Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Saving Gordon Brown's Face

So, let me get this right. The Prime Minister wants a referendum on electoral reform, yet won't give us a referendum he promised on the Lisbon Treaty. Make of that what you will. Details have yet to emerge, but it appears as part of his bid to get his government back on track, he will propose that the AV system of proportional representation (except that it is a) not very proportional and b) not very representative) should be introduced to make the voting system fairer. He will also propose that the House of Lords should be either wholly or almost wholly elected.

I can't conceive that there is time between now and the next election for either measure to be introduced. If we are to change our voting system for elections to the House of Commons there should be an extended national debate about it. I am not opposed to PR in principle. I'd happily see it introduced for local government elections or even elections to the House of Lords - but not the form of PR we have for Euro elections or elections to the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly. But I remain implacably opposed to PR for Westminster elections as no one has ever proposed a system which maintains the constituency link. AV does that, but it could lead to even bigger disparities than there are at present - as LibDems will be quick to point out.

I would welcome a wholly elected House of Lords, but again, this needs to be thought through. I can see no argument in this day and age for an appointed second chamber, but we need to be very clear what we want from it. It does a good job at the moment, and we need to ensure that a newly constituted House of Lords isn't ruined in the name of progress.

I find it astonishing that after just one quick meeting of his new Democratic Renewal Council, Gordon Brown is wanting to fiddle with our constitution purely so he can look as if he is doing something, anything, to regain the political initiative. We've seen where we get when Labour acts in constitutional haste. We repent at our leisure. They started a programme of devolution and House of Lords reform without in either case having the faintest idea what their endgame was. The endgame is clear in this case - saving Gordon Brown's political face.

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's another downfall vid. NSFW !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_rLWulWVNY

Anonymous said...

A change in the voting system is surely a major constitutional change for which, conventionally, a government would need a mandate. As this was never raised at the last general election, the only way to achieve a mandate now is for their to be a general election in which the proposals are set out in a manifesto. Without that, any change would have no democratic legitimacy.

Sunder Katwala said...

AV is not PR - which is a plus for some and a minus for others.

There is no proposal for the next election to take place under a different system. (There could be a referendum by then, for the election after, or even on the same day, as the Electoral Reform Society propose). Alternatively, Labour might put a referendum in their manifesto.

The Alternative Vote absolutely maintains the constituency link. It is exactly the system we have now with regard to constituencies, except that it means that the winning MP must seek a majority of all of the votes.

That is a stronger constituency link.

All forms of PR either involve multi-member constituencies (though STV can claim strong constituency links) or top-up MPs without constituencies, though 85% would have constituencies under Jenkins AV+ scheme.

Before you dismiss it out of hand
- academic experts will tell you it would discriminate against Labour while as unpopular as they are now
- It might be of some interest to Eurosceptics (as it means people could vote Ukip then Tory without the issue of wasted votes), just as it is to environmentally minded people who might have a green first preference.

Rick said...

Doesn't the fact that it's called the Democratic 'Renewal' Council suggest that it is intrinsically biased against the status quo?

Nigel said...

It is simply astonishing that a governing party which polled 16% in a recent nationwide election thinks it has any sort of mandate to propose constitutional change.

But of course, Gordon has changed. He told us so.
So that's OK, then.

Nigel Allery said...

I would not wish to pre-empt any proposals but ...
For Brown and Co to come up with ANY proposals when he has 85% of the country against them is BEYOND BELIEF.
Unless it goes to referendum.
But let's face it, as a ploy to get us talking about something other than the total disfunction of New Labour, it might work.

Cornishgiant said...

I like the av option for the commons (or leave as is) and then have the lords elected based on pr, with the lords being nominated by their party. Similar to the Aussie system?

Does this make sense?!

John K said...

Ian

You say "The endgame is clear in this case - saving Gordon Brown's political face".

"in this case" is redundant. Everything Gordon Brown has ever done on politics was either to gain office or to keep it.

I don't agree with you about first past the post, I think a fairer system that reflects the votes cast is more important than the constituency link and don't fear coalition government. It could hardly be worse than what we have now.

But it's a debate that we need to have as a nation, and I agree there is not time to do this properly before the election. Which is presumably Brown's political calculation.

