Tuesday, 22 April 2008

on switching parties

I’ve always found the idea that a politician can switch parties after being elected very contentious, it relies on the basis that people vote for the MP and not the party, but how many people can say this is true?

It’s impractical for the House of Commons to be entirely composed of independents, so parties exist to ensure that the people know what they are voting for, that is also why manifestos exist, so people can vote for a member to be elected to Parliament from the party they would like to have implement their manifesto (if their votes get counted, see
on electoral reform).

Of course a precedent exists whereby MP’s are elected as individuals, based on their views and they can switch and choose as they like. Winston Churchill is one famous example of someone who did
quite a bit of party switching, but is it time for this process to be changed? What would be the case if a system of PR was introduced (for example as used for the London Assembly) where a candidate gets elected based on the party vote across the region (in the case of London, the London-wide members), would it be democratic for them to then change parties after the election? (is this even allowed in London?).
The Liberal Democrats of course were founded as a result of the
merger of the Liberals and the SDP, the first two SDP members of Parliament were former members of the Labour party who simply switched parties to the SDP (Owen and Rodgers from the gang of four), in fact 28 Labour MP’s then went on to join the SDP.

I have often thought that if the BNP or Greens wanted to get an MP in Parliament then they could simply stand as a member of another party and then simply defect. It appears
the UKIP have taken this view as well, with so many eurosceptic Tory MPs it will be interesting to see how many defect to join Mr. Bob Spink (I suspect none), does this effectively make him party leader? Chief Whip? And Frontbench Spokesman? Busy man he will be.

Perhaps before the next election the Liberal Democrats should swamp the local Tory and Labour associations, get Lib Dems selected as candidates (incognito) and then switch parties post election and form the new government, no need to go back to constituencies to prepare for government at all…

Funnily enough UKIP often complain about the EU being undemocratic, yet they have backed this, one of the most undemocratic moves an MP could make in the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Hypocrisy?

Should we be backing Nick Clegg’s view that an
MP should be ‘recalled’ by their constituents to face a by-election?


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