So, after watching the current state of political debate both at home and abroad, I’ve been pondering the tricky issue of political reform and public engagement in the process. Currently we’re faced with bland talking heads, boring procedure and a sense of helplessness and disenfranchisement in the system. We need to make the political debate more robust and meaningful, reducing political point-scoring and name-calling. We need to increase public interest and their sense of involvement in the political process, and we need to believe that the politicians we elect actually believe in their policies and aren’t just cynically trying to grab as much money and power for themselves and their cronies as they can.
In short, what we need is Parliamentary Deathmatch.
Want to submit something to the speaker? Go ahead, but first you have to get past the oppositions gladiators. Want to ask the PM a question? Fine, but you and he must fight, and if he wins, he doesn’t have to answer the question. Want to delay a vote, or force an issue? Fight. And we should be allowed to bet on the results.
This achieves a number of things. First off, if any parliamentary debate contained the possibility of having an MP beheaded and his head borne around the House of Commons on a pike while the victor gets to address the chamber covered in the steaming blood and entrails of his enemy, I think people would be more interested. Certainly the TV coverage would be more extensive, and the additional revenue generated could be used to fill the black hole in public finance.
Secondly, it’d make damn sure that the people involved in politics really wanted to be there. Thirdly, it’d thin the ranks of the fat, snoozing bench-warming clowns we currently have and ensure that British politics remains vital and energetic. And allowing people to bet on the results of any parliamentary combat ensures their full engagement in the process.
Oh, and just to make things interesting, actually getting to parliament should be made more… interesting as well, possibly by placing the House of Commons debating chamber inside some sort of lethal labyrinth full of changing corridors and horrific deathtraps. You know, just to ensure that it’s not just the strong who get to represent us, but the cunning as well.
This would also make by-elections more interesting. After all “we’re having an election because the current MP was found dead due to auto-erotic asphyxiation with a satsuma up his bottom” is significantly less interesting than “we’re having an election because the current MP succeeded in dodging the poison-tipped spears, the Death Pygmies and the Scything Blades of Agonising Death(tm), but failed to avoid the Ball of Doom and is now moonlighting as the colour scheme in a tunnel 15 feet high and over a mile and a half long”.
Mad? Sure. Evil? Possibly. Necessary? You betcha.
You see, as the system stands now, these corrupt buggers (and they are all, every frigging one of them, corrupt to some degree) enjoy the trappings of power with very few responsibilities and almost no personal cost. So why not make sure they earn their power, and what more personal cost than blood?
You know it makes sense!