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Thread: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

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    Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    All the polls currently show us heading for a hung parliament. They also suggest some intriguing possibilities, like Brown staying in Number 10 despite losing the election, at least in terms of the percentages of national vote.

    Of course, all this is with the caveat that the polls could be wrong .... and have been before, so this is all somewhat speculation ... if distinctly plausible speculation.

    All three main parties, according to their manifestos, want electoral reform. This time, however, we might just get it. But get what?

    My take :

    • Tories - we want reform, changed boundaries in constituencies, keep First-Past-The-Post, a largely elected House of Lords. By a strange coincidence, this works in our favour.

    • Labour - we want reform. We want the AV system, an elected House of Lords (despite us having been able to do it for 13 years and not bothered), etc. By a strange coincidence, this works in our favour.

    • We want full PR, the Single Tranferable Vote (STV) system. By a strange coincidence, this works in our favour.


    This all leads me to question whether any of them really want genuine reform, or whether they just want to increase their vested interest.

    Given the vast level of cynicism and disinterest in politics, I'm forced to conclude that a lot of people are disinterested in politics because they don't feel their vote makes much if any difference, and that whatever he parties say, and whoever is elected, after the election, it'll be back to business as usual and we get ignored for another 5 years, because whichever party gets elected, they will then claim to have a "mandate" to do whatever the hell they feel like.

    And I include Nick ("I'm not the old parties") Clegg in that. My impression is that he is exactly the old politics. He just wants his go in the big chair. Seductive as that "I'm not them" claim is, I just don't buy it. He is, like the others, just a career politician. Nothing much will change if he gets elected (which, while much more likely than it was a couple of weeks ago, still looks very unlikely), and it;ll be back to business as usual, with a different colour tie worn by the PM.

    We're suppose to be a democracy, though I've long argued that that is little more than a tired joke. The only electoral reform that will impress me is more real influence over major decisions taking the will of the people into account. Cameron and his "big society" goes some way towards that, but I'm not just talking about local people running their school or having a few places on a hospital board - I'm talking about us actually being listened to in a real and meaningful way on major policy decisions. And I don't see any sign of that from any party. which is why I think the "change" they ALL offer is merely the emperor's latest new clothes, albeit from a different and slightly more progressive tailor with a fashionable style to the cut. They're still made from exactly the same cloth.

    My problem is that the party system is the problem. Each of the three main parties have policies I agree with.

    Hell, I even agree with some of the BNP policies, like an English Parliament.

    If the people of Wales, Scotland or NI want independence, then they should have it. So for pities sake, put it to the people in a referendum, and get it over with. Either we're a union, or we aren't, and I don't much care either way. Clearly, Plaid and the SNP think their countries will be better off on their own. I doubt it, but if that's what their people's think and want, give it to them. Meantime, I want an English Parliament deciding English matters, and the Scots, Welsh and N.Irish deserve exactly the same level of autonomy, rather than Plaid saying they want the degree of autonomy the Scots have (though from one Plaid MP, they want it "medium/long term, not yet" when asked if he thinks public spending in Wales would go up if they got it.

    What I want is for the people to have more of a say. If that means the union breaks up, okay. I'd prefer it not to, but if that's what the other "nations" want, who am I (or are we) to say no. That's colonialism by another name. But for heavens sake, put up or shut up, and get it sorted out.

    As I said, I find some policies from each party have merit. But I also find some from each that I don't like. And some are red-line issues. I will not vote LibDem because of their stance on Europe. For instance, I utterly reject the notion that the only referendum the people want is in or out. That misses the point, because it's not just in or out, but precisely what you're in, if you're in. I agree with UKIP and the Tories on maintaining trade with Europe, so I reject the UKIP policy of pulling out. THat doesn't mean not pulling back, or about arguing what our stance should be on the future direction of the EU. As members, we are fully entitled to have a view on that, and if it doesn't match the federalist agenda of the major players, like France and Germany, well, they're entitled to their view and we can have ours, and argue for it.

    If it came to a binary choice between into a European superstate or out altogether, I'd vote out altogether, But I don't believe that's the choice, and it categorically isn't the only available choice.

    So that's the LibDems out, but only because I have to vote for their whole agenda or none of it.

    And that is my core problem. There isn't a party with whom I completely agree, that doesn't have some major policy issues that give me a problem. And that's why I would favour major electoral reform if it gave the people a genuine input into individual major policies. If our feedback got taken into account in a real and meaningful way. That would be real electoral reform, and I can't see why in today's technological and communications-oriented broadband world, it can't happen.

    The reason it won't happen is that all the major political parties are the same - they look after party vested interest first and foremost, and pay little more than lip service to public opinion, with their self-interested claims for "electoral reform" being nothing more than the latest electoral con trick. They don't believe in real reform for democracy's sake, just in gaining an edge.

    How do we get real reform? Dunno. But one way might be to ban political parties altogether, and ban all current MPs from standing too. Make people stand on what they believe, issue by issue, and try to get real people in politics instead of career politicians. To my mind, anyone that is prepared to go through what they have to go through to get selected and elected under the current system isn't the type of person we should give real power to.

