Electoral Reform

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

Gordo the Goblin King and his cabinet of all the talentless are giving their support to electoral “reform” that would have seen a swing of over 50 seats from the Conswervatives to Liebour, leaving them with an unassailable lead in perpetuity.

Let’s be very clear about this, politicians should have no involvement in this type of electoral reform because the only people it will benefit are those in control of the British government.

Here’s my wish list for electoral reform:

  1. Devolution for England.  The rest of the UK has it, England should have it too and I don’t mean regional devolution either, I mean national pricing.
  2. Elections for the post of Prime Minister.  Why should the office of Prime Minister be tied to the party system?  Why should independent MPs – elected for their policies and character rather than the party they belong to – be barred from leading the country?  It’s wrong, anyone should be able to run for Prime Minister without selling their soul to a party.
  3. Bring back the hereditary peerage.  The only way to ensure any chance of opposition or impartiality in the House of Lords is if they’re there by accident of birth rather than patronage of the party with a majority in the Commons.
  4. Amendment of the Parliament Act.  If the Lords reject a bill 3 times in one term of parliament then there must be a very good reason.  Allowing the Commons – who are going to vote for whatever will get them elected and/or what their party tells them to do – to simply overrule those objections is wrong.  The Parliament Act should be amended to require a binding public referendum on any bill that is rejected by the Lords 3 times in one term of parliament.
  5. Ban the whip.  MPs are supposed to be elected to represent their constituents, not the interests of their party.  Extremely poor decisions are regularly made by MPs doing what their party tells them to do rather than what they know to be right or what their constituents want.  Parties should be there to form policy, not to force MPs to vote in a particular way.

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  1. axel (1214 comments) says:

    president instead of prime minister? then we need a complete change of government system. The Prime minister would have zero power and power would remain with the party leaders.

    Heredetery peerage, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, why not people called Parr? I know what you mean, we need some arbitry method of choosing random people. What about picking them out the phone book or something?

    No, that seems a bit wanky, do we really want a big vote on some dumb policy decisions? And how much would a bil have to be changed to avoid this fate, which is what they will do or not do, if they want to annoy us? Do you really give a fuck about Dormouse habitats?

    The whip is desifgned to get the MPS move their fat arses out the bars and restuarants in the commons, that was its original purpose.

  2. axel (1214 comments) says:

    I think the up coming publishing of MPs expences will be a good thing, it will remove a lot of fat slug career politicians and I think it will change the house for the better

  3. axel (1214 comments) says:

    also a change from the first past the post electoral system is needed too. You do have a big advantage here as there are 3 concurrent systems running, so you can pick one that works!

  4. Charlie Marks (365 comments) says:

    I agree with the first and second – but herediTORY peers? How undemocratic. Better to have a parliament and a constitution that recognises the people are sovereign and can repeal laws (people’s veto) as well as demand them (citizens’ initiative) through petitions triggering referenda.

    And as for banning the whip – “Parties should be there to form policy, not to force MPs to vote in a particular way.” – totally agree.

  5. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    It wasn’t a Freudian typo. 😉

    Take the current bill on creating human embryos that’s about to go before parliament as an example – who do you think is likely to make the most representative and morally right decision on that bill? Mr career politician with an impending by-election or Lord such and such who doesn’t have to worry about upsetting his party or any potential bad publicity? Pressure groups can make or break an MP, that’s why lobbyists are so successful. An hereditary upper house with the party structure excised would be the only way of ensuring there was some opposition to the Commons. People won’t vote for one party in the Commons and another in the Lords, they’ll vote the same party into power in both houses and then there’ll be no opposition to stupid bills that are designed only to attract votes or to suppress civil liberties.

  6. axel (1214 comments) says:

    1) yeah oki, why not.

    2)Hmmmmmmmmmmm, how would a Prime Minister do anything? With out a parlimentary majority, he is just another fat toad in the big room.

    3)I know what you mean by why not people called Parr or people from the phonebook?

    4)No, when a bill gets rejected, it is modified and then re submitted, so effectively it is a new bill and do we really give a fuck about boring things like Dormouse habitatas?

    5)If the Whips are banned how are we going to get our fat toad MPs out of the bars and cafes in the house or indeed wake them up?

  7. Charlie Marks (365 comments) says:

    Yes but my point was that opposition would be able to come from the people – through petitions triggering referenda. What I am imagining is a mixture of representative and participatory forms of democratic government. As for the Lords as opposition – in over 18 years of Tory rule the Lords only opposed the government on a few occasions…

  8. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Axel, Akismet marked all your comments as spam for some reason, I thought you’d been quiet recently. To answer your question, the whips keep the MPs in the bars to avoid them hearing things that might convince them not to vote how they’re told to.

    Charlie, I agree with the principle of petitions triggering referenda and it works elsewhere, most notably in Switzerland. But that would require a huge shift in public opinion because at the moment people don’t give a shit, they wouldn’t bother making the effort themselves.

