The Electoral Commission was established by the last Labour Government. Although it is a relatively recent organisation it has become an accepted and indeed indispensable part of our electoral landscape. In short, the Electoral Commission has responsibility for the smooth running of elections, referendums and electoral registration. The Commission also ensures transparency in political party finance and election finance.
In our political climate voters are less inclined to vote according to ‘class’ and the family tradition of affiliation to a political party is less important. The philosophy and policies of a political party are therefore becoming more important in determining how an individual will cast his/her vote.
At the same time, however, there is an unprecedented level of distrust and cynicism of what politicians say and promise. Increasingly, voters say that they cannot believe political parties.
I am suggesting that we ought to consider the creation of an ‘independent’ body to help tackle this disconnect. This body would be not dissimilar to the Electoral Commission and would have the express responsibility of ensuring that all electors are provided with an ‘objective summary’ of the electoral offer of each party at a given election.
In the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November 2012 households received details of the election and about the role of PCC. There was also a website which will be used again for May’s PCC elections. But the booklet that was sent out for the last elections will not be sent out to households for May.
What I am suggesting is a major extension of what happens with the PCC elections. Labour could advocate the creation of an independent body which would have responsibility for distributing basic election material from the political parties. It could also operate a website which would objectively and clearly set out the central political platform of each party. In short, this new body could form a new interface with the electorate and make a significant contribution to increasing political trust and engagement.
Wayne David MP