Half-baked schemes to make Gordon seem good are not a substitute for that debate.

ivan said...

The last thing we want, or need, is an elected upper house. In fact it should be limited to only those that have inherited their title - that way it should act as a proper check in the stupidities of government.

dearieme said...

Brown Gone-Ill?

Robert said...

If Gordon is let loose on electoral reform we will the equivalent of tax credits or bank supervision.

Great in theory but costs a fortune and has no public acceptance.

Obsidian said...

I'm wary of an elected Lords, whilst the unelected can be horrifically out of touch, they do act as a barrier to short-term populist policies that could prove harmful. Imagine the horrors had the Lords and Commons been stuffed to the gills with New Labour apparatchiks.

If we are to have an elected Lords, then by needs it must act as a counterweight to the Commons - and that means no party having a majority in both simultaneously.

ASwaS said...

The Single Transferable Vote system used in Ireland retains a strong constituency link, although they are multi-member constituencies - just like many English council wards.

In fact, the academic literature tends towards the view that if anything the constituency link becomes too strong. Members of the Dail have to compete with each other for the affections of their constituency. This is especially complicated by the ability of voters to choose between candidates from the same party if more than one is nominated.

A Conservative who is open-minded about non-FPTP systems might welcome it as unleashing market-style incentives on elected representatives!

BROWN OUT said...

Funny how, after 11 years in power, and facing meltdown in the next GE, Labour have suddenly become interested in electoral reform.

The "Angry Aberdonian" said...

Given that Brown is nothing but a snake-oil salesman, the only reason he's going to do anything is for himself! PR would have the advantage of reducing the number of seats Labour MPs face losing at the next election, but at the cost of bringing in the B*NP. So not only will the "great grey Scottish tick" have handed those thugs two seats in Europe - next he'll be giving them a dozen seats it Westminster!

Jonathan Cook said...

Iain,

I totally agree. I'm glad you have picked up on this issue.

I don't mind change, but this sort of change needs either a government who have the mandate for such change or otherwise a government who can be trusted to put these issues to the public in a referendum.

Given the Lisbon Treaty failure, the government can't be trusted to be fair with referendums.

Gordon puts the interests of the Labour party ahead of the interests of the country and that makes my blood boil.

Gordon can try and push this through, with his bullying whips, but I'd be happy to march on Parliament on this issue. It could turn out to be Labour's Poll Tax.

Drowning man in a socialist paradise. said...

Why on Earth do people still expect this lot to do things in a considered way. Surely a headline-catching initiative, tailored to please the "Britain's got Talent" mob and then nodded through before the summer recess will do nicely. Perhaps a quick call to Susan Boyle, just to run it past her...

Guy said...

I agree with you about the constituency link Iain. I'd like to see a system which keeps one MP per constituency but which allocates MPs from different parties a different number of (non-integer) votes so that the total votes of a party in the house of commons equals its national share of the vote. That way the national vote share would determine which party had the votes to pass laws, but constituencies would determine who speaks for them and raises their issues. I don't know if this system has a name.

Sandy Jamieson said...

We have a desperate man in charge of our Government.
In the knowledge that he will have to call an election by June 2010,I suspect like the following will happen:
About the end of February 2010, some seven to eight terrorist explosions will inflict several hundred casualties and fatalities in towns such as London, Manchester, Glasgow, Swansea and say some small places such as Abergavenny, Kendal and Largs just to convince middle-Britain that nowhere is safe
The Government will then declare a state of emrgency and announce that owing to this attack on British Freedom, the General Election will be postponed until the emergency is over- say at least three years.
Gordon shall of course remain PM thorugh that period and just to nensure public safety is maintained, Local Government elections for 2010 and 2011 are cancelled as well.
Of course while these atrocites will be blamed on Moslem or BNP terorism but the real cuplrits with be the Secret Service acting under the orders of 10 Downing Street

resurgemus said...

Folks

let's stop of the debate about which system is best, the only question of importance is can he force a change through before the next election ?

This is about saving Labour from oblivion and wrecking the chance of a conservative government which can reduce the state's interference in people's lives.

Can these measures be brought in before the next GE - if so who knows what will happen.

