Meritocracy in the UK

Why don’t we, “the great unwashed”, reject the social networks of nepotism and cronyism that infest our nation?

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Even the most capable are sometimes forced to dream of Oxbridge
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Robert Phillips
On 22 October 2012 16:17

Are these leaders really the best we can do?

As David Cameron himself has previously said, “We need to redefine the word fair... We need to try to give people a sense that we have a vision of a fairer, better economy; a fairer, better society, where if you work hard and do the right thing you get rewarded.”

So, here is an idea – why don’t we do as the Prime Minister says and change?

Let us imagine for one moment a revolutionary new political system. One that encourages the best of the best to participate in it, to represent and make the correct decisions career politicians either cannot or will not make. Let us look at an entirely meritocratic system of government.

I see such a system working as such:

- As in Australia, all citizens 18 and over will be required to vote by law, even if it means simply spoiling the ballot paper.

- House of Commons reduced to 500 MP’s.

- The second house, the House of Lords is removed entirely.

- No political parties. Political parties hold us back and have become bad for democracy. They would be replaced by issue-based groupings. This will make the population more intelligent and demanding from their local Member of Parliament. It will ensure that the local area gets the local policies that they require.

- The local electorate vote for a candidate based on personal merit and opinion.

- All candidates need to have met strict criteria in order to be added to the shortlist. For example all candidates would need to have a clean Police record; must have worked in the private sector or in education for a minimum of 10 years before becoming eligible to stand at an election; be British citizens; and have lived in the local area they wish to represent for the five years previous.

- The elected MP will serve for fixed five year periods.

- MPs can only serve for three parliaments (15 years). No more jobs for life in safe seats hiding behind political parties, local demographics and voting habits. Politics based on old fashioned political party philosophies and voting habit ensures a poorer performance for the local area. We see this when deprived areas vote time and time again for the same career politician and then complain loudly when little or nothing ever changes.

- All MPs to be paid a tax free £250,000 plus any inflation. As this is a large sum no expense accounts are allowed.

- Voting to be enforced for all elected MPs on every vote. When a representative is ill then a nominated secretary votes on the MPs behalf, based on his/her stipulated intention. Voting is available via telephone using a secure system similar to that utilised in the retail banking sector.

- Each MP has a full-time paid secretary. This secretary is paid directly by the state and cannot be a member of MPs family. Second jobs for MPs or their secretaries will not be allowed when in office. This will reduce the potential for a conflict of interests.

- Annual referendums to be held on any left-over policies passed by parliament, but not achieving a set percentage of required votes, for example 60 percent, or 300 votes.

- The 500 elected MPs then vote for the Ministers positions and elect the position of Prime Minister based on merit and suitability for the role. This way the cream rises to the top and we get a government capable of leading the nation and growing the economy and prosperity of its citizens.

- No opposition required as each person will have their own stipulated position of policy and will be available for voting yay or nay to each question.

- Honours available at the end of serving period, depending upon position within government and terms served in a position.

So, why don’t we, “the great unwashed”, reject the social networks of nepotism and cronyism that infest our nation? Why not rid ourselves of the succession of post-war political failings we seem to politely ignore; the corrupt career politicians with their snouts in the trough; and the infantile party tribalism that blights our democracy thus hastening our march towards terminal decline and second world status? Why not instead try for real change? Change we can all believe in.

Perhaps we need a bloodless, elegant revolution. A revolt not against tyranny, not against the reigning monarch, but instead against the corrupt political classes and the very system that allows it.

Who knows a meritocracy in the UK might just work.

Robert Phillips is a web and media industry executive. He tweets at @Robbyyy

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