding the government to account, and doing a good job.It's actually a process of trying to find your way and to organise your time, getting ordered around and told how to vote, and then getting dropped by your party or voted out.It's supposed to be you working with the system to make things better.It's actually you working against the system, to do your best to make things better - DESPITE the system.It's supposed to be you doing the right thing.It's actually you doing what your political party tells you to do.