I ask the question in view of this article.
Long ago I lost count of:
- politicians dismissed from cabinet owing to misdemeanors, incompetence, or ‘rebellion’; only to be re-appointed a few years later;
- politicians dismissed from cabinet and then jumping on a bandwagon of their leader, hoping for re-appointment;
- politicians dismissed from cabinet by the preceding prime minister, yet are re-appointed by the successor purely to keep them ‘on-side’ so that they do not cause ‘trouble.
- politicians with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) appointed to cabinet posts for which they had no firsthand work experience.
Rosamund Irwin, the author of the linked article above, is quite correct to write that Theresa May leads a cabinet of the ‘resurrected and recycled’; but then what prime ministerial practice, within his/her tenure at No 10, has she not followed for her own benefit?
In a separate article Sebastian Whale asks when did we stop trying to understand each other. Sebastian ‘wails’ abut the lack of co-operation twixt politicians of opposing political views – yet never mind political party discourse, just when have they actually ‘talked’ to us?. Yes, politicians may well talk to each other, but more likely their topic of conversation is more to do with leaders of their party who they consider idiots or possibly the inflated prices in their subsidised restaurants. Yes, he mentions Stella Creasy’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech that allowed Northern Irish women to access abortions on the NHS in mainland Britain, supported by whip-defying Tory MPs and a cause long championed by among others, Conservative chair of the Equalities Committee, Maria Miller; but how more quickly might that have been introduced if those people it affected had had a voice in the matter?
I have long complained that we live under a form of democratised dictatorship, one that results in we, the people, being forced to live under the whims of whichever politician, assuming the leadership of his/her party and achieving the office of Prime Minister, then decides. When, as Whale states you have a situation in which the UK’s two main political parties cannot – and do not wish to – understand where the other is coming from, just how can it be maintained by those parties that they are working for the good of the country? Just how can the current politicians, within our current system of democracy, maintain that they represent their constituents when they are part of the ‘payroll vote’;and, as such, are more concerned with their political careers?
Whale writes that robust opposition is a democratic necessity – but not when said opposition is concentrated within what amounts to a minute section of the people of this country. We, the people, must be the ones to provide said robust opposition and we should have the means to so do.
In focusing on the two articles mentioned, hopefully readers will not have missed the common thread that both contain: namely they are written by those within the ‘Westminster Bubble’ – in other words, they are attempting to correct a defect/deficit within a system in which they are complicit.
Returning to the heading to this article then yes, politicians do have a ‘shelf life’; but it is not one at the whim of the prime minister or their party system – their ‘shelf life’ should – and must – depend on we, the people.
Direct Democracy, anyone?