The views of the citizens should be regularly sought and heeded, rather than regularly avoided and ignored which sadly may have been the lasting impression gained by observing some of our sitting MP's on the stump during the last Westminster General election. The icing on the cake was Gordon Brown's televised mutterings following a clash with a potential Labour voter up north. The end result was being particularity grim up north for Gordon thanks to the presence of a live microphone - the rest as they say, along with his premiership was history.
Now just over four months or so down the line from Polling day, and after the dust has begun to settle I am still left with the impression that rather than being a historic election it was more of an odd one. This impression has been reinforced by the fact that a significant number of our Parliamentary representatives quite openly and quite deeply resented having to account for how they had fleeced the system, for some years, to line their pockets at our expense.
This impression has been deepened by the fact that so few of our formerly elected representatives who were unluckily enough to get caught with their hands in the till, so to speak, have finally ended up before the bench or the beak (or will at least do so shortly). I suspect that all of this could be said to leave any impartial observer of our questionable democracy wondering about the effectiveness (or not) of the system of checks (rather than cheques) and balances in place to monitor our elected representatives even after the expenses scandal.
It is worth remembering that The Times (back on the 25th September 2009) revealed that 28 prospective Conservative candidates who had a reasonably good chances of becoming Tory MPs were working as lobbyists or public relations consultants on behalf of businesses and other interests. Over a quarter of them had got their jobs after being selected to fight parliamentary seats.
A number of them were duly forced to put up their hands to admit that they had set up meetings for clients with Conservative Shadow ministers, MPs and officials. Others said that they provided advice on the party’s direction and some admitted to lobbying Tory Frontbenchers on behalf of clients. So much for a brave new sleaze free new Westminster world, I wonder how many of them got elected?
The then leader of the opposition, David Cameron (now Con Dem PM) found himself in a potentially difficult situation with at least one fifth of his 150 parliamentary candidates who are likely to get elected working or had worked in the highly lucrative field of public affairs or communications. The Times at the time noted that only 7 Labour and 3 Lib Dem parliamentary candidates (with a chance of being elected) had jobs in public relations or communications.
The real question you have to ask, and it is one that everyone should be asking is with regard to Westminster and every other elected body is how much has really changed?
UPDATE: As for lobby see the Guido Fawkes blog...