Whenever a particularly sensitive subject such as the NHS, education or the police comes up in debate, it is quickly followed by calls for ‘politics’ or ‘party politics’ to be kept out of it. Especially from independent candidates who are actually just saying it for, well, political gain.
We then get talk that ‘cross-party’ or non-political bodies led by ‘experts in their field’ should be set up to get on with the important task of running the what-ever-it-is, then politicians can be consigned to dark, dusty cupboards to squabble over their usual meaningless trivia. All the while to the sage nods and approving applause of fellow listeners.
It’s as if they think that just by handing over the reins and money to ‘someone else’ other than a politician, a bottomless pit of money suddenly becomes available and that organisation can then be free of whatever hinders it to operate smoothly for ever more.
But who would these experts be and how are they accountable if not through the ballot box? Who selects and appoints them? Who oversees their job interviews? Who decides how much money they are allocated? And, who decides how much the top execs get paid, let alone the lowly staff?
Who would argue for or against proposals and have the mandate of the people to decide if not politicians?
All of these organisations would presumably be funded by taxpayers’ money, how else can the taxpayer hold people to account other than through voting? Unless you believe in a dictatorship of the ‘experts’ of course, or you believe that everything should be put into private hands and let the money talk and control instead.
But while people want the politics out of these areas of our lives there are demands that more services be taken under the wing of the state. Nationalising water, rail and power are all favourite topics for some. But, once under public ownership, who would actually control them if not politicians? Who would decide on how much money each received?
Surely any public body needs to be controlled by people who are directly accountable via democracy to the people – and they’re called politicians.
Can you imagine an NHS where politicians could starve it of funds but try to avert the blame for failings because ‘someone else’ was in charge? That would never hold water would it?
Anyway, at the end of the day, all a politician has to do is say that they will put more money into something than his opposite number will and Hey Presto! It’s politicised! And come election time that’s exactly what would happen, the fellowship of those cross party committees would be long forgotten.
In truth, things like the NHS, Police and Education are central to our political debate. They decide how our society moves forward and surely the best way for this to happen is in the open crucible of democracy with the people able to hire and fire via the ballot box.