    I hope for real electoral reform ... and I expect to get it about 24 hours after I get elected as Supreme Galactic Overlord and Univeral High Poobah by a coalition of the Loch Ness monster, visitors from another galaxy, Peter Pan and the Tooth Fairy. I'm not holding my breath.


    Meantime, the "vote for change" agenda, be it the Tory or LibDem flavour? Pah. It's electioneering hogwash, and that's all it is. Whoever wins, what we get will be more of the same.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    We need Aliens!

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    I've no interest in "Electoral Reform" as it is currently being bandied around.

    I'm sure that Proportional Representation has its benefits, but as lowlights go, causing World War 2 is a fairly large one. So I'm not exactly a big fan.

    I agree to some extent that independent candidates would be a much better approach insofar as how the decision making in parliament is run. The idea of "party whips" I find utterly ridiculous, and a bit embarrassing in this day and age. It would be better if people could sit there and think "What is best for Britain?" as opposed to "What is best for Tories?". So that side of things would definitely be better. MPs could put forward good proposals, and people could vote in accordance with their consciences, their constituencies, and the future of the nation.

    Having said that, my concern is that without a cohesive organised unit in Parliament, what on earth would happen to the cabinet? It would need some serious thinking and a massive revamp to be honest. As things stand, parties pick intelligent people to get into Parliament - people who can make the big decisions and so on. Then they introduce them to politics, and get them voted into parliament by picking the constituencies carefully. We can bicker all day about which decisions where right, and which decisions were wrong, but it's a waste of time. These people are intelligent - they aren't a bunch of idiots.

    Now if we just start picking people based on their personal integrity and so on, I think we'd end up with a lot of political campaign type-MPs... your Esthers of this world :shudder:. Which is fine for voting on motions in Parliament, but I don't like the idea of them making up the cabinet. So how does that work? Do you just pick the best qualified MPs? Or hire experts in to do the job? None really sound appropriate to me.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    I thought the thread title said electrical reform the dyslexia is acting up really badly this week it seems.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Snooty, I like this

    We can bicker all day about which decisions where right, and which decisions were wrong, but it's a waste of time. These people are intelligent - they aren't a bunch of idiots.
    And you don't know what is right until it's completely done. It's easy to pick out points when people are wrong, but if you were in the same shoes, the majority of the time you would of done the same thing.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    You're quite right to argue that we don't have democracy. Democracy literally means rule by the people, and I can't think of the last time that the government of this country actually had a mandate from the majority of the people in the country. It's only been the last hundred years or so that the majority of people in this country even got to vote in elections.

    Fiddling with current constituency boundaries won't work. It will keep the same problem we have now, which is that 600-odd people cannot possibly hope to represent the views of 60 million. The number of seats in Parliament has changed very little since the 13th Century - since 1832 the boundaries have been fiddled with ostensibly to ensure that each MP represents roughly the same number of people, but frankly they are now representing too many people - probably 5 times as many as they were in 1832 - and the numbers have become unmanageable.

    So, I'd like to see devolution. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be completely self governing. In England, as much power as possible should be devolved to as local a level as possible. Where decisions need making at a wider level, they would be made by regional or national bodies made up from representative members of the local government. Whether those local governments were elected by fptp or some proportional system I'm not actually that bothered by, because they'd have a small enough electorate that each vote would matter. But I think my preference would be mandatory multiseat wards, where each voter could choose several candidates up to the number of seats, and the x candidates with the most votes get the seats. It's an arrangement that allows people party loyalty *and* to opt for good local candidates, so it should give a much better opportunity for smaler parties and independants.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by snootyjim View Post
    ... As things stand, parties pick intelligent people to get into Parliament ...
    I take it you haven't actually met many prospective parliamentary candidates, then.

    They come in three types: the intelligent, well educated ones who have a broad range of knowledge and understand many of the issues involved in trying to manage the economy, criminal justice, welfare, health etc., the career politicians who think being in charge of the country is the right job for them and have had a lifelong dream of having a seat in parliament, and the friendly, charismatic, earnest but ultimately clueless ones.

    The first category is by far the smallest. And I include my own former party in that assessment as much as the others.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    In England, as much power as possible should be devolved to as local a level as possible. Where decisions need making at a wider level, they would be made by regional or national bodies made up from representative members of the local government
    You're leaning towards a United Counties of England type government then?

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    At least the Lib Dem proposal benefits the small parties, not just themselves. It's more of a death blow to Labour & the Tories than anything else.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    I take it you haven't actually met many prospective parliamentary candidates, then.

    They come in three types: the intelligent, well educated ones who have a broad range of knowledge and understand many of the issues involved in trying to manage the economy, criminal justice, welfare, health etc., the career politicians who think being in charge of the country is the right job for them and have had a lifelong dream of having a seat in parliament, and the friendly, charismatic, earnest but ultimately clueless ones.

