IN the UK political system there seems to be no set standards pertaining to what should happen when an elected MSP, MP or councillor leaves or otherwise no longer belongs to the party that they were elected to represent.

In recent years we have seen a number of prominent national politicians, as well as minor local ones, leaving their parties but remaining in their elected positions. In some cases they may remain superficially independent, still voting alongside their former colleagues while some scandal or other settles down.

In other cases they will cross the floor and join with another party entirely (or remain on the face of it independent whilst supporting them in every other manner). In some cases they will remain absent from parliament.

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Whenever such an act occurs there is usually shouting from members and supporters of the party they have left that they should “do the decent thing”, stand down and hold a by-election. This is a hypocritical stance as almost every party contains some representatives who have done the same thing.

We, the people, seem however to be left out of this whole process and there is a real democratic deficit which should be addressed. We understandably lose trust in the politicians and the political system when such an act takes place.

I feel that it is now time that the Scottish Parliament addressed this and rebalanced the issue in the favour of the people and make the “decent thing” a legal requirement. We cannot reform Westminster, but we can clean up the Scottish system. We need to see the introduction of a level playing field, where going forward every elected representative of the people knows that if they are elected on a party ticket – using that party’s financial resources and using the efforts of that party’s members who go round and leaflet and campaign on their behalf – then should they no longer represent that party in any way, shape or form, then that contract is broken and a by-election should be triggered.

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In such a case they are then free to return to the people and gain a new mandate, as an independent candidate or as a member of another party. It is for that reason that I have submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament to address this very issue, and it can be found on the Scottish Parliament website, petition number PE1987.

Let us be brutally honest here though. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas. Barely any of our elected politicians will support this act, which is why it is now being put to the people of Scotland through a petition. Politicians will always seek to insulate themselves from the will of the people. Whether this petition succeeds or fails, ultimately it will reveal whether our politicians in Scotland are acting in the people’s interest or their own. I would encourage anyone who wishes to see a parliament which works in a morally proper fashion and which puts the people before the politicians to sign this petition before the closing date of 6th December 2022.

James Cassidy

CAN anyone explain to me why Boris Johnson has not had the parliamentary whip taken from him, or even better an election in his constituency?

He has been absent from work for weeks, apparently on holiday, then he goes to COP27 courtesy of the New York Times – again absenting himself from work.

Can you imagine the rage of the Tories if a doctor, nurse, fireman, shop worker, indeed anyone, did this while supposedly being paid to do a job?

It just proves, once again – one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

Winifred McCartney