All party support?
Submitted by editor on Wed, 12/05/2010 – 20:47
The Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have agreed to whip their parliamentarians into supporting legislation for a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) for parliamentary elections, so the Bill will probably be passed and Conservative MPs and peers should have no qualms about this. It will let the people decide.
But I wonder what Labour’s attitude will be. We all know that many of its backbenchers are diehard opponents of reform and we may suspect that its leaders espoused reform only as a last ditch attempt to keep the Tories out of power. However, this legislation was in the Labour manifesto. Ironic though it is that a Conservative-led coalition will introduce legislation that was in the Labour manifesto, will Labour support it or will they have the effrontery to oppose it?
If the Conservatives honour their agreement with the Liberal Democrats and Labour honour their own manifesto unlike 1997, the Bill should be passed almost unanimously.
Nevertheless, reformers should aim to maximize support for the Bill.
Individually, we can write to our own MPs. We can remind Labour MPs that they were elected on a manifesto that promised this legislation and, in suitable cases, we can also remind them that they owe their election to Lib Dem supporters who voted tactically. We can remind Conservative MPs of their party’s agreement with the Liberal Democrats without which they might be on the Opposition benches. Some of them, too, owe their election to Liberal Democrat supporters who voted tactically. We can also tell them that, even if Labour wanted AV to keep the Conservatives out of power, it could just as easily keep Labour out if the coalition works well and voters like it.
Don’t be fooled by AV
Submitted by lawrie oconnor on Thu, 13/05/2010 – 00:10.
Let’s be clear. AV is the least that could be offered as a sop towards voting reform. In the UK we have experience of six voting methods, none of which are AV. There is AMS for the Scottish Assembly, d’Hondt for the Welsh Assembly, Largest Remainder for EU elections, STV for Scottish local elections, Supplementary Vote for the London Mayor and, of course, FPTP. AV is Arthur Scargill’s favourite. Not a ringing endorsement. Do Cameron/Clegg really think that AV is the best offer or do they just want to sidetrack the Electoral Reform campaigners? Let us stick to pressing for PR/STV and not be fooled by the non-proportional dead end of AV.
A small step for democracy
Submitted by editor on Wed, 12/05/2010 – 19:15
We welcome the new Government’s commitment to hold a referendum on using the Alternative Vote (AV) for parliamentary elections. In effect, AV is STV in single member constituencies; i.e. without a choice of candidates from the same party and without proportionality. It is a small step in the right direction towards STV in multi-member constituencies.
We congratulate the Liberal Democrats on achieving this historic advance and the Conservatives for their statesmanlike concession.
We also welcome the agreement to fixed term parliaments, which will make it more difficult for either party to renege on the coalition agreement.
We shall watch closely for progress on these two issues.
The BBC’s summary of all the proposed political reforms was blogged on this site a little earlier today.
Political Reform (the BBC’s summary of the coalition’s programme)
Submitted by editor on Wed, 12/05/2010 – 19:07
• Referendum on the Alternative Vote system for general elections
• Fixed-term Parliaments – next election in May 2015
• 55% of MPs required to bring government down in confidence vote
• Committee to look at fully PR-elected House of Lords
• Cut in number of MPs and equal size constituencies
• Right of the public to “recall” corrupt MPs
• Statutory register for lobbyists
• Scottish Parliament to get more powers under Calman proposals
• Referendum of devolution of further powers to Welsh assembly
• Review of Scottish MPs voting on England-only legislation
• Ban on “non-doms” sitting in Parliament
• Reform of political donations and party funding
Open letter to Nick Clegg
Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Sat, 08/05/2010 – 15:31
Dear Mr Clegg,
Please forgive me for troubling you at this very busy time for you. I have voted in every parliamentary election since 1959 and you have given me tremendous hope that, at the next one, my vote may affect the result for the very first time.
Many policy issues are important but even economic issues in the present situation have less of a long-term effect than electoral reform. Only electoral reform can ensure that voters get the economic and other policies that they vote for.
So I am sure that, despite the difficulty, you will not accept a deal with any party that does not guarantee electoral reform. Not only is it essential for the country to ensure that future government policy has been supported by a majority of voters, but it will be essential for Liberal Democrats to survive the inevitable fall in support for assisting either of the other two parties.
