Saturday, August 29, 2009

Party v Constituency

I rate Dan Hannan, the Conservative MEP. I don't always agree with him, but his writing and speaking style is clear and precise - and invariably well argued. He wrote this thought provoking article in yesterday's Telegraph. Provoked me anyway. But then I agree with the content. Lets consider this extract.

On why politicians give evasive answers ... "Ninety nine times out of a hundred, its because their opinion diverges from the party line. And so, not wanting to tell a lie, they effect to misunderstand the interviewer, or answer a different question to the one that was put, or use a lawyerly formulation.........because of the wretched, and relatively recent doctrine that no two members of a party can reasonably disagree" ... This describes the idiocy to which our political discourse has descended. I'm always insulted when someone with whom I'm involved in conversation refers to my having given a 'politician's answer'. Its something I try never to do. The flawed assumption on which all this is based is that the politician represents 'the party' rather than 'the constituency'.

Over the last few weeks, Dan Hannan has been big in the news as a result of expressing his opinion - honestly. He's repeated his long held opinion that the British system of delivering health care is in need of reform, and he's expressed his admiration for Enoch Powell. What on earth is wrong with that. But the Labour Party sought to make a big public issue of it. And, shamefully, the media, and the BBC in particular ran these stories as if they were news - using its dominance of the news agenda, financed by the 'poll tax' subsidy of the licence fee, to stick legs on a tiddler. Thankfully, the public seems to have seen this dishonesty and sycophancy for what it is.

Because I'm a parliamentary candidate, I do think about what sort of Parliamentarian I'd like to be. First and foremost, I would want to be a 'constituency MP'. I accept that where a three line whip is imposed, I would have to 'follow orders', except in extreme circumstances. But I would not be prepared to stifle my opinions. I would want the freedom to make clear my disagreement with party policy if I thought it wrong. I realise that sometimes I would have to accept a majority opinion of my party that I disagreed with. But I could not survive without the freedom to argue my case.

Next week, David Davies, MP for Monmouth is coming to Montgomeryshire to speak at one of our events. Haven't spoken to David for a while, but I suspect there are policy areas where we disagree. There always have been. But he's a much valued friend and colleague. We are both committed to the Conservative Party, we both have a tendency to say what we think, but we both accept that in the end the majority view of the party will prevail. That's how Dan Hannan sees politics. And so do I.


Mark Reckons said...

Glyn. You might be interested in this post I did recently about Mr Hannan.

I totally agree about the idiocy of political discourse in this country and I am dedicated to trying to improve it too.

Glyn Davies said...

Mark - Have read your post, and some of the comments. I would dispute strongly the suggestion that Dan Hannan was indulging in a form of covert racism, which some of your visitors seem to think. They just don'tr get him at all. I also believe that Dan Hannan has helped the situation by not being 'cowed' by the tactics used against him. He has made speaking honestly a little more acceptable.

TCOAH said...

Glyn: please write a post on your thoughts about the recent dreadful scenes of triumphant glee broadcast from Libya (In re Pan Am Flight 103 that crashed over Lockerbie). I recall that you did write a post on this issue, but the issues surrounding the convicted terrorists release have not gone away.

Those scenes have done great damage in very obvious ways.

At least one ill-informed but very powerful Senator is talking about sanctions against the UK, which naturally includes Wales. This would be very wrong especially as the vast majority of ordinary Welsh people didn't agree with what happened.

Unless we get this message back across the wee pond there can be incalculable fall out in ways we can't even imagine right now.

this world said...

'Mark Reckons'> it seems you only want to shut down debate on matters that need to be debated openly if only to counteract the likes of BNP. By raising this stupid idea of covert racism on the part of Mr. Hannan does not serve the purposes of open debate, but to shut down open debate. Is this the position of the Lib-Dem party? To discourage open debate? If so, the Lib-Dems have joined the ranks of those aiding the BNP. It is in the 'market place of ideas' that the filth generated by the likes of BNP can be directly challenged and shown for what it is, but instead those that seek to shut down debate are making the cause of the BNP even more attractive to those open to their ideas who might otherwise be persuaded to avoid joining or supporting the BNP. You sir, are doing no favours for those who object to the BNP, by calling people racists in all but name, you seek to chill open debate - and in doing so you become the censor of open debate, the very thing BNP can point to and ridicule to draw in new members.

Mark Reckons said...

"This world" - I think you have misunderstood my position.

I do not think Hannan is racist, I simply thought that he was being honest about his influences.

others are entitled to their opinion but some of the manufactured outrage just wound me up hence my post.

I am not in favour of closing down debate and no, that is not the official position of the Lib Dems.

Anonymous said...

>TCOAH: What's the going rate for a barrel of oil these days? One Libyan and a nation's dignity in the International Community?

TCOAH said...

Roman’> good question ... the damage is frighteningly high.

What Gordon Brown’s government has done is akin to launching a nuclear tipped missile at the ordinary American psyche.

There are many who despise and hate everything that America stands for, but I think we all know that the vast majority of ordinary Brits stand with ordinary Americans, it's just that our 'leaders' are so out of touch with ordinary Brits that proved capable of making the ridiculous decision of releasing the only person convicted of the Lockerbie airliner atrocity.

I have written a letter to the Western Mail - if the WM has the courage to print it the letter might act as a catalyst encouraging the vast majority of ordinary Welsh men and women to come together with one voice to let ordinary Americans know that the vast majority of ordinary Welsh men and women did not agree to the release and highly object to the dreadful gleeful triumphant scenes broadcast out of Libya.

I just posted a copy of this letter on Glyn’s website (see Glyn’s ‘Leadership and Courage - or not’ post).

sheesh typo said...

sorry for the typo ...

"... , it's just that our 'leaders' are so out of touch with ordinary Brits that THEY proved capable of making the ridiculous decision ..."; missing 'they' shown in capitals.