Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Response from Mr Halfon MP

Today I wrote a blog post describing the MP for Harlow as a moron. I also commented and linked to the blog post in the comment threads under the piece that prompted me to describe Mr Halfon as a moron. He was very kind enough to reply (kudos to him for doing so incidentally as most MPs tend to ignore talking to members of the public other than in scripted encounters):
Dear Mr Potter, thank you for your comments and your blogposting. 
I am sure you will have read yesterday's Hansard. Mr Clegg says he is open to a proportional list system for electing the Lords. 
Best wishes
Robert Halfon
Now, whilst it's very nice to get a response from him (though a retraction would be nice) Mr Halfon is missing the point - something which I notice is a tendency of most MPs when challenged by members of the public.

Mr Halfon described PR as an unsuitable system for the Lords as it would put power in the hands of the "party bosses" who selected the lists. The best response to this is the response made by one Charles Grove who wrote:
There's no requirement that PR involve party lists, and indeed the proposed form of PR (STV) explicitly rejects them, with the winners having an individual vote. The only power 'party political bosses' have is that over who's an approved/selected candidate, which is exactly the same as when he became an approved Conservative candidate, and was selected for his seat for the Commons, and I suspect few people object to parties being able to do. (The alternative is to say that anyone could proclaim themselves under any party label, which would be bizarre, to say the least). 
Even were that not the case, "lists" need no patronage beyond the above, by the use of open lists, such as in Sweden & Finland, where the voter chooses the "list", and where each candidate ranks on it - the "list" again being merely a list of approved candidates. He seems to be equating "PR" with "Closed lists", which is about on a par with saying "We can't use sterling currency, because tuppeny pieces are too heavy and annoying to have in your wallet" - a problem with one tiny subset being used to (logically invalidly) damn the entire concept. 
It's also quite funny that you're proposing run-off elections, having just fought against instant run-off (AV), which is almost exactly the same, albeit without the two week wait.
I have of course replied to Mr Halfon's comment but I think that the above sums up my points far better than I ever could. 

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