Should some matters be taken out of the political arena?
The departure, enforced or not, of Sarah Champion from the Labour front bench for an injudicious article in the Sun, got me thinking again about an aspect of politics that seems to me to be in need of revision.
Whether the hapless Ms Champion should have written the article or not, as the relevant party spokesman she was in an impossible position. Either she took the stated view (We have a problem with British-Asian men raping white girls) or she could take the opposite position (There is not a racial problem, it is a few bad apples); most of us would probably subscribe to the view that there is a problem with some British-Asian men with regard to white girls in some places, but this sounds too milquetoast when a blanket statement seems to be required. My point is that I don’t see why every case requires a policy statement. For instance, why should Jeremy Corbyn have to condemn Pres. Maduro if he doesn’t feel like it?
I was taken back to the 70s and 80s and the bipartisan policy that existed with regard to the Irish question (OK, Jeremy didn’t subscribe to it but most MPs did); whether it made the situation less dire I don’t know, but it was felt that the IRA (and others, but less so) was so dangerous that the whole political establishment had to be in agreement. It seems to me that in matters of public safety this is perfectly reasonable, and, further, that party politics is redundant anyway where practical matters of policing and defence are concerned. Which made me wonder where else this might apply.
The obvious other example of where ideology is deeply unhelpful would, I suggest, be immigration. It’s easy to see where partisan positions don’t work by looking at the way in which oppositions approach government policy, and, over immigration, oppositions will pick on irrelevancies such as numbers or profit and loss calculations rather than concluding that this is not a political issue, but a functional one. I’m not saying it’s easy to solve, but bogus party arguments hinder the creation of a set of principles or methods for addressing the issue.
So my suggestion would be to take immigration, defence, policing and any other issues relating to public safety or social disorder out of the Westminster arena – it would mean a more mature debate on the way forward and less blurring of other issues (obviously Brexit for one). It would still leave a lot of room for ideological differences over how to govern, economically, socially and administratively, but could defuse some of the more toxic questions, not least because it would remove the more implausible claims made by either side.
If this argument has any merit, it would be interesting to see if it could be taken further. Your move.