  9. Kevin Fulcher (20 comments) says:

    Charlie, you might like to reflect that the hereditary HofL voted against the Conservative government more than 300 times between 1980 and 1997. As for ‘a parliament and a constitution that recognises the people are sovereign’, the Lisbon ‘not-a-constitution’ ties that one up as far as the sovereignty of the people of this country is concerned; the argument that was settled on the field of Marston Moor, and cemented by the ‘Glorious Revolution’ is now (very) ancient history. Even HM the Queen’s successor, (Charlie boy, presumably) will be a citizen of the EU first and Head of State of a ‘sovereign’ country second, a fact that Australia and other Commonwealth countries are screaming about, having a Head of State who is subject to another jurisdiction is not acceptable. But this is all a separate blog, really.
    Electoral Reform?
    1. An English parliament for England; the ideas about Parliamentary shenanigans that Camoron is putting forward are precisely those that Gladstone rejected as unfair and unworkable in connection with Irish Home Rule. Gladstone is still right.
    2. In connection with 1, abolition of unelected, unrepresentative and undemocratic Regional quangos; I don’t live in a collection of regions, I live in a country called ‘England’. My borough councillor can represent me on local issues, my MP on national ones, my MEP at Brussels. (What would we call a Member of the English Parliament?)
    3. abolition of postal votes on demand without good reason; unfair comparisons with banana republics made by judges, whilst true, are a national disgrace.
    4. A referendum on Scottish independence throughout the UK. We don’t live under Sharia law, a divorce should have the consent of both parties.
    5. Abolition of the Barnett formula; if the Scots or Welsh want better social services, they should be prepared to pay for them, not have an automatic right to shove their hands in our pockets.
    Cheers, Kevin F.

  10. Charlie Marks (365 comments) says:

    Kevin: The hereditary peers might have revolted but it did a fat lot of good for us – public property flogged off at knock-down prices to businesses that funded the Tories, millions out of work, whole industries shut down and shipped abroad…

    And Kevin, I’m dead against the EU, by the way, it sounds like you get the impression I’m fer it – but I’m dead against the EU – so I don’t really want an MEP… There’s no way Lisbon is about popular sovereignty – the agreement of EU leaders is to never have referenda on integration, because it is seen as being detrimental to the establishment of a federal state. In other words, it isn’t what the peoples of Europe want.

    You make a good point about postal voting, Kevin. It should be an exception, not the norm. I think it’d be better to hold all elections on a weekend thus making it easier for people to participate – less need for postal ballots, perhaps?

    And Wonko – on referenda, check out Matt Qvotrup’s essay on Supply-Side Democracy… His view is supply creates its own demand in politics, so where people are permitted to vote on laws, participation and awareness increases.

  11. Kevin Fulcher (20 comments) says:

    Charlie, I totally agree with you about privatisation; my own point of view is that those things that make for a civilised life, water, sewage, electricity, transport, etc should be owned by all and managed for the benefit of everybody; we now pay five times as much subsidy to the railways as we did when we owned them; fare-payers, water drinkers and so on are expected to invest in these industries through higher, above-inflation charges; not a word about the obligation of share-holders to take risks and invest in order to justify their profits, which is what I thought capitalism was all about.
    As for the EU, I think that the reason the Lisbon Treaty doesn’t apply to the Queen, but to her successor, is that it is an irreversible breach of the Coronation Oath. New Liebour would like us to think that this was some sort of quaint and archaic ceremony, but the Act of 1688 makes it completely plain that sovereignty is the people’s, with the monarch as the living embodiment of all our liberties won through people’s blood, and the monarch swears to uphold those at the Coronation; the same liberties that my grandfather fought for at Jutland, and my father in the Atlantic and Pacific; was that all for nothing? The continental view is that the State is sovereign, and the people are allowed some say in its running; if what the people say is inconvenient, then they will just be ignored, and that is the model we have just signed up to.
    I don’t think it is coincidental that Gordon has raised the issue of Electoral Reform now. The great advantage of FPTP is that the people can kick the bastards out; STV systems merely stir the shit around a bit, and allow a few fresh noses in the trough. Is Oliver Cromwell recruiting yet? Cheers, Kevin F.

  12. Charlie Marks (365 comments) says:

    Unfortunately with FPTP you kick the bastards out… and get a new set of bastards. I think the most important reform to the electoral system would be move towards direct democracy.

  13. axel (1214 comments) says:

    could you summarise and expalin in wee words what ‘direct democracy’ is?

  14. Charlie Marks (365 comments) says:

    Direct democracy is when you vote on laws, not your MP who usually “represents” you. For example, the EU treaty referendum would have been an example of direct democracy.

    Many countries have provisions in their constitution allowing citizens to trigger a national referendum on an issue by collecting a certain number of signatures.

    A few weeks ago Hungary held a referendum on GP and education charges which was triggered by a petition organised by unions and parties of all hues. The end result was the government’s unpopular user fees on public services were overturned by a large majority voting against these regressive charges.

    Studies of voter participation and engagement have shown that where people get to have a direct say on important issues they are more likely to participate. Most people if you ask will say they’re not interested, but they have an opinion on the issues like crime, the economy, taxation, the wars, anti-terror legislation, immigration, etc.

  15. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Pki, that makes sense

    so it is like the irish voting on abortion?

  16. Kevin Fulcher (20 comments) says:

    The problem I have with this is that a certain A. Hitler backed everyone of his domestic policy moves with a referendum, the ‘enabling laws’ banning political parties other than the NSDAP and abolishing Trades Unions, the re-militarisation of the Rhineland, the removal of citizenship rights from Jews, ‘voluntary’ euthanasia for mentally handicapped people and so on; naturally enough, he scored a resounding majority in each referendum. BNP government by referendum, anyone? Cheers, Kevin F.

  17. Charlie Marks (365 comments) says:

    Kevin – It wasn’t referendums that allowed the Nazis to come to power and it was only after the Nazis had begun arresting the opposition activists. One might just as well argue that the Nazis came to power through elections, so elections are a bad idea…

    In the many other countries that have referenda and initiatives there hasn’t been a growth in fascist movements as a result and referenda haven’t been used to diminish the rights of minorities.

    Of course, the establishment of a more direct form of democracy should be within the context of a constitution guaranteeing the right to form and join parties, unions, freedom of worship, etc.

    Axel – yes, and also in Ireland there was a vote on legalising divorce. Like the vote on the EU treaty, these have to be held under the Irish constitution.

  18. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    The Nazi’s did what they did because they had a massive majority at all levels of government – something the British government will have if the House of Lords gets changed to all elected.

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