Ordinary people have huge power, they just can’t be asked. Engage and be listened to.
The power lies inside the machines
Isabel Hardman’s book, ‘Why we get the wrong politicians’, said a lot of things to me about politics and how it is inaccessible to most people to which I agreed with for the most part, but my major takeaway was the astonishing statistic on who actually elects your MP and therefore, makes laws and governs the country.
In total, 81 seats changed hands during the 2019 General Election, in which the Conservatives gained a strong majority. That therefore means 569 seats could be described as ‘safe’ or ‘nearly safe’ seats that are highly unlikely to change hands between political parties of any kind – now - or in the next 20 years – to any other party. It’s just a simple truth of the electoral system we live under.
You might think, I live in one of those 569 seats and if we’re honest, I’m never going to have any influence on that vote. None at all and you’re probably right and from the perspective of an economist, you shouldn’t vote. It is a complete waste of money. You’re pretty powerless and it’s a waste of resources in time and fuel, driving to the polling booth.
That being said, this article is not about voting in the ballot box and I’ll leave you to judge whether or not to follow your duty or listen to your stone-cold economic heart.
This article is to let you into a little secret… that if we’re honest is a fairly obvious secret that’s not really a secret…
The point is, every few years, a group of old people (maximum probably 250) are presented with a few options of who to make their next candidate for that constituency in the next general election and because that seat is ‘safe’, effectively they’re choosing their next MP and your new MP because no other party can win in that constituency.
If you really want to have influence on which MP represents your constituency, you should engage with party politics directly. Not through the ballot box, which we term to be a complete waste of your time in political economy, but through the internal party ballot box instead.
Join whoever is the incumbent’s party. Preferably and ideally, you should believe in exactly what the party says.
Let’s be honest, most party members don’t agree with everything their party believes anyway but have some affiliation and be able to entertain small talk on the matter.
So, the little secret is… you can influence UK politics massively. You can be one of those 250 electors that select your next MP and fairly easily. Most party memberships go for less that £25… and in many seats, the set of 250 electors, can be as few as 15.
So, when people riot today, and tomorrow, and next month, and complain they have no voice - they do; they’ve just never before decided to investigate how to actually influence the world outside of Facebook and Instagram stories with Black Screens. I’m not a genius for god’s sake, but I’ve managed to put two simple facts – constituents don’t change hands very often and party memberships are tiny.
To have direct influence on your next MP, go inside the machine and influence it. Get in the room and stop being a bystander who waves a flag every five years and instead, engage with the system. It’s there and surprisingly simple.
Imagine if 50 youths bought a membership and decided to engage… they’d hold massive sway on the next MP and therefore the country. Imagine that…
The other big secret is who elects the Prime Minister and all-party government policy thereafter. The last two Prime Ministers in fact, originally, were elected by internal party ballot and then only later won elections. But I’ll let people figure that one out on their own with the use of Google.
Of course, I’m not suggesting people infiltrate the system because that will cause chaos, but political parties must represent the people otherwise we end up in a state of politics only representing that 250. So, engage in the system – it’s open and welcoming often. It’s not scary. It’s a bit boring sometimes but that’s politics.
But don’t complain your voice is ignored when the door is wide open and instead you went out and screamed at a police officer for 7 hours, went home wet, and accomplished nothing.