    The first category is by far the smallest. And I include my own former party in that assessment as much as the others.
    I'm talking about the cabinet candidates, not parliamentary candidates.

    If you know where I'm coming from, I'm basically talking about the old system of rotten boroughs. The government picks candidates who've got a bright future ahead of them, like William Pitt, and then puts them into government almost manually. In the old days, they paid the rotten boroughs. These days they would pick a safe seat. And then that person is carried through to government - not earning their constituency votes because they're charismatic, or a people person, but carried through by the government because they're destined for the future cabinet/shadow cabinet.

    Were we to move to a system where parties didn't exist, this wouldn't happen... so who would populate the cabinet?

    That's what I'm getting at.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by snootyjim View Post
    You're leaning towards a United Counties of England type government then?
    That's not how I'd phrase it - The United Kingdom would remain, with a constutional monarchy and everything that goes with it, and I'm sure there are still some matters that would require national government (I've not developed a full policy document on this, although I'd be tempted for the next election). But certainly I'd move a lot of power away from Westminster and closer to the people.
    Quote Originally Posted by snootyjim View Post
    I'm talking about the cabinet candidates, not parliamentary candidates.
    Ah, fair enough - you're probably right then.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    At least the Lib Dem proposal benefits the small parties, not just themselves. It's more of a death blow to Labour & the Tories than anything else.
    But would it mean the end of majorities and a step towards European/Israeli coalitions for everything?

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    But would it mean the end of majorities and a step towards European/Israeli coalitions for everything?
    Short answer: yes

    Long answer: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees

    Question is, with majority rule considered practically essential in UK politics, why bother with the House of Commons in the first place? What's the point in voting when the majority party just needs to get the whip involved to pass the legislation they want, verbatim?

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    Short answer: yes

    Long answer: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees

    Question is, with majority rule considered practically essential in UK politics, why bother with the House of Commons in the first place? What's the point in voting when the majority party just needs to get the whip involved to pass the legislation they want, verbatim?
    That aspect would be no different with a formal coalition either.

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    Long answer: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees
    Had to do a double take - I thought Paxman had stumbled into the thread

    The downside of non-majority governments is that it is much harder for them to pass beneficial legislation. The upside of non-majority governments is that it is much harder for them to pass detrimental legislation. Even in a formal coalition, if one of the minority partners disagrees with the legislation they can easily scupper it. What hopefully happens is that the legislation that does pass is actually better because it has to consider the views of all groups in the government. I'll be interested to see what happens if we do end up hung, certainly...

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    Re: Electoral reform.... what woud YOU like to see happen ....

    The Germans manage OK with coalition governments.

    I wont get involved with the debate on European federalism except to say that I'm not in favour of it in the short term but thats not to say I would necessarily always be against it. People may accuse me of being unpatriotic but France is a very patriotic country and there are certainly federalists there.

    I like the Lib Dems, I always have, but I think there are two problems with proportional representation.

    Firstly: You dont have an elected local representative to champion your local causes within the national government (you are voting for a party, not a local MP). Perhaps this could be solved by less power in Westminster and more power at the local level.

    Secondly: The current system is biased towards "big" parties maybe, but perhaps a benefit of this is it keeps fringe parties from wielding any influence. Read - it keeps the BNP from getting any power. If you get say 3% of the vote you get some seats. Now maybe that makes me undemocratic (exclude people just because their views dont align with mine) but the way voting works you dont get to vote for what you dont want. In economics we call this the problem non transitive preferences (at least, I think it is, the lecture was a long time ago)

    Now lets say there was a points based system. And there are five voters and five parties, you have to award points to four parties to make it a valid vote, this is just an example to illustrate a point.


    Liberal Voter: 4 points Lib dems, 3 points conservative, 2 points labour, 1 point greens, 0 points BNP
    Conservative Voter: 4 points conservative, 3 points lib dems, 2 points greens, 1 point labour, 0 points BNP
    Labour Voter: 4 points labour, 3 points greens, 2 points lib dems, 1 point conservative, 0 points BNP
    Environmentalist: 4 points greens, 3 points lib dems, 2 points labour, 1 point conservative, 0 points BNP
    Fascist: 4 points BNP, 3 points conservative, 2 points lib dems, 1 point labour, 0 points greens

    Under a one vote proportional represntation system where people vote for their favourite party all the parties get 20% of the seats, including the BNP despite the fact that 4/5 voters rated them last!

    Under the points system Lib Dems 28% of seats, Conservatives 24% of the seats, Labour 20% of the seats, Greens 20% of the seats, BNP 8% of the seats.
    This is compared to each party getting 20% of the vote if it was "one vote proportional representation"

    I'm not suggesting we would ever use a points based system, I was simply trying to illustrate the perils of any system of votes trying to represent peoples preferences, and the oddities of a one vote proportional representation system. Again, this is just a made up example showing how when people indicate what they don't want it can make a big difference to how you view overall preferences. I hope that made sense, and was mildly interesting for someone.

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