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Serving elected politicians switching parties: Should this be allowed?


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Showing 1-25 of 27 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 May 2012, 16:55:57 BST
Last edited by the author on 4 May 2012, 08:18:09 BST
Pendragon says:
It's local election day today, and here in Cambridge yesterday we had two Green Party City Councillors elected in Abbey Ward (the third for that ward, elected in May 2011, is Labour).

The four year term of one of the Green Councillors expired today and her seat is being contested by the usual parties (Con, Lib, Lab, Green). The second Green Councillor, Cllr Adam Pogonowski, was elected to his four year term in May 2010, so he has two years left to serve.

After voting had started today, Cllr Pogonowski announced that he was joining the Labour Party. This appeared eg on twitter, and this morning Labour Party activists delivered a leaflet to households in Cambridge (not just in Abbey Ward) announcing Cllr Pogonowski's defection from Green to Labour.

This is, of course, by no means an isolated example, MPs do it as well as Councillors, and it is permitted under our electoral rules, but should it be? Cllr Pogonowski was elected to serve on Cambridge City Council by voters who supported either the Green Party ticket, or Mr Pogonowski personally, or a combination of both. No-one voted for Mr Pogonowski to serve as a Labour candidate, indeed Mr Pogonowski defeated the Labour candidate in the 2010 election.

Should someone wishing to act as Mr Pogonowski has done today be required to resign and seek re-election, rather than simply being allowed to switch parties at will while in office?

Posted on 3 May 2012, 19:10:20 BST
Sou'Wester says:
I suppose the honourable thing to do would be to resign, particularly if the councillor/M.P. is supporting different policies from those on which they were elected. In parliament there have always been instances of members "crossing the floor" but usually it's not a good long-term career move. The party they move to may pretend to welcome them but usually there's an undercurrent of distrust, whilst the party they've left will seldom forgive such treachery. The most famous exception was, of course, Winston Churchill though even he was regarded with mistrust for many years after he switched allegiance.

Posted on 3 May 2012, 19:38:11 BST
Spin says:
Your "right" to vote" is consistently manipulated by politicians. Your "vote" means sweet FA without your action...

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2012, 19:57:09 BST
gille liath says:
Yes, I think they should. Obviously the theory is that we vote for a person, not a party; but that's really just a legal fiction.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2012, 19:57:36 BST
Maria says:
It definitely should not be allowed for elected officials to change sides without standing for re-election, in my opinion.

Posted on 3 May 2012, 20:04:33 BST
RABB says:
I'm with the rest of you on this, and I think it's especially underhanded to wait until election day to let the voters know. Hopefully the right thing is done but the reality is most people won't even know.

Posted on 3 May 2012, 21:08:24 BST
Last edited by the author on 3 May 2012, 21:10:02 BST
TomC says:
In theory, resigning and standing for re-election is the right thing to do. In practice, I find it difficult to adopt an attitude other than cynical acceptance. In 2010, 62 Liberal Democrat MP's were voted into Parliament on a highly uncertain platform; it was well understood that they would not be the party of government, and hence their actions would not be determined merely by their own party, but by that with whom they would enter into coalition. Nonetheless, it was assumed that they held certain principles which would at least exert some kind of influence over the collective administration.

As we now know, of course, those principles meant nothing; if an entire party was prepared to write a document whose sole purpose was to win them votes, then tear it up and roll over for the sake of a few cabinet jobs, complaining about what colour rosette a given candidate is wearing this week seems like pointless carping.

Sorry; I could go on, but the language would become increasingly obscene, so I won't.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2012, 21:32:55 BST
Last edited by the author on 3 May 2012, 21:34:22 BST
gille liath says:
You have a point there, but that's coalition government. As long as we have a parliamentary system where there is usually a clear winner, it can't become the norm for an entire party to act in a way completely contrary to its election promises.

