Over on ConservativeHome Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow, is busy displaying his idiocy. He is complaining that using PR for the lords would be replacing one form of patronage with another as it would be up to party officials to decide who was placed where on the party list. Here's what he has to say:
A partially elected Lords, elected by a variant or PR, would simply replace one form of political patronage with another, since party bosses would have an even greater say as to which party member would be on the List. If there has to be a change in the election system - and as yet there has been no justification given - why not move to the Second Ballot System, in which FPTP is retained, but there is a second ballot a few days later for those areas in which a candidate did not get over 50%.
Unfortunately for him, if he had simply read the proposals then he would note that party-list PR (the type used in European elections) is not the proposed system for the Lords. Instead the system to be used is STV. And, as it says in the proposals, STV allows voters to choose between candidates from the same party:
Under STV, voters are invited to rank candidates on the ballot paper in the order in which they would like them to be elected. Under the version of STV proposed, as long as a first preference is indicated the vote will be valid – a voter may simply write “1” next to a candidate. After that voters may express preferences for as many or as few candidates as they wish. Voters would not be required to vote for candidates representing only one party: they would be free to vote across parties and for independent candidates. There would be no option to vote for a party instead of an individual candidate.
So in fact it's replacing one form of political patronage with a form of democracy.
Given that this MP hasn't even bothered to read the legislation he will be voting on (or, indeed, even read the BBC's summary of the key proposals, which I mentioned in a previous post) then what exactly is the point of him being in parliament? Though if you read his wikipedia page you will also see that he supports the voodoo of homoeopathy so this level of stupidity seems par for the course for him. It all makes me feel sorry for his constituents who are now stuck with him as their representative for the next four years.
Quite frankly, Mr Halfon is a moron who should not be in parliament.