Over the last 30 years we have created a ‘political class’ of full-time politicians. Not just in central government but also in local government. They have political careers and their careers do not depend upon doing the best for their constituents but on keeping their party bosses, particularly those in London, happy.
Many of them wish to progress in the party hierarchy to become a more senior councillor, MP, Minister or beyond. That is not achieved by standing up for their local communities and clashing with local or national party bosses. Indeed there is so much money in politics and elections these days that they need their political party election machine to get re-elected. I can well recall a conversation with a senior Lincolnshire politician when he explained why he was backing something he was very uncomfortable with saying ‘you cannot bite the hand that feeds you’.
We need a radical change in party and election funding if we are to reverse this trend of ‘career politicians’ disconnected from their communities. The level of authorised spending on election campaigns should be drastically reduced and party funding overhauled. The number of political posts paid for by the public, such as political advisers should be substantially reduced and subject to strong statutory limit. We should seriously question whether the cabinet style of local government and the hefty payments received by a small handful of politicians has served us well.
The degree to which political parties want to control those in public positions can be starkly demonstrated over the border in Cambridgeshire where the conservative party were originally going to back an independent candidate for the post of Police Commissioner. When they realised that when the candidate said he would not join the party he meant it, he was promptly deselected.
The failure of strong local leadership in Lincolnshire has cost the county dear. It has the worst funded NHS in the country and the worst funded police force. It is often said that you could stick a blue rosette on a donkey and it would win in Lincolnshire. And that is the crux of the problem. Nationally the conservatives know they will always win here, Labour know they never could – and so the county gets ignored. If you want attention you need to be in a marginal constituency.
You’re better able to stand up for Lincolnshire if you’re not looking over your shoulder, blindly implementing policies coming out of London or having an eye to developing your own ‘political career’.
Its time we had more politicians in Lincolnshire who are independently minded and who will put Lincolnshire First.