Journalist, Ian Dunt, offers a withering analysis of the dysfunctional British political system.

"One of the core features of the British system, at every level, is that no one knows what they're talking about," says Dunt.

"And if by accident someone who does know what they're talking about finds themselves in a senior position, they're quickly moved on."

In his book, How Westminster Works...and Why It Doesn't, Dunt chronicles the problems, from a selection system for MPs that ensures many inappropriate people end up in Parliament to the country being run out of a 17th century terraced house (10 Downing Street).

Ministers and civil servants are all moved rapidly on before they have a chance to get to grips with their portfolios. This results in crazy ideas being implemented, which by the time the true impact is realised the minister has long since moved on.

Dunt illustrates the point, using the example of Chris Grayling's career as Justice minister, privatising ( destroying) the probation system.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Cllr Paul Donovan has been looking at the workings of ParliamentCllr Paul Donovan has been looking at the workings of Parliament

The House of Commons has been effectively gutted as a place where government business is scrutinised. The brutal whips system ensures for the most part MPs don't step out of line. Most are lobby fodder, with little capacity for  independent thought - this of course also goes back to selection process.

The select committees in the House of Commons and the House of Lords are the only bodies exercising a proper scrutiny function on government business.

Some will have been lucky enough to attend the session with Ian Dunt during the Wanstead Fringe. He enlarged on the themes in the book, including highlighting how things could change.
He suggests a public primaries system for MP selection and the introduction of PR.

The prime ministerial function needs to move from the terraced house to a more appropriate premises.

Scrutiny powers need strengthening, with greater specialism amongst MPs and civil servants.
His ideas are a start.

There certainly needs to be fundamental change.

It was striking attending the Fringe session and reading the book, how many of the issues highlighted resonate at local government level.

Too much of what goes on at all levels is about marginalising people with important skills, reducing important functions to political posturing rather than playing effective roles in governance.

Reform is desperately needed at all levels to revive our fading democracy. More people genuinely representing communities across the land need to be persuaded to come forward. Then, once elected, supported and encouraged to take an active part in governance.

It will take a huge effort to effect such change but things cannot continue in the present regressive state for much longer.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (