I am responding to a tag from Sara Bedford to put forward ideas in relation to Power 2010. As Liberal Democrats, I feel that we have already wrote about most of the issues that need to be addressed by Power 2010. I am going to tackle two issues, which I feel wont be addressed as much as others, but are equally important. They are the bias within the BBC in how they do not give equal coverage to the Lib Dems and how to promote a culture of having principled politicians.
One only has to look at the Nick Griffin BBC Question Time episode, to see how shut out Chris Huhme was from the coverage and questions. The right always bang on and on about how the BBC is some sort of Labour controlled puppet, but when does anyone in the mainstream really engage in the debate of how representative the BBC are towards the Liberal Democrats. Ideas, which are first hand narratives of Clegg, are turned into Cameron ‘breakthroughs’. I have written about this before, in regards to unequal coverage provided to Clegg by the BBC in terms of the Gurkhas and Afghanistan. This was recently highlighted too, when the BBC ran with the story of how Cameron wants to develop a war cabinet, something which Clegg talked about weeks before in a Guardian article with Paddy Ashdown.
BBC are currently regulated by Ofcom, which interestingly the Tories want to get rid of in their ‘quango bonfire’. Whether or not Ofcom is abolished, their regulation requirements of the BBC should be delegated to an elected representative body, who undertake regular research using qualitative and quantitative analysis (such as Glasgow University Media Group), and report back the quantity and quality of the coverage that has taken place in terms of how equal it is to each political party, for example. This is just a recent idea, so I haven’t really thought deeply into the details. But it is a possible solution to the obvious bias that takes place within the BBC.
Something which is much harder to address, but something I think is important to address, is striving to promote a principled politician. How is it fair when politicians stand up for what they believe, such as Frank Field, they then lose their power and influence as they are either demoted from their post or they resign on principle (Field and 10p tax is an example). Again, my ideas on how promoting principles in politics would be achieved is sketchy, this is something that would be hard as it goes against one of the main aims of politics – toeing the party line.
Ways I feel could address this power in balance is moves such as reducing (possibly removing) the party whips and their power to court and bribe, or even force, MPs to vote in a certain way. Maybe a way of getting around this is having free votes on everything. However, it is hard to promote principled politicians as the party structure is central to the problem, and so to change the party structure would take a long time and a lot of planning and thought. The whole way politics operates and the whole culture of politics would be changed. There would have to be no more stabling those who disagree with the leadership in the back, or no more media parties if an MP stands up against the party. But this is something that would require a great deal of work. Whilst the general public want more principled politics, a lot of them also like to see MPs suffer, and exploiting ‘stray’ politicians is one way the media can thus attract an audience.
There are many other ways that principles can be put into politics, such as undermining the links between interests and policies, trying to tackle the convention of ‘secret meetings’ where the ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours’ informs the discussion. This is wholly wrong, and just undermines the real job of the MP, which is to represent fairly the concerns of their constituents, even if it may upset the leadership. If it is morally correct, and it is what they and their constituents believe in, they should act in accordance to this.
I have tackled two main issues, there are many others I could have talked about as there is a lot of work needed to achieve democratic renewal of the British Political system. The ways in which I would address these issues are like I have said, sketchy, as I only have really thought about it in more depth over the last day. Thus, my ideas need obvious development, so I would be happy for anyone to do that as these changes are crucial if we are going to gain back the respect the politics system had many years ago.