Personally I have more sympathy for the LibDem party, desperate to cling on to their first semblance of power in a generation, than for the people who voted for them. If the latter had been paying attention, they'd have known this was a party with no defining principles which, therefore, inevitably got sucked in by the Main Chance. Vote yellow, feel Blue.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2012, 23:06:20 BST
Last edited by the author on 3 May 2012, 23:14:12 BST
TomC says:
"Personally I have more sympathy for the LibDem party ... than for the people who voted for them. "

Thanks; that actually makes it worse. "Scrapping university tuition fees during first degrees" was the manifesto wording. I realise that manifestos contain a certain amount of wishful thinking which must be moderated on the morning after election night, but not at my most cynical could I imagine a majority of Lib Dems trooping obediently into the lobby to *increase* the fees they claimed they wished to abolish, which was pretty much a 180 degree turn. Oh - and then there was the leaked memo that revealed that they were planning to do it all along.

I realise that the uni funding issue isn't a popular cause, which was no doubt why they dumped it. That's not the point. I know that there are many who don't care about it, or who actually exult over the fact that a political party feels free to tell deliberate lies about what policies it supports. They should, however, consider the message: that their party of choice will not think twice about doing exactly the same on any other issue, if it happens to suit them.

So finally, does it matter who we vote for? I used to think so. Now, I just don't.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 00:04:26 BST
ric_mac says:
< [Does] it matter who we vote for? I used to think so. Now, I just don't >

Tom do you mean you now don't think so, or you now don't vote? I have to say, for myself, that I feel there is definite purpose in voting in a local (ie borough, county or mayoral) election. There are clear issues. However I find it increasingly difficult to vote in general elections because of a growing homogeneity amongst the major parties and a tendency toward pre-election dishonesty across the political board. As evidence, which of the major parties gave any real indication prior to the last general election of the measures they would take afterwards? They simply dared not do so. I think people no longer vote *for* the government they want but only, rather, *against* those parties they fear most in office.

Posted on 4 May 2012, 09:57:10 BST
gille liath says:
They're an uninspiring bunch, no doubt. But does it matter? Well, the fact that the Tory party still has its guiding principles - pro private sector and big business, anti public service, welfare state and unions, is - surely to God - now clear for all to see. And I think Labour, somewhere underneath the flim-flam, also does. The LibDems have always been about picking up strays in the no-man's-land between the two, and they've been found out.

If people voted Tory and, particularly, LibDem, because they were sick of Labour, but without thinking through what it would mean, then they're getting what they deserve. Unfortunately I'm getting what they deserve too: thanks.

Posted on 4 May 2012, 10:18:47 BST
easytiger says:
It's legal but it's immoral and it stinks.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 10:20:57 BST
TomC says:
I mean the first: I no longer believe it matters who we vote for. My perception is that the senior politicians of all denominations are in the pockets of corporate interests, and the rest take the money, keep their mouths shut and do as they are told. It would be nice to believe that local politics are less sleazy and corrupt, but the story of T. Dan Smith would suggest otherwise.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 10:35:42 BST
Pendragon says:
gille

Rather amusing Labour stickers were being pasted over LibDem posters in Cambridge reading:

Q: [Under a photo of Clegg] "What do you get if you vote LibDem?"
A: [Under a photo of Clegg standing next to Cameron] "Tories!"

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 14:36:22 BST
Last edited by the author on 4 May 2012, 14:37:04 BST
ric_mac says:
Let me first say that I have no party political affiliations or loyalties.

At the last general election one would expect dyed-in-the-wool political camp followers to vote for their respective parties. However, sensible people don't just blindly vote for a coloured rosette. It was a confusing and scary time for the electorate and their choice for a government consisted of a group of financially incompetent buffoons who were instrumental in making a difficult situation dire, a group of greedy and socially divisive elitists intent on protecting their wealth at the expense of the wider electorate and a group of insecure and inexperienced opportunists. It was, in effect, no choice at all. Gille, you can't be seriously suggesting that people should have voted for Brown after all he achieved? The result would still have been awful. We would still have been up to our necks.

All this time later, it is both easy and perfectly fair to be critical of the ConDems, who appear to be bumbling oafs as well as unthinking hatchet-men. But where's the opposition? What -- in concrete terms -- is their strategy? What would they do, when unable to take pot-shots from the sidelines?

