I’ve found my interest in politics growing recently, driven by dissatisfaction with the poor performance of some elected members and by the close to fraudulent activity that has come from Westminster, elected and hereditary. I suspect that seeing the lack of true support for our Armed Forces, for whom I have a huge affinity, has also irritated me hugely. As has the pointless spin that emanates from Ministers and their aides.
As a result, I’ve watched, listened, wondered and started to question. And the one question that sits uppermost in my mind is: “what is the role of an elected member?”. Allied to this is the need to question what the job description for the role really is and some who’ve read my blogs may recall my views on job roles and tools for the job.
Anyway, back to my main issue: what is their role? I’ve always thought that politicians are elected to represent their constituency. After getting more interest in our political system I’ve begun to realise how naïve this view is. I cannot remember when an elected member that I’ve voted for has appeared to seek my views in order to represent them properly. Instead, his/her party has decided what my views are, or at least the views to be represented.
Now the party conference season has started we are hearing more about what elected members want to see. Statements like: “I want to see …” surely miss the true point of elected members. They are there to shout out loud that “the people who elected me want to see…” for it is their view that matter, not those of the elected member.
As social media becomes more pervasive and we, “the great unwashed” feel that we have both the right and capability to make our views known it really is time for the challenge to be made to elected members to listen more to their electorate.
Engagement is not about surgeries anymore, but about continued communication. And of course, communication is not about blogging or Twittering, it is a mutli-path dialogue that captures and forms opinion over time and sometimes in pretty quick-time.
In a real democracy elected members represent those who did not vote for them just as much as they represent those who did. And they should do this without worrying about the needs of their party machines that helped them to be elected to the role in the first place.
If the principle of the wisdom of crowds will have its day then it is going to use social media to do so. Wise politicians will realise this and then amend their stance to truly represent all those who elected them and will speak on their behalf.