The idea that we must understand our problems, before we can put them right is well understood, what is often less clear is knowing the solution and making the changes needed. Take the issue of our faith in politics and politicians. It is clear that many of the people involved in politics want to be popular and have our confidence in their hard work. According to this BBC article, the Conservative Party MWAs or Members of the Welsh Assembly have identified that there is less faith in Welsh politics than they would wish, and they have suggested some ways of addressing this.
This interest in improving matters may in part reflect the fact that the Conservatives are one of the smaller parties in the Welsh Assembly, perhaps if they were the leading group like their Westminster cousins they might be more willing to overlook this problem. The Westminster Parliament is seen as being increasingly irrelevant, yet the Government is more focused on matters that seem to maintain the status quo of the institution than investigating what electors actually want. Indeed the language used by all of the Political Parties tells us all we need to know. They constantly refer to what they have been told in their doorstep canvassing at an earlier point as justification for what they have decided to do. This immediately sends the message that these well connected and experienced Politicians do not need to hear any more, they are confident in their own minds regarding what is needed. Its a subtle way of justifying actions that can never be proven wrong, because they did what their constituents told them. The evidence for me that this is a betrayal of common sense is that we never hear a Politician relaying a story from the door step that persuaded them to do things differently. The closest we get to it is the MPs who speak about excessive letter writing campaigns and then use this apparently disproportionate level of interest in the issue concerned to explain that there has been a concerted attempt by a large minority to influence a policy that is in the best interests of the country (or will deliver world peace) and so they will do what they intended to do all along.
I have done my own fair share of door step interviews. They are a great way of speaking to people in an area and leave at least one member of each of the households visited aware of your campaign, and either a very inspiring conversation which energises you both, or a very dispiriting conversation which leads the canvasser wishing that door had not been answered like most of the other doors. However this is not a way of gathering reliable data that allows you to set policy that can be argued to be representative of all of the people in a given area. That requires some science and questions that go deeper than peoples initial reaction to the person keeping them from whatever they were doing before the doorbell rang. That is why we have polling organisations who can reduce the risk of preconceived notions dominating the outcome. Back in Wales the MWAs believe that changing the time of the First Ministers Questions from 1.30 in the afternoon to a later time will increase the number of people watching. They also want the First Minister to submit themself to the scrutiny of Westminster. This would certainly get the Minister more profile and greater understanding amongst people like me. However I cannot understand how that will assist welsh voters to feel more interested in welsh politics.
It is clear that the faith in politics in England and Wales is lower than it could be. It is probably so low that little could be done to make it much worse. This suggests that any idea is worth considering, although if changing the time or location of the existing tired scrutiny processes is the boldest the MWAs have got, perhaps they are part of the problem. What is critical is for them to ask their electors in a manner that really does gather their ideas. There is some truism from my friend Emma who believes that the solutions needed are not actually that new. For my own part the stranglehold dominance of the Party structures is a big problem, if there were 10%-15% Independent MPs or MWAs in the Parliaments then the decisions taken would be a great deal less certain and the need for the Parties to gain support for their ideas outside of the party members would substantially change the debate. However the electoral system is so weighted in favour of the Parties that this is where change is needed in the first instance. That is my view!. Sadly the parties don’t seem interested in my view or yours, they only want to listen to their own wisdom, as heard on a doorstep somewhere as yet unknown.