We are faced with a promise of more democracy in the proposed constitutional reform statement made in the House of Representatives. But this promise may cause us, as a nation, more grief than we can now contemplate.
Does not a candidate for a seat get selected by a party? How will the community get its wish? Special interest groups organise to ensure that the party represents them more than “the people”. Where does the campaign money come from? The people in the community or moneyed interests? After elections, they line up to recoup their investments.
Who has the power? The MP or the Government senator or the special purpose boards, etc? What has been our experience? Will voting out an MP really change our everyday life? For example, is Anil’s departure going to help us get better lives? The party rolls on.
How is the voice of the people organised to “recall” an MP? We have the recent full-page ads attempting to create a civil society board. Is it that our NGOs will now be the new party groups? Will the man in the street or the social club have the money and the skills to get a petition going to unseat an MP? What has been the history of community groups protesting their treatment in this country? What will change the balance of power?
There has been long and deliberate underfunding/sidelining of key institutions designed to protect the poor man in the street from political leadership. Who cares about the Ombudsman or the Integrity Commission or the maligned Salaries Review Commission or even the Auditor General?
How will the proposals help us have a better life when the institutional infrastructure is decaying?
How does one scrutinise the work of an MP? With the rise of social media, trolls abound to further a central message that is a party line. One only has to listen to the radio or read the online comments to see the orchestrated hand at work.
Parties in power have shown they are not averse to economic blackmail of mainstream media.
This provision will cut two ways: it would make the MPs more compliant to the Prime Minister and it would open the floodgates for more economic and social disruption as the Opposition is attacked via this means.
This would happen since the game would change to creating petitions of recall to hamstring MPs so that no work gets done but it would be election after election. Unfounded allegations will be par for national discourse as we saw in the heated Chaguanas West bye-election and its fallout. The content of national conversation will hit an all-time low with bitterness abounding.
When tough times come, do we succumb to the popular will even when it is not the right thing to do? Will we ever see another George Chambers or Selby Wilson to give the necessary medicine?
Why should we want this recall option? Let the prime ministers manage their affairs since all we want is to be able to recall the entire Government when they are not acting on our collective behalf.