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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

so much spin on political representation « Previous | |Next »
September 6, 2010

The Australian finds academics who argue that the role of Independents should simply reflect the majority views of their electorate. They quote Edmund Burke to justify their claim that representatives are delegates who simply follow the expressed preferences of their constituents.

This ignores that Burke holds to the trustee conception of representation and he defends o the independence of representatives, on the grounds that individual conscience provided the best basis for political judgment. In his Speech To The Electors Of Bristol At The Conclusion Of The Poll (1774) Burke says:

Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interest each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole… You choose a member, indeed; but when you have chosen him he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of Parliament.

The delegate conceptions of representation require representatives to follow their constituent's preferences, while trustee conceptions require representatives to follow their own judgment about the proper course of action. Representatives should think of the common good and not be primarily concerned with the narrower interests of their particular constituents.

The Coalition fills in the detail on the delegate conception of political representation. Since the Independent's electorates are conservative so the three regional Independents should support the Coalition. It would be ''inconceivable'' for the rural trio to side with the ''most left-wing government'' in the nation's history. As they are maverick National Party MPs rather than true independents, so they should come home to the conservative homeland.

The spinners (eg., Parker and Partners) say that:

The community appears frustrated that the government is being so publicly held hostage by a handful of vested interests, and the risk for the independents is that they are now perceived to have overplayed their hands.

Which vested interests are these?

The Independents work with a delegate conception of the nature of political representation. It is being made very clear by them that, apart from parliamentary reform, their central concern is to embed the power of regional Australia for the long term in the context of globalization. Tony Windsor has stated that their mechanism to achieve this is through changes to the structure of government: they want a minister for regional development; beefing up Regional Development Australia so that it has more money and clout; and a parliamentary committee to monitor what is done.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:37 AM | | Comments (3)
Comments

Comments

Yes,
Wiltshire teeters to the brink, but just can't quite bring himself to implement the final betrayal.
Instead we get Burke sought out as sanctuary after the misemploy of his thinking, in the final para, which retreats to the famous quote that:
"All that is needed for evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing".

Helen Pringle in One of the three musketeers at On Line Opinion says that Rob Oakeshott's record in federal parliament indicates that his conservatism is very different to that of the National Party:

s conservatism is of a very different kind from that of, say, Mark Vaile. Like his namesake the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, the member for Lyne is a conservative in his care for concrete human experience rather than for brute abstractions. This perspective on what matters suggests that Oakeshott, perhaps unlike the other musketeers, will make trouble for whichever side of politics he comes to support. And that kind of trouble is a very good thing in politics.

Things need to be stirred up.

Bob Katter was the star attraction on the ABC's Q+ A last night. He took full advantage of it to present his case that bad things were happening in north Queensland as a result of our Woolworths and Coles democracy and embrace of economic rationalism.