By Norbert Mao
The debate over political nomadism is a healthy one. Crosstitutes are everywhere. The debate about individual choices should also reinvigorate the debate about the role of political parties. Representative democracy needs political parties. That is why some of us campaigned tirelessly for multiparty democracy. But it is not enough to have political parties.
Parties need internal cohesion, internal democracy, farsighted leadership, constructive inter party relations and creative management of internal conflicts. Unlike football leagues where star players are sold and bought, party politics shouldn’t be about mere power. It should also be about convictions. Without conviction, the exercise of power is an absurdity.
Someone once told me that party politics is characterized by three Ds – disloyalty, defiance and defection. Any party has to contend with those three hazards. The party I lead is no exception. Even developed countries have to deal with these hazards.
In 2008 a former US Vice Presidential candidate for the Democrats snubbed Obama and campaigned for the Republican candidate, John McCain. Even the iconic Churchill was a seasoned switcheroo. In 1904, Churchill who was a conservative crossed to the Liberals then crossed back after 20 years. In his defence he said only fools don’t change their minds!
But the record for criss crossing must go to British MP Bob Spink. On 12 March 2008, he left the Conservatives and became Independent. Six weeks later on 22 April 2008 he joined the UK Independent Party (UKIP). By mid-2009 he declared that he didn’t regard himself as UKIP. At that point UKIP also disowned him saying he had not even paid his membership dues.