As the constitutional impasse continues and people reflect on five years of country status, a remark made by NA leader William Marlin on Oral Gibbes Live caught the attention. He was talking about political instability and the phenomenon of “ship-jumping” that has been so prevalent since 10-10-10.
In his opinion a revision made to the electoral laws whereby seats – then in the Island Council and now in Parliament – are given out according to the number of individual votes and no longer according to positions on candidate lists has something to do with it. Marlin said this even though it was his late party colleague Edgar Lynch who championed the adjustment because it was considered more democratic, which takes nothing away from the fact that the deceased is generally recognised as having been a genuinely honest, able and kind politician.
The point is that in the past people usually earned their positions high on the lists with a greater chance of being elected into office over time not only based on their personal support, but also loyalty to the party, its principles, ideology, leaders, board and membership. This automatically meant a greater degree of structure and control within local political organisations.
The way things are now, it was explained, budding politicians tend to pick and choose whatever slate gives them the best shot at a seat, based, for example, on how many other major vote-getters expected to do well are already on it. As a result, these persons tend to represent first and foremost themselves, not so much the party they use as their platform.
A lot has been said about the rule that seats in the legislature in effect belong to those occupying them as a contributing factor to the current problems. However, any system whereby members are forced to resign in case of a conflict with the party or its fraction goes against the oath they take to act always in their own good conscience.
On the other hand, the aforementioned “Lynch Law,” as it is often called, conceivably could be reversed quite easily, to help political organisations regain the relative strength they once had. This might allow them to improve their structure and practices too, so they may become the kind of modern, transparent and above all dependable parties that most voters probably would like to see.
The “new majority” now in place would do well to look into this matter seriously and see what can be done. Otherwise, one has to fear there will be no real, lasting change after future elections either.