Examination of Witness (Questions 100-109)|
THURSDAY 7 MARCH 2002
100. What do you mean?
(Mr Bragg) A politician's answer. To come back to
a point that you raised Anthony D that name makes you sound like
a rapperyou said something about me running for office.
This is a bit of a cliché but nonetheless it is true, politics
is too important to be left to politicians. It is as much about
those of us who are outside the closed circle talking among ourselves,
organising among ourselves, bringing pressure on you people. That
is as much part of the political process as what you people do
across the road there.
101. But the political process is very important.
Without politicians there would be anarchy perhaps?
(Mr Bragg) Without?
102. Without politicians.
(Mr Bragg) I am not saying we should abolish the political
class per se. I am talking about how we draw people in
who are not willing to go through the difficult process of selection.
There is something in your report where you state that one of
the reasons why you want to keep appointment for the House of
Lords is because you doubt whether people would want to stand
for election. It is pretty much a rough and tumble process, as
you will know if you have ever been approached by someone dressed
as a Roman centurion while you have been on the stump. I accept
exactly what you are saying about the weirdness of people who
put themselves through that process. If we were using a list system
and proportional representation for the second chamber they would
not have to go through that process. They could be elected through
the list without having to go out on door steps. Frankly, I think
we would be doing them a favour because if somebody turned up
on my doorstep and said, "Vote for me, I am one of 60 per
cent of the people who are going to scrutinize on your behalf",
I would be saying to them, "If you really want to do something
about it perhaps you should become an MP."
103. Talking about House of Lords' reform, as
a politician I think it is wonderful that we are taking this on
board and it is certainly long overdue, but do the general public
really see that as an important topic? NHS waiting lists and education
are the issues that people will go and vote for; House of Lords'
reform is not an issue.
(Mr Bragg) I think you are right. Again, it is not
a bread and butter issue. I do not think it is as important as
reforming the NHS or education, I completely accept that, but
it is a high profile issueIf you want to address the present
mistrust that people have about politics in general and the cynicism
they direct towards people in your profession, then it is an important
issue if you wish to do something about that. That is one area
where you can say, "We are going to change this, open this
up, and let daylight come into this, bring in people from the
regions. We are capable of changing and your sense of us being
a bunch of "
104. We can make up the rest!
(Mr Bragg) You can. If you really want to address
that, then it is a key issue and that is the way to do something
that is high profile enough to get the electorate's attention.
Look at how much attention was garnered by Lord Stevenson's recommendations
through the Appointments Commission. Many, many people read about
that. If you were opening it up and bringing those people in,
I think you would find it became very, very popular and the way
they voted and the way they disported themselves in the chamber
would suddenly become a very public issue.
105. We cannot disenfranchise a large proportion
of the general public in terms of a lower age limit that you would
set. If you are talking about 25-year-olds
(Mr Bragg) I would say 18-year-olds would be better
as the voting age. I was just using that as an example. I would
like to see more young people visible. I suppose it comes back
to what we were talking about before about the way you present
yourselves. It is about the visibility of politicians. How do
you make yourself more visible without resorting to the Screaming
Lord Such image? How do you bring your different faces and your
different voices in? That is a problem. If you look at the experience
of the Scottish and the Welsh Assemblies and the election for
the Mayor of London, it was the alternative voices that eventually
came to the fore. It was those people who were from outside, not
outside the political process per se obviously, but outside
what the Prime Minister/the Government wanted, who eventually
came through, and that was because people were engaged. They saw
that there was an opportunity to express themselves in a different
way. People did go out and vote for Ken Livingston because they
had been given the opportunity to register how they felt about
the situation in London and they went out and did that. The way
things have gone in Scotland and in Wales does show that when
you give people the choice and give them the opportunity to express
a different point of view, they will express that different point
of view. It may not be a radically different one. The difference
between Rhodri Morgan's leadership of the Labour Group in Wales
is not that different from his predecessors. The thing that made
him so much a focus for the press and the electorate was that
he was Wales' man; he was not London's man. If you can give people
more opportunity to feel that the person they put in, even though
he is a Labour Party member, even though he is a long-term politician,
is their man. With Rhodri he is felt to be their man. I think
that is so important.
106. We must end there. The Clerk, who is obviously
a man with history, tells me that Anthony D could easily be a
(Mr Bragg) More of a rap name actuallyhe is
showing his agebut I have already said that into the record.
Chairman: We will never see him in quite the
same way again.
107. I mentioned the fact that at times I like
to dress down. Are there any times when you dress up?
(Mr Bragg) The last time I wore a tie, and it was
an NUM tie, I was being arraigned for cutting a fence at a nuclear
installations in Norfolk, so court appearances, funerals, those
kinds of things.
108. There is no way of saying this without
sounding pompous and middle aged, but you are the antidote to
cynicism and you are a voice that we need to listen to. We are
grateful for hearing your views.
(Mr Bragg) I appreciate that. To those of you who
are hoping to listen to my voice, I must say I have a new album
out this week!
109. It got four stars in The Guardian.
I hope tonight's gig goes as good as this one.
(Mr Bragg) I am sure it will. Thank you very much
for having me. I appreciate this opportunity to come and speak
to you. Thank you very much for inviting me.