Mitterand tried a similar ploy in France to stop the centre right and promptly launched the Front Nationale - Le Pen never looked back.

If you liked what you saw on Parliament Square today scrap the current system.

Though as an aside I still don't know why the conservatives are supporting UAF when their frontmen are from SWP. If we can put up with Sinn Fein who did support killing people - then Griffin is a doddle

London said...

completely unrelated to this thread however, am I the only one who find's it uncomfotable seeing adverts for where & to buy John Tyndale books & DVD's on this blog?

canvas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
canvas said...

The country is calling out for immediate change and radical reform. Who decides? Who makes that call? The Queen? The PM? Alan Sugar?

Sean Haffey said...

Of course we need reform.

We have too many MPs.

The Lords, which has so often given us excellent service, is no longer unacceptable as part of a democratic society.

I'd go for half the number of MPs in a FPTP system and an elected HoL with 100 members in a PV system, with slightly more powers than they have today.

Hoc to have a fixed 4 year term; HoL to have a fixed 7 year term.

But these are just my ideas. We need a proper debate and as you point out, Iain, there's not enough time for one.

Annabel Herriott said...

Iain! Have you ever known Godot to think ANYTHING through? He is the Grand Master of the unintended consequence.

HarveyR said...

The predictable response from the Tories on electoral reform. We know they have never supported it for Westminster.

It looks shabby and opportunistic for Labour to be proposing it now having baulked any change beyond removing the hereditry Peers when they had a mandate for an elected Lords and PR in 1997.

Still, whether what's announced now is cynical, desperate or not we do need to be better represented, so if it's a debate Gordon wants it's a debate he will have... and he will be told that the particular reform he wants is not what we need.

It would be outrageous for a major constitutional change to be whipped through with or without a specific mandate so there should be a referendum. It's not to late in the present Parliament for that to happen, so that come the next election all parties will be able to stand on a platform of either abiding by or ignoring the expressed view of the people.

Alex said...

6% of the country voted Labour last week, so by what right does Mr Brown think he has a mandate for a change to the voting system which was not mentioned in his manifesto.

Do not forget that this is a Parliament that was cauht (on all sides) fiddling its expenses. Do the people really trust them t change the electoral system.

Anonymous said...

Gordon has just appointed eight unelected, and therefore unaccountable 'Lords' to the Cabinet.

It's a bit rich him proposing to 'strengthen' the Constitution and make the electoral system more Democratic when everying Labour has done in the past 12 years has undermined it.

Whatever else is proposed, any Constitutional changes should include a clause preventing 'Lords' from holding Ministerial positions.

If, as reported, this is intended to start a debate and any proposals will be put in a Referendum it is unlikely there will be time to complete the process before the next election.

And if the electorate give the 'wrong' answer there definitely won't be time to hold a second one so they can be bullied into changing their minds.

Sophia Pangloss said...

Sometimes Iain, I just have to shake my pretty head in exasperation. What has the past month shown us if not that we need to act radically now, or else never.

Why do we need at all costs to maintain the constituency link? This link has given us the expenses scandal, and all for a very patchy SuperSocialWorker service. (Most of the population couldn't even name their MP)

No, I look at your post and responses, and I come to the conclusion that we will not see the radical changes this country needs until Scotland breaks the Union Straitjacket once and for all.

BTW, we voted for our Parliament without knowing which voting system it would use, never had a referendum on PR, and the sky has not yet fallen on our pretty heads!


Rick - Doesn't Democratic 'Renewal' suggest an intrinsic bias towards status quo, except with a new coat of paint?

Sophia x

JMB said...

Perhaps he wants to ensure that there are some BNP MPs so that there is someone more unpopular than him?

Unsworth said...

What the hell is this 'Democratic Renewal Council' anyway? What's its constitutional position - and who are its members and who appointed them?

Another Brown wheeze, with no legitimacy and no purpose except to prop him up.

Shamik said...

Agree with what you said about the system used for the Euro elections being bad.

A closed list just doesn't seem right, on a number of levels. I know for a fact that each Labour party regional list, for example, was drawn up by a panel of 3 regional party board members.

Sitting MEPs will almost certainly be amongst those selected, and they'