Politics, to use an Americanism, should be of the people for the people. However, it often seems to me that politics is of the hierarchy for the hierarchy, with the people left to scratch around looking for the crumbs from the lofty table of those who run the country.
Now, you may think that I’m one of those who believe the world owes them a living. I don’t. I believe those who can work, should. However, there are those who, for whatever reason, can’t and we should help them to look after themselves, if they’re able – if not, then the country should have the wherewithal to do that for them.
Prospective Members of Parliament should have to know who ‘the people’ are. After all, it’s the public who these candidates are purporting to represent when they get into office – although, media reports have shown that there are many who forget that and see their appointment as a doorway to money, personal power and reciprocal favours. Of course, before voting, Joe (& Josephine) Public need to do their homework on who these candidates are and what they’re promising – not that there’s a great deal of difference between them at the ballot box, mainly because they’re all telling us what we want to hear – until they get into Parliament and then it’s a different story.
It’s true that Parliament needs a mixture of representatives in its ranks and maybe it’s asking too much for those who understand the machinations of Government to truly understand the plight of Joe Public. There will, of course, be some candidates who come from backgrounds which help them to empathise with those who don’t know where their next pound is coming from, whose accommodation is poor and who might be reliant on benefits to survive. But I feel these are few and far between. Often the ones who hit the headlines are the rich, many of whom it seems believe the definition of a poor person is someone who either had to win a scholarship to get to Eton, or might be down to their last quarter of a million pounds. It’s not the MPs fault, many of them have never had contact with the poor – why should they – they have had no need to.
Is it wrong to expect everyone we put in Government to have at least some semblance of what it’s like to be Mr and Mrs Public? No, it isn’t wrong. We should expect MPs to have a genuine understanding of what it’s like to be without. After all, they never fail to tell us how important we are when they want us to vote, to pay taxes or to fight.
So, in the future, how do we get the people who want to represent us in Parliament to understand what it’s like to be Mr & Mrs Public? I'm sure any of you reading this will have your own ideas, but the one I suggest is to make sure every candidate has completed at least three months working unpaid for the homeless or disadvantaged. It should be a rite of passage before anyone can look to represent the people – no matter which party they favour.