POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY THE DAILY TELEGRAPH'S DANIEL HANNAN
'Yet we see the current crop of turncoats...,' a rather unfortunate expression to use as its connotations run counter to much of your argument.
Let's not forget, too, that only a little more than two centuries ago, there really were no political parties as we understand them.
Today's parties are really corporate entities, in every way resembling the multi-corporations who fill our stores with goods. In many aisles of your supermarket, you will find the shelves, despite many names and labels, represent only two or three companies.
Competitive systems over time seem to have a tendency towards oligopoly. It's the story for many industries - cars, soft drinks, cereals, etc, etc. Huge amounts of advertising and marketing are used to differentiate these products and to deter others who do not have such budgets from competing.
Politics is no different, and indeed, the heavy use of advertising serves exactly the same purpose. A man going from one party to another is viewed much as an executive of Coke going to Pepsi with corporate secrets.
In the United States, this trend has gone further than anywhere. Little of substance can be distinguished in the words of Democratic presidential hopefuls to distinguish them from Republicans, yet both sides spend hundreds of millions of dollars to polish the image and drown others, and that's just in getting the nominations. The actual election will be a billion-dollar advertising campaign saying almost nothing of substance.
This is the future of politics in most of the Western world - oligopolistic corporate states only superficially democratic in their operations - unless there are fundamental changes in the governing rules.