Thursday, 15 April 2010
Lord Pearson's vision for UKIP
In a remarkably frank interview with Iain Dale in 'totalpolitics', Lord Pearson outlined his plans for UKIP.
Perhaps the most innovative measure proposed is his wish to campaign on the single issue of Direct Democracy at the General Election. This does make a lot of sense insofar as it seems more likely that the voters will come out in their, necessary, droves to vote for a party which offers them the right to have some control of the political class - rather than in support of an in/out referendum on our membership of the EU.
This is particularly the case after the 'Expenses Scandal' has left voters with the distinct view that politicians are certainly not their 'betters' but, in many cases, have far less integrity than they do themselves and which they expect from their family and friends.
Whether the form of direct democracy proposed, described in the interview as 'the Daniel Hannan/Douglas Carswell plan' is the most suitable, can be left for another time, however, this is likely to get the electorate to sit up and take notice - once they understand the new powers they are being offered.
Having now seen political debates focusing on the UKIP's proposed burka ban, with Lord Pearson and Nigel Farage, I am becoming increasingly convinced that this policy should be dropped as it is divisive and almost impossible to defend. Presumably some examples of what could be changed by the people through direct democracy will be identified in the package - one of these could be the banning of burkas.
Lord Pearson suggests, in order to achieve a referendum on our membership of the EU through direct democracy, there will need to be a hung parliament and 'a complete re-alignment in British politics' - this does seem a tall order and one which is very unlikely to happen.
The solid commitment to our membership of the EU is unlikely to change within our political class, who will not give up the increased lucrative opportunities for self serving politicians without a fight. Lord Pearson's now rather old fashioned view of a political class whose primary wish is to serve their country is, unfortunately, no longer valid.
Quite why Lord Pearson expects that UKIP, presently little more than a Tory pressure group, would gain the publics trust as the standard bearer of such a fundamental change as the introduction of direct democracy - is something of a mystery. For such a system to be supported by the people, the standard bearer has to be seen as independent and primarily interested in the people - so it is firstly important that the party breaks its ties with the Conservatives so that it can attain this status.
UKIP's natural allies in this battle are the other anti EU parties and groups - also other pressure groups who believe they have programs of change the voters would support, but are not liked by the politicians - so are not likely to see the light of day.
These are early days and it will be interesting to see how the ambition to introduce this significantly different system of politics progresses, however it goes - lets hope that Lord Pearson will not lose his refreshing frankness.