Tuesday 5 November 2013

Something To Put The Willies Up Every Politician

Here's an interesting comment underneath Russell Brand's latest vague critique of politics which doesn't say much more than 14 year olds have generally said since the 1960s.
If only 75% vote in an election, why are not 25% of our representatives chosen by lot? After all, we're happy to rely upon juries selected at random. 
I'd have much more faith in 650 MPs who are ordinary wo/men whose names had been drawn from a hat than I would in any 650 career politicians.
Ha! If nothing else it would put the wind up the current over-thinking PPE graduates and 'never-had-a-job-but-happy-to-dictate' ideologues we mostly have to suffer.

But, as I remember from a long-distant link tank, there have been studies on this in the past. And it don't look good for the performance of our currently-elected broomsticks.
Why Randomly-Selected Politicians Would Improve Democracy
In practice, there are numerous examples of democratic systems that are rife with corruption or paralysed by disagreement. Even in benign parliaments, it is often an open question as to whether the work they do really benefits the majority of people. 
Today, Alessandro Pluchino and amici at the Universitá di Catania in Italy say there is a better way. They have modelled the behaviour of a two-party parliament and examined how it changes as randomly selected independent legislators are introduced into the system. 
Their counterintuitive conclusion is that randomly selected legislators always improves the performance of parliament and that it is possible to determine the optimal number of independents at which a parliament works best.
I'm sure that politicians would provide us all a whole host of reasons why everyday people should be kept well away from their cosy bubble, of course. The unspoken one being that they've worked their socks off for years to ignore the public entirely!



moonrakin said...

Wasn't there one of the Greek city states in antiquity where a person could get "elected" to office even if they didn't "run" or want the job?

Junican said...

I don't think that 'randomly selected' matters if the people to be randomly selected are 'politicians'. It might work if the people selected are, by definition, self-sufficient. That might mean 'self-employed' or 'rich' or simply 'able to think'. What is clear to anyone with a brain is that our present political system stinks. It has become obvious that our 'leaders' are fixated upon 'one size fits all', which is totalitarianism, aka communism.
The Big Three Parties fixed ballot papers to favour themselves IN GENERAL by changing the law so that party affiliations were advertised. By doing so, they excluded, as best they could, independents.
Because the parties fixed the ballot in this way, only revolution can change it. I do not mean violent revolution. But, to be honest, I do not know how this revolution can be achieved.

nisakiman said...

I have long thought that the system would be vastly improved by a (more or less) random selection of representatives.

Our current system allows only for those desperate to climb the greasy pole to power, which to my mind should automatically preclude their access to any position of authority. A system which merely established a minimum level of education / entrepreneurship / ability to cope with the vicissitudes of life, and then selected via some sort of lottery those who would be called up, like jury service, to do a well paid mandatory two or four year stint with no possibility of re-selection would give us a government who would act on behalf of the people who they governed. The lack of pecuniary interest in the position would, in theory, weed out the likelihood of the corruption that is endemic in the current system.

That was the great strength of the House of Lords before Blair and his cronies fucked it up with their 'reforms'. The people who sat in the HoL did so because of an accident of birth. Because most of them were independently wealthy, graft was not an issue, and they performed their function out of a sense of duty to Queen and country. It was the most effective reforming house in the world until the invidious socialists dismantled it in a fit of jealous pique.

Barry Homan said...

In a form of analogy, Hollywood producer Sam Spiegel (Bridge on the River Kwai) is quoted as saying: "A good script is never the result of everyone being in agreement. A really exceptional script is turned out from everyone being in conflict, arguing and debating over it."

I feel it's the same in politics, you need a cross-section of loud, stark, opposing viewpoints. I myself have organized small stage productions, and I've learned a lot the hard way and I've also had to make people jump through some hoops of my own. Tempers flare, grudges might form, but the show must go on - and in the end, the result is a good one.

Longrider said...

Random selection is the Athenian model. Fine until, as with jury duty, it buggers up your work and life. That said, it would be better than having the place stuffed with career politicians.

I think you do Brand a disservice by dismissing him so lightly. His article may be unfocussed, but he is voicing what many of us think - and not all of us are 14 ;)

SadButMadLad said...

Sortition, and ancient Athens did it.


SadButMadLad said...

Changing the method of election doesn't solve the underlying problem. It's the power. The methods and aims and desires of the current 650 are pretty much random. Some are in it for the money, others to do good, yet more want to impose their view of morality on the rest. What's to stop the randomly elected doing the same thing once they have power.

Cut back on the power and it won't matter how politicians are elected.

Agincourt Survivor said...

Let us attach blame where it really belongs for the survival of the
total sham "democracy" in Westminster
Us , the plebs,the clowns,the idiots,the half wits,the jerkoffs,the morons,the half brains,the dim wits,the unknowing serfs who ,when the media whips up our attention,trudge of to a poliing booth and place an X for some deviant,who we spend the following 5 years groaning about. In simple terms
IF YOUVOTE.......................................SHUT UP,GO AWAY!
All Change Please

JonathanBagley said...

Nisikaman has stolen my thunder. The HOL. Chosen at random from independently wealthy, generally well- educated people. What's not to like?

Longrider said...

Er, I don't vote.

Longrider said...

Given that we really, really do not need more legislation, cutting back their hours to once or twice a year would be a start.

woodsy42 said...

You would still run into a version of the old problem - that anyone who willingly agreed to become a temporary politician probably should not be allowed to become one.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Or mandating them to repeal two pieces of legislation of similar level before being allowed to pass a new one. There is a one in/one out policy at the moment, but they only have to suggest something they plan to repeal at a later date. AFAICS they just promise to look into some law or other but forget about it once their new law or regulation has passed.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

That would be fine, except that I expect he's happy with a lot of what they have done in the past 15 years, and speaks up now because he would more likely want them to regulate more, ban more, and spend more rather than just leave us alone.

He's very sound on drugs, mind. ;)

nisakiman said...

But the point is that, like someone called up for jury service, unless they had a damn good reason for opting out, it would be mandatory. It wouldn't be a case of 'agreeing'. It would be "Your name came out of the hat, boyo, you'd better start swotting up on economics."

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Nice analogy.

One difference, though, is that everyone in your scenario is primarily driven by the desire top produce a good show. It's clear that many politicians have an agenda which is not necessarily to make the country better.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Although it's unfashionable to agree with you, I'm sure many do. An entirely elected HoL is a terrifying idea IMO.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I can think of quite a few multi-millionaire businessmen who would relish the challenge of making the UK their latest streamlined success. At the moment, they're brought in as advisers to make suggestions, which are then crossed off one by one for political and cowardly reasons by MPs. Just like the red tape challenge which brought forward next to nothing, despite thousands of very good suggestions.

truckerlyn said...

Perhaps we need to look closer at the Civil Servants directly involved with government. I do believe it is more like Yes Minister than many think! Maybe they should be moved around and replaced as well as the politicians? After all, their names might not be prominent, but I bet they get off on the Power as well.

JonathanBagley said...

Great idea Dick. We'd be left with around ten laws. Just like in the old days.