As the BBC prepares for the renegotiation for its settlement from the licence fee (assuming that is to continue) it is in the process of consulting with the public to better understand what we might wish them to provide for us as listeners and viewers. Most days as I drive to and from work, a message is played reminding listeners that this 10 year review is approaching. It is clear from the various news items I have heard over recent months that the corporation is considering a range of major changes to their broadcast output and even their governance. All of this work is being carried out before the Government has its own debates and votes on its own proposals for the broadcaster. While the BBC is a vital part of the UK, they could easily be ignored, particularly if one chose not to own a TV or radio. There is always the off button even if we do own such devices. However when it comes to the work of Parliament, it is much harder to imagine how one could ignore the decisions of our elected representatives, even if we personally chose not to vote. The decisions taken by MPs every year impacts on all parts of society and although we theoretically get to choose who represents us, we have no say over how they represent us and how Parliament itself functions. Such decisions are taken by the MPs and their unelected colleagues in the Lords with no recourse to our own views. The closest we get to being consulted have been when the speaker has sought to listen to citizens on subjects of his choosing.
Surely it is time for this to change? I am delighted that the broadcaster which I spend most of my listening and watching time, is to invite me to make suggestions regarding its future, and that my MP along with 649 others will debate the future for this public service broadcaster. However by comparison to Parliament and its influence, the BBC despite its sense of authority and access to my home and car, is a tiny minnow. I am one of few people in the UK who has voted for the winning MP in my constituency at every election since 1997 (with the exception of 2010 when I voted for Nancy and Caroline was elected). Prior to 1997, my vote for Labour was as effective as a most of the betting slips in a bookmakers. However although I have no complaints about my own MP, I do have concerns about the environment she works in and the decisions taken by some of her colleagues. However apart from asking Caroline to do what she does even more effectively there is no opportunity for my views or those of other electors to effect change over Parliament as a whole. If there was a regular review of Parliament, convened by those outside of the daily work of the institution, without any link to the overly dominant Political Parties, perhaps we could see some real change. Just like the change being proposed for the BBC, the impact on those directly affected will be uncomfortable, but the end result should be an organisation that is much more suited to the needs of the UK residents and citizens.