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Narcissists and cliques control the main parties and threaten democracy

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Party democracy is the enemy of representative democracy. Party democracy stops MPs speaking out against racism and warning of the perils facing their country. Party democracy makes politicians put their members ahead of their constituents. Party democracy makes them flatter coteries of arrogant obsessives. Party democracy is the enemy of conscience and judgment. To borrow a phrase, the party has become the enemy of the people.

Who does your MP represent? Who are they frightened of? You and your neighbours? What creaking haycart brought you and the rest of your yokel friends into town? “Control of politics has passed to unelected and irresponsible members,” says the historian Robert Saunders, one of the best analysts of British democracy’s decay. “Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt needs the support of about 70,000-80,000 Tory members to become prime minister. That’s roughly the size of one parliamentary constituency.”

Saunders is shocked that hardly anyone seems to grasp that the next prime minister will be the first to take power without any kind of democratic mandate, however tenuous. Many prime ministers have gone to Downing Street without holding a general election. But they were chosen by MPs, who were elected by, and accountable to, their constituents. Labour party members might have chosen the successor to Tony Blair and Tory members the successor to David Cameron. As it was, Gordon Brown and Theresa May were returned unopposed.

We have had to wait until 2019 for our anti-democratic counter-revolution. Only now will we have a PM chosen by members who are overwhelmingly white, southern, old and wealthy, as everyone says, but also extraordinarily conceited, a point I could do with hearing more........

© The Guardian