Monday, 19 March 2012

influencing elections - how not to do it

It is reported that many Doctors are to stand for Parliament in the hope of unseating coalition and particularly Liberal Democrat MPs.
I am all in favour of people getting more involved in democracy - but don't think this is really the best way.    Firstly, this is the single issue campaign - so where does that leave the candidates on all the other issues ? If you vote for one of these candidates - even if you 100% agree with them on the NHS bill chances are you disagree with them on other issues. Conversely, even if you 100% disagree with an MP on the NHS bill, chances are you will agree with them on many more issues.   Can life be reduced to one issue ? 
Even on a single issue - politics is rarely (never ?) black and white.   Inevitably, politics involves compromise - even dictators have to compromise when they run up against reality.   
Politically, it is also naive. The people most likely to vote for a GP against the NHS bill is most likely not voting for a sitting coalition MP anyway.  So the effect is to "split the vote" of the opposition candidates.  Say a Conservative MP has a majority of 2,000 over their Labour challenger, every Labour voter who switches to a GP against the NHS bill makes Labour less likely to win  and increases the likely Conservative majority - the opposite effect of what is intended.   That is why Conservatives tend not to mind if socialists and greens stand, because they feel that in their absence, many of their supporters would instead vote Labour.  Similarly, Labour tend to be relaxed about UKIP and  independent candidates, as although some people may switch form Labour, they assume that overall it means fewer people voting Conservative.

Thirdly, the NHS bill is long and complicated and is open to many different interpretations - from what I have read, there are something that I would support and others I wouldn't and much that frankly I don't understand.  To me the worse thing about the bill is it seems very similar to what Labour did in Government and not that radical at all.  

So as always the question is what would the GPs do instead ? Leave the NHS exactly as it is ?  How will increased expenditure be funded - what taxes will be raised or other expenditure cut to pay for it ?  Choice choice choices and all politics. Some might even say party politics.  If it is, I believe that is no bad thing.  So instead of standing themselves, I would urge the GPs and others to get involved in party politics. Join the debate, deliver leaflets, go and camapign with party candidates - take part in the process of forming policies.  Make your views know but  strengthen the political process - don't step outside it.

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