Monday, 7 February 2011

A Vision for a New Britain: Part 2

Political Reform

It is my firm belief that nothing in this country can significantly change for the better without two key obstacles being removed. One of these is our political system.

Our political system is an obstacle due to the way that it fails to represents what the people actually want. Roughly 65% of the votes go to Labour and the Conservatives between them which translates into roughly 80% of the seats in the House of Commons. However, over 80% of constituencies haven't changed hands since the Second World War and only 6% of voters decide the outcome of the election - that is to say that the 6% of the electorate who make up the "swing" voters are the ones who decide which party wins a majority in the Commons.

The obvious problem with this is that it encourages the political parties to target those 6% at the expense of the rest of the electorate. This is why on almost every major issue the two main parties have very similar positions (once you strip away the spin, of course). For example, all the main parties officially agree that drugs are bad and we must make sure that they stay illegal and rigorously enforce laws criminalising drug taking and dealing (apart from when the drugs in question are tobacco and alcohol of course). But the problem with such a position is that about 40% of the public support legalisation either of some drugs or all drugs - you don't have to agree with that view yourself, but it does illustrate how the will of a substantial part of the electorate can be completely ignored without any negative repercussions for those ignoring them.

The other problem with our system is that it forces voters to confine their votes to the big three parties because of the perception that no other party can win. This of course makes it harder for minor parties to make their voices heard and thereby enforces the status quo.

The simple solution is to change the political system.

Now, there are two ways in which the success of a political system can be measured. The first is that it delivers strong government and the second is that it represents the will of the people. We currently use first past the post (FPTP) and the main argument people make in its favour is that it provides strong government. This, of course is nonsense as an inherent part of FPTP is that it only delivers firm government in two party environments. This was the case in Britain during the 1950s when the two main parties took 98% of the vote between them. Now, however, they get only 65% between them and the vagaries of FPTP means that they can still get a huge majority with only 34% of the vote (such as Labour in 2005) or that neither can get a majority, leaving us with a hung parliament (such as we have now).

Given that there is no system which could fulfil the first requirement in this country, we must look for a system to fulfil the second requirement. This inevitably means proportional representation or PR.

So, let me describe how I see our political system in the future.

The House of Lords has been abolished and been replaced by a Senate of around 300 members. Elections for the senate take place every four years but only a third of the senate is elected in any election i.e. a third of the senate is elected at one election, another third at the next election and the final third at the election after that. Each Senator is elected for a ten year term after which they are forbidden from standing again. This allows them to vote according to their consciences as they do not face having to gain party support in order to  run for re election. The constituencies for the senate are regional and use open-list PR - allowing voters to vote not for a party but for a candidate. The new senate performs the same role as the House of Lords which it replaced but now acts with a democratic mandate in the name of the people.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons is now elected using the single transferable vote (STV) with the country divided up into county sized constituencies electing anywhere between three and six MPs each. Communities are kept together and boundary changes are a rare occurrence. Voters have the right of recall and can be confident of having an MP who they support should they need to seek help whilst the MPs are still linked to a constituency of a size which they can properly represent.

The House of Commons itself is almost unrecognisable. Proportional representation (thanks to STV) means that coalitions are the norm with parties routinely including in their manifestos a section on their minimum policy requirements for going into coalition. Politics is more representative of the people as well, with any petition which garners 100,000 signatures being debated in the Commons (provided the petition refers to an actual issue which has not been debated previously in the current parliament). Furthermore, lobbying is now far more transparent with an official register allowing the public to see who the lobbyists and what their vested interests are. But an equally radical change is the new limits on donations to political parties, with state funding providing a level playing field for all political parties, large and small. And one of the minor changes which has made things far easier for voters is the switch to weekend elections making it far easier for people to vote.

The new politics is far more representative than the old politics and has caused a new re-alignment which has seen all the main parties lose votes to the formerly ignored parties such as the Greens and UKIP. The voices in government are far more diverse and every shade of public opinion is now represented at a national level. People can once more feel safe in the knowledge that their votes are not wasted and have confidence in the way the country is run.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmmmmm - That is an idea!

    Something HAD to be done to stop the 'etonites' from taking over everything - The real people should be in the house - People who have LIVED - brought up where it is happening - Not just where the money allowed them to go and the only thing they see is us plebs and them toffs. omething must be done - so that a NORMAL person gets to run this country - If that never happens then this country is going down the pan all the time - We no longer trustthe liars in govt. We hold no faith in them for they say one thing when touting for our votes and do the opposite when they are IN govt.

    We need to SAVE our NHS not sell it off for profit. We need to educate our young so they can BE smething more than minimum wage shelf stackers. We need to HELP our disabled people so they hold a sense of pride in being the best they can be not attack them and call them liars and shirkers.

    There is so much that this country COULD be - But the men/women at the 'top' are only out for themselves, they are not truly seeing the bigger picture - they are too selfish.

    The PEOPLE need to be there - In the middle - where it happens. Not just those who went to eton cos Daddy has pots of dosh. Because they do not understand what real life is all about.

    If only you could get them to listen to you and see how thigs shoudl be. But they wont for the only thing they want is to put mre money in their own, and their friends pots.

    But for this world to move forward - for britain to become great agan - Thigs MUST change - We must get proper jobs back - Not just minimum wage crap. People se no future - Nothing to strive for, they are just grasping for he crumbs thrown from the govt.

    e hafta STOp allowing people from all other countries coming in and taking the british peoples jobs. I know that sounds racist but I dont mean it like that - I mean - If there are 1000 jobs and 800 of hem go to a stranger - then that is 800 briish people signing on (and on workfare slavery)

    There is always an answer - but those in power refuse to see it they ae too busy taking away peoples money on 'sanctions' - I mean 3yrs with no benefits - This person will turn to crime and go to jail - How will thathelp them find work???? Its just slavery to fill people like poundlands pockets with yet more money.


    Share the wealth and the humanity of people will abound

    ReplyDelete

I'm indebted to Birkdale Focus for the following choice of words:

I am happy to address most contributions, even the drunken ones if they are coherent, but I am not going to engage with negative sniping from those who do not have the guts to add their names or a consistent on-line identity to their comments. Such postings will not be published.

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Oh, and if you persist in repeating yourself despite the fact I have addressed your point I may get bored and reject your comment.

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