Exit ,Voice and Loyalty – the Poll Tax Syndrome

In the Observer on the 14th July 2013 Andrew Rawnsley wrote and article, “The numbers that add up to trouble for political parties”. The article was excellent in charting the decline of the membership of political parties but did not address the reasons for the decline. Albert Hirschman the economist in Exit, Voice and Loyalty mapped out the options facing voters in responding to the failure of their political parties; they can leave, complain and get things changed, or accept in silence. There is  the further matter of the decline in voting at general elections. The turnout for the general election in 1950 was 83.9%  and in 2010 it was 65.1%. For European Parliament elections the turnout was 38.4% in 2004 and 34.7% in 2009. The problem is the sclerotic thinking of all the three major political parties; they all suffer from “Poll tax syndrome” – a failure to listen to the electorate. For example the House of Lords reform has been left to fester by successive governments. There are 760 unelected people in the House of Lords as against 650 elected members of Parliament. Furthermore Sara Wollaston was elected MP for Totnes after winning the UK’s first American-style primary election open to every voter in Totnes for the conservative candidacy. Four years later there has been no movement on getting “real people “elected, in fact the coalition have shelved plans to extend this to 200 constituencies. Labour is entrenched in its old ways whatever the gloss of “New Labour” implies. Clearly if you complain it is too deaf ears and any loyalty evaporates with the intransigence of all parties to political reform.  The real danger is if the turnout of the electorate continues its downward trajectory. Politicians will always try and pin the blame on someone else,  probably the electorate, but in this case this malaise and its treatment rests entirely with the politicians.

Attached documents (click to download)

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