Sunday, 11 September 2016

Who is this 'no hoper'

It is quite excruciating when former States members display their  disregard or ignorance of democratic concepts. So I wasn't  impressed to  read Mr Shenton's view on hustings at
no hopers are ruining the political hustings for voters

There are a few problems  not just with the principle as it applies to proper democratic processes, but also with a few practicalities.  I'll start with a couple of them.  Take Donald Trump.  Widely perceived as something of a joke candidate and no hoper at the start of the process he is now a contender for president of the United States.   Or what of Abraham Lincoln who was a serial election loser before he was eventually elected to that same office.   See Abraham Lincoln failures  And what about the psephologists predictions for the last UK general election or the BrExit referendum, both of which they got wrong.  So how do you determine a priori who and who is not a no hoper, or indeed a shoe in winner?  If you cannot do that  Mr Shenton's proposition is a farcical piece of nonsense.

It may surprise Mr Shenton to know that hustings are not principally about entertainment.  They are historically for the benefit of those voters who wish to see the candidates perform and hear their views, deriving from a time when many voters might be illiterate.  Just as elections are not reality TV pop culture voting , not least because it is about a lot more than simply winning. People can and do take to the elections process to argue a political case - it may be unaccepted by the electorate, but nevertheless very useful and important.  It takes time to gain widespread support for change and new ideas.   We use democracy to do that as it is the least worst option, and it enables those ideas to be raised and tested in public.  That's a good thing, not to be suppressed, Mr Shenton.

The former Senator  bemoans the lack of engagement with the public, yet he proposes a mechanism that  would do nothing to increase the choice and variety on offer to the electorate. Indeed his main aim seems to be to narrow the options  by excluding what he concludes to be no hopers.  I ask how is that going to increase participation, who is going to turn out to vote if there is no one presenting a view they support (as indeed some have commented about the absence of a deep green candidate at the last general and this recent by election).

Another problem with his proposed mechanism is the fixed rate.  It wouldn't put off wealthy  'no hopers' but it would be disproportionately  arduous on poorer candidates.  Perhaps if he had proposed a deposit of  1%  of gross wealth that would be more equitable, but still contrary to the democratic  philosophy.   And I guess that's where we really see what is going on here.  Mr Shenton would have an election limited to the choices of comfortable off candidates who subscribe to a narrow view of politics .  More a personality selection process than any political choice.  That's one sure way to undermine  the whole system, including the participation rate.

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