I predict that David Davis is going to become and remain something of a regular thorn in David Cameron’s side. Obviously, he has one eye on being the next Prime Minister and, as such, he will do his best to step-forward as the champion of the already disaffected Conservative right. In addition to his defence of Andy Coulson, what made the news headlines was his claim that the leadership of the Conservatives is out of touch with the common voter.
There’s no doubt in my mind that David and George both care about those issues – about the issues that matter to ordinary people. But they are who are they are – they come from their own background, they don’t actually come from backgrounds where they had to scrape for the last penny at the end of the week.”
Clearly, by implication, Davis doesn’t have this problem so maybe he should be included to ‘bring this to the top table’ as he argues Coulson did. Of course, many reading this will say what Davis is saying has a ring of truth; especially with regard to the Conservative Party. However, it’s my submission that it’s pretty much true of the entire political spectrum. Labour isn’t exactly well endowed when it comes to MPs with a working class background either. Alan Johnson is the only one who really stands out and his politics has moved so far away from these roots it’s easy to forget that was true of him.
Representative politics does not encourage people from a working class background or even particularly a middle class background to enter it. One of the undoubted reasons for this is the cost of campaigning both in time and and money. Of course, there is a degree to where the Party machine will help you here. However, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, can you really afford to take the time off required to fight a successful campaign and win? This assumes your employer would be understanding and supportive when it comes to your political ambitions and that is quite a large assumption. One of the reasons I oppose things like the primary method of candidate selection is they are costly and therefore more exclusive in terms of who would have the means to stand.
Also, the culture of politics is exclusionary and this is especially true within Labour which operates on an internal system of favours, and if your face fits. Although the unions in some way act to correct this, they also prefer to support those from within their own ranks rather than look outside to find fresh talent. So, while it’s OK for Ed Miliband to sting Mr Cameron at PMQs using the words of David Davis, what practically is he doing to ensure the same problems do not occur in Labour?
He could, and should, revive the Labour Diversity Fund which aimed to tackle some of these problems at one of their root causes — the financial position of people. If he won’t, the unions should organise something similar to promote diversity within Labour’s ranks. Rather than sponsoring Labour MPs they should promote more from within their own ranks, and insist their representatives take only a workers wage and are subject to recall. We have to stop our politics becoming the sole preserve of the socially privileged. If we don’t this will become yet another thing that eats away at the core of our democracy, such as it is, until, thoroughly rotten, it simply crumbles into thin air.