In many ways there is less clear water between them than they'd have anyone believe but, to the extent that thay are different, they remain equally awful in their individual ways. Labour governments don't understand anything that appears on a balance sheet. Conservative governments don't understand anything that doesn't. Yet they have both proved equally obsequious when dealing with media moguls and the so-called captains of industry, and they have both proved equally ineffectual when considering regulation that might have given some protection against the current economic mess. No-one takes the LibDems seriously in terms of forming a national government, but they can be effective and financially responsible in local government, which is why punishing them in yesterday's local elections for the pathetic duplicity of their parliamentary counterparts is rather like the electorate cutting its own nose off to spite its face.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 14:48:10 BST
ric_mac says:
In general elections, for a number of years, I have been very tempted just to spoil my ballot paper. However the ballot is all we have and we neglect it at our peril, pointless though it might seem. The more positive alternative is to be to become personally involved in the process, which many of us are reluctant to do.

Posted on 4 May 2012, 16:07:56 BST
Spin says:
A politician whoswitches parties is explicitly denying the policies that got him elected and so his seat should be contested automatically. If those who voted for him agree with his move they will vote for him again and then his move has political and legal authority. To simply "disagree" with the policies that one once defended but wish to retain parliamentary standing, is a sign of greed and cowardice.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 19:33:33 BST
Last edited by the author on 4 May 2012, 19:34:01 BST
TomC says:
"the ballot is all we have and we neglect it at our peril, pointless though it might seem."

Well, true; it seems that I must qualify my statement that it doesn't matter who we vote for. If I didn't vote at all, and our constituency returned a BNP MP, I'd have to look at myself in the mirror in the morning and acknowledge that I played a small part in allowing it to happen. It seems a poor comment on our current system that it can offer nothing better than a choice between two slightly different shades of sh*te.

Posted on 4 May 2012, 19:41:58 BST
Spin says:
Vote for ME! I'll let you do whatever you want...As long as you pay for my two houses, my private secretary and my chauffer..

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 19:47:56 BST
gille liath says:
"We would still have been up to our necks."

But we are - aren't we? I think it's been insufficiently appreciated that Brown did the right things during the credit crunch, without which things would likely have been a lot worse. His mistakes were really in the preceding years.

However, that's history. I agree with a lot of what you say there, and it can seem like Hobson's choice. None of the parties want to get serious about the biggest problems, which are environmental. But can I seriously suggest people should still have voted Labour? Of course: if the alternatives were likely to be worse. There was clearly no great enthusiam for the Tories. I think there was a certain amount of wilful blindness going on, especially from Lib Dem Voters; a refusal to think through the consequences, because it was just too hard.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 19:48:28 BST
gille liath says:
The sad thing is it's not even a joke - it's a simple statement of what happened.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 19:52:39 BST
Pendragon says:
True - but that's what made the phrasing amusing.

Anyway, the LibDems lost 4 seats and control of Cambridge City Council in yesterday's election. So maybe the stickers did the trick?

The bizarre thing is - one of the LibDem seats here was lost by them to the Conservatives!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 20:37:43 BST
gille liath says:
Overall their vote has held up though hasn't it - in spite of losing a number of seats? I guess, as the third party, they need to keep their vote concentrated to have any impact.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012, 22:40:06 BST
ric_mac says:
<< We would still have been up to our necks >>

< But we are - aren't we? >

Oh yes, I wasn't suggesting that we *weren't* still up to our necks. It's bad -- and will likely get worse. But I don't think it would otherwise be better under a Labour government (Brown had lost any credibility at home, abroad and in the markets and his continued premiership I think would have been damaging for the country. The current Lab leader, so far as I can make out, has no strategy other than shooting fish in barrels as the coalition continue to demonstrate their inadequacy).

I don't know about 'wilful blindness' or 'a refusal to think things through', so much as a kind of hopefulness that the two major parties had finally s*** their pot full and the LIbDems time might have come. It's easy to say they were obviously wrong after the event. No-one at the time had a crystal ball and all anyone has to do to win an election is get more votes than the other guys. After all, there was a time -- before Ramsey Macdonald -- when there didn't seem to be any chance of the Labour party ever being elected to government.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2012, 13:31:13 BST
Last edited by the author on 5 May 2012, 13:31:57 BST
gille liath says:
True, but - if anybody could really be bothered to look for the posts - they'd find that I was saying much the same thing at election time, and ever since.

It ain't easy when you're always right...
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Discussion in:  politics discussion forum
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Total posts:  27
Initial post:  3 May 2012
Latest post:  6 May 2012

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