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I don’t usually blog about politics, but here goes.

Last week I read an excellent article on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation project. I had a very minor part in this project a few years ago when I was at the RSPB, and it is great to see the conservation of the Critically Endangered Spoonie making significant and steady progress. One of the things that really stands out for me is the collaborative approach taken by the large number of range states and partners involved in the work, from Arctic Russia, through the Yellow Sea and into Bangladesh and Myanmar, supported by conservationists around the globe. Since reading the article and pondering about collaboration in conservation, it got me thinking that politicians really need to start taking lessons on working together.

With a group of politicians, including mine (Mike Gapes), breaking away from their parties and saying they want to see a new kind of politics, without actually saying what they are going to do differently, I thought I’d come up with some suggestions that they could champion:

  1. Build a new purpose-built parliament that is fit for the 21st Century and turn the current Houses of Parliament into a museum of politics and democracy
  2. MPs to be renamed as People’s Representatives so they are continually reminded that they represent their constituents (not lobbyists, big business, or even their political party)
  3. The new People’s Parliament building to have the main chamber as a circle so we breakdown the notion of opposition, and promote a more collaborative discourse in politics. An additional chamber within the new Parliament building to house some sort of junior Parliament for under 16s
  4. MPs, sorry People’s Representatives to sit in the main chamber in alphabetical order, not in party groupings. Even those on the so called front benches. PRs to call each other by their names, ie Caroline Lucas, not the Right Honourable member for wherever.
  5. Electronic voting – can you believe in 21st Century Britain MPs have to walk through a lobby. I remember watching the series of votes on amendments linked to the UK leaving the EU a few weeks back and the archaic ritual took more than an hour! What a waste of time, and essentially tax-payers money
  6. Get rid of PMQs which is a complete waste of time as the PM never answers a question. Replace it with a People’s Question Time, when members of the public can be selected (somehow) to attend Parliament and ask questions (unscripted) of the PM. In the new People’s Parliament there should be a substantial public gallery where people can watch proceedings easily
  7. Parliament to sit for 3 days a week, Tues-Thurs. Monday’s and Fridays are days when MPs should be in their constituency
  8. Once a month, or quarter, the leaders of Scottish, Welsh, and NI assemblies to address the People’s Parliament on matters of interest to the U.K. This could even be extend to Mayors of major cities addressing issues related to their city affected by national policies
  9. All MPs, People’s Representatives, to have a free vote on all issues, so that they are actually representing their constituents not their party hierarchy
  10. Proportional Representation voting system so that every vote matters
  11. An independent fact checking panel made up of civil servants to fact check what MPs say in Parliament and whenever they are doing official MP business such as media interviews. If we want a functioning democracy, the truth has to be at the heart of it.

Now, I’m no expert in politics, but none of these above suggestions seem too difficult to implement. We need more collaboration not opposition in politics. Maybe our politicians could learn something from the collaborative efforts to save a tiny wader with a funny shaped bill on the other side of the planet?

Photo credit: image taken from the UK Parliament website

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