Responsible MPs and how to get them?

  Jim Thing 15:04 12 May 2009

Perhaps one solution to the problem of ensuring that our future elected representatives are upright, stable and responsible is to find some way of weighting the electoral system in favour of upright, stable and responsible voters. One such system was proposed in 1953 by Neville Shute in his novel 'In The Wet.'

The essence of Shute's idea was that 'one man, one vote' is a flawed system in which the votes of responsible electors are simply cancelled out by those of the irresponsible and dysfunctional. He therefore postulated a system (set in a fictional future Australia) in which each citizen could earn up to seven votes by satisfying the following criteria:
1) Reaching the age of eighteen
2) Obtaining a higher education qualification or gaining a commission in the armed forces
3) Earning one's living abroad for at least two years
4) Raising two children to the age of 14 without divorcing
5) Being an official of a Christian church (!)
6) Having a high earned income (!)
7) An honour awarded by the monarch for outstanding public service.

Shute's specific criteria are not at issue here; inevitably some of them reflected the social attitudes of the 1950s and not those of the present (No. 5, for example, may well be considered dangerously divisive today, while No. 6 was clearly devised long before the obscenely overpaid Masters of the Universe came along and destroyed our economy). Nevertheless I thought the principle of Shute's idea might provoke an interesting debate. Do you see any merit in his concept and, if so, what criteria would you suggest?

  Armchair 15:11 12 May 2009

Sounds good to me. An escape from public responsibility. I would only get one vote, so probably wouldn't bother voting at all. I would know that my vote was valued a lot less than others, and feel even more worthless than I do now..

  Spark6 15:29 12 May 2009

I would qualify for three, whether I would bother to use them in the current climate is doubtful.

  ccjjl82 15:37 12 May 2009

Yes I think there should be a sort of 'criteria' for MPs. In my opinion they have no concept of the real world, what its like to have to survive on minimum wage etc. So maybe this should be something to consider? Many of these MPs come straight from uni into politics (theyre not daft, its where the money is! ;)) and I think really they are not mature enough to become MPs, so I think age should be a factor.

  johndrew 15:52 12 May 2009

Given that other `jobs` have minimum age/experience criteria applied it may well be an idea to apply a few to MPs.

Similarly many employers require character references prior to a post being offered an applicant.

A simple example may be a police officer who, I believe, must be over 19 years and have an investigation into character and any past `errors`.

Whilst, perhaps, the Neville Shute list may not work as is, the idea appears to me to warrant a considered judgment.

  oresome 16:15 12 May 2009

There is already a well established system in place. No need to invent a new one.

You may help to elect an MP, but most of the electorate have little sway over his or her behaviour from that point on.

To influence, you'll need advise from someone in the upper chamber. That might cost £100k for their 'research' for starters. Then there's one or two dinner parties to fund and a sizeable donation to the Party to make.

In no time at all you'll be seen as a jolly good fellow with some interesting ideas well worth consideration.

  Jim Thing 16:58 12 May 2009

"There is already a well established system in place. No need to invent a new one."

Do I take it that you're happy with the current crop of MPs produced by this well-established system then?

It's years since I read 'In The Wet' but IIRC Shute was sorely disenchanted with the post-war dominance of socialism (I seem to remember a vicious caricature of an ignorant left-wing politician). His scheme was aimed at replacing 'one man, one vote' with something he felt would improve the calibre of MPs by weighting the electoral process in favour of those voters whom he thought likely to be mature, responsible citizens.

  Jim Thing 17:03 12 May 2009

Apologies for 'one man, one vote.' 'One person, one vote' seems to lack something IMHO.

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