LETTER: Political parties are consumer items that no one wants

Mr Pendle is right to expose the dangers and problems inherent in Denis MacShane’s plans to further socially engineer the Labour Party’s candidatures for public office.

There is, however, a serious issue here.

The nature and operation of our democratic system is based upon and dominated by political parties with candidates standing for public office drawn from the membership of the parties.

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The range and ability of candidates is entirely dependent on party membership and over the last 50 years there has been a catastrophic fall in the number of people belonging to political parties.

Membership numbers are now so low I suspect some parties are having real trouble finding suitable candidates from any background, let alone candidates that represent the wonderful and rich diversity of our nation.

Accompanying this has been the managerialism of various political processes and the rise of the professional politician.

I believe that these two factors together have contributed in no small measure to the falsehood and detachment of modern day politics.

I cannot help but think the root cause of the decline in civic engagement and the travails of politics have occurred because the mainstream parties have pandered to corporations and sought to groom voters into consumers rather than citizens.

This is a process that has been under way for decades, long before Mrs Thatcher came to office in 1979, but here’s a question: if consumerism is so wonderful why do shoppers look so miserable?

To be fair, David Cameron has attempted to foster a sense of civic engagement through the idea of “The Big Society”.

I suspect the idea came from one of the “think tanks” so beloved by the Conservative Party but unfortunately the thinking didn’t go far enough.

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Once you privatise and place the market supreme then consumerism becomes dominant and a different set of values take hold.

The idea that you can bolt-on to this “The Big Society” is preposterous. The political parties are now reaping the harvest of the seeds that they have sown.

The supreme irony here is that the political parties have now become consumer items, and a lot of consumers don’t want anything to do with them; and frankly who can blame them?


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