But what kind of electoral reform? Only STV would make MPs accountable to voters for all their actions, including their expenses claims. Also, although any old kind of proportional representation that another party is prepared to concede (such as AV+ or AMS) would help the Liberal Democrat party, such a system would provide only Party Proportional Representation. Only Lib Dem policy of STV in multi-member constituencies provides Proportional People Representation through choice voting as opposed to the Proportional Party Representation of other PR systems. Moreover, it is the only system that provides real freedom of choice for voters (which Mr Cameron should appreciate) and it is the system advocated by Conservative Action on Electoral Reform.
AV+ and AMS are deeply flawed systems of proportional representation. They would increase party power, which is probably why Labour reformers usually prefer them and would create two classes of MPs, which has caused many problems in Scotland and Wales. STV decreases party power and does not create two classes of MPs. Moreover, many boundary changes would be needed for AV+ or AMS. These would be controversial as each party would want to gerrymander and this would probably delay reform. With STV, groups of existing single-member constituencies would simply be grouped together to form multi-member ones.
If you have to compromise, I urge you to accept AV (not AV+). Although not proportional, it is STV (choice voting) in single-member constituencies. It would be an easy step from first past the post, it would get people used to voting by numbers and it would be only another small step later to change to STV.
A majority [52% (29 + 23)] voted on Thursday for parties that support choice voting (Lib Dems for STV and Labour for a referendum on AV).
I wish you every success in your negotiations.
Death of a myth
Submitted by editor on Fri, 07/05/2010 – 21:39
“First past the post avoids ‘hung’ parliaments and delivers strong one-party government”. That’s probably been the most popular argument for first past the post but the recent election result has certainly killed that myth. They shouldn’t have the cheek to trot that one out now but I wouldn’t bet on it.
End tactical voting
Submitted by editor on Tue, 04/05/2010 – 10:25
Two Labour Ministers – Peter Hain and Lord Adonis – have urged Lib Dems to vote Labour in Labour/Tory marginals to keep the Tories out. Tactical voting would be unneccessary with preferential voting such as STV or AV. People would be able to vote for the candidate they really wanted instead of the one most likely to defeat the one they dislike.
I’ll vote Lib Dem
Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Sun, 02/05/2010 – 14:13
I had been debating with myself for some time whether to spoil my vote in protest against the silly, futile, inefficient and unfair voting system we have now or vote for the only party that supports STV – the Lib Dems – even though its candidate cannot win where I live. I live in a very safe constituency, where my vote cannot affect who becomes my MP or who becomes PM.
I’ve now decided to vote Lib Dem. Every vote for Lib Dem candidates is a vote for STV, even if the candidates do not win. Also, if my vote helps Lib Dems to beat Labour in the national votes but Labour wins more seats, that will help emphasize the case for some kind of proportional representation to the media and public – and to politicians.
Hung or balanced?
Submitted by editor on Sat, 01/05/2010 – 17:40
What if there is no overall majority in the Commons on 7 May? If one party is only a handful of seats short of an overall majority, it will probably form a minority government, make a few concessions here and there to the smaller parties and limp along for a few months until either it is defeated or opinion polls indicate it might win an overall majority in another election. That’s what Labour and Conservative politicians like to call a “hung parliament” and, although electoral reform would certainly be discussed in those circumstances, our chances of achieving it would not be high.
Suppose, however, that one or both of the largest two parties are about 50 seats short of an overall majority and the third party has about 100 seats. In that case, it would be unrealistic for any party to form a minority administration. Any two of the three largest parties should be able to form quite a stable coalition. We would then have, for the first time since 1945, a government elected by a majority of voters. I would call that a “balanced” – not “hung” – parliament. In that situation, there should be good opportunities to advance the cause of electoral reform.
They work for you
Submitted by Anthony Tuffin on Sat, 27/02/2010 – 18:03
If you did not know, you may like to visit They Work For You’s website at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ where you can set up e-mail alerts for mentions in any UK Parliament or Assembly of any subject that interests you. The alerts give you links to the website, where the full text is quoted and you can post your own comments.
The link http://www.123people.co.uk/ext/frm?ti=person%20finder&search_term=anthon… will lead you to some comments I have made in recent years on STV-PR.
Reform in the UK & New Zealand?
Submitted by editor on Thu, 25/02/2010 – 12:26
See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/7299897/New-Zealand-prepares-for-electi… for a good article in today’s Daily Telegraph with quotes from STV Action, the Electoral Reform Society and others.