Saturday, March 07, 2015

MPs: delegates or representatives?

We are in favour of delegate democracy in which people elected to public office should not be leaders with a free hand but the messenger boys and girls of those who voted for them and subject to recall by them if they fail to act as mandated. This will be the basis of the participatory democracy that will be a basic feature of socialism. It runs counter to the current theory and practice of the limited democracy practised under capitalism where electors put a cross against the name of some candidate and then sit back and let whoever is elected act as they consider fit.

In Britain MPs are entitled to do this even if  it conflicts with what those who elected them want and cry “breach of privilege” if anyone tries to instruct them how to vote.. Of course it couldn’t be otherwise under capitalism as MPs cannot deliver on most of their promises as the workings of the capitalist system do not allow this.

This difference is made clear in the following exchange of emails between our candidate in Swansea West, Brian Johnson, and a campaigning pressure group.

Opening email:
We are writing to all candidates standing for election as a Member of Parliament in the 7th May 2015 Westminster Parliament General Election, to ask that you agree to adopt the (FVVRA) Free Vote Voluntary Recall Alliance Pledge.
 Our aim is to secure for voters a clear commitment from each parliamentary candidate, that they will, if elected, use their free vote to properly represent their constituents and act as a check on the Executive, holding it to account on behalf of the voters as was originally intended.
To secure this commitment, we ask all prospective Members of Parliament and Members of Parliament to act in good faith and on their individual word of honour, make themselves directly responsible to their constituents by adopting the FVVRA Pledge.

Our candidate’s reply:
I am pledged by the Rulebook of my Party “act on the instructions of my branch locally, and by the Executive Committee nationally" In other words, if elected, I would be a delegate. As such I should be subject to the right of recall.

Their rejoinder:
I think the following statement sums it up:
 "We should be acting on behalf of our constituents and, using our "unbiased opinion" and mature judgment", scrutinising every piece of legislation that comes our way to hold the Government properly to account, regardless of party politics". - Edmund Burke
In effect as an MP your duties to your constituents and your country come first.

Our response:
Bit of a red herring you are dishing out there for where in my book the only constituents interests I'll be covering are members of the working class.  In your book it covers all members of society, which by your definition also includes the ruling class of capitalists.
Glad to say I have no intention of representing the interests of a wealthy minority who are driven to put profits before human needs.  Indeed the state is there to represent their interests not me!

'I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out' - Eugene Debs

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