The Miller’s Tale

Should Maria Miller resign as an MP or be deselected following the Parliamentary Commissioner’s ruling that she should repay £45,000 expenses, the subsequent decision of the House of Commons Committee on Standards that she need repay only £5,800 and then her apology, which her critics have said was inadequate?

That is not for STV Action to decide and we also do not think that her party or the Courts should decide.  We believe that the voters in her constituency of Basingstoke should take the decision but, with First Past The Post (Winner takes all) voting, they will not have real power to decide.

Basingstoke is a very safe seat for the Conservative Party.  At the last general election in 2010, Maria Miller was one of only about 30% of MPs who received votes from more than 50% of the voters.  50.52% of Basingstoke voters supported her and she had more than twice the number of votes received by her nearest rival, the Liberal Democrat candidate; if her party nominates her again, she will almost certainly win again even if the majority of Basingstoke voters no longer want her.

For example, if her vote goes down to 34% and the Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates each receive 33% of the votes, she will be re-elected even though twice as many will have voted against her as voted for her.

Preferential voting (“ranked choice voting” in the USA) by STV or AV would solve that.  The seat would not be as safe as it is with First Past The Post (Winner takes all) voting and the voters could decide.

Also, some Conservative supporters may want to vote against Maria Miller without voting against their party, but they cannot do that with First Past The Post (Winner takes all) voting.  They could do so with preferential voting by STV or AV.

On the other hand, Basingstoke voters may feel that criticism of Maria Miller is unjustified or that, despite it, she is such a good constituency MP that she should be re-elected.  They should have the opportunity to re-elect her.  De-selection would deny them that opportunity.

Preferential voting by STV or AV would also solve that.  Maria Miller could be one of two or more Conservative candidates and voters could chose between her and the others without splitting the party vote.  Alternatively, if the party did not nominate her, she could stand as an Independent without splitting the Conservative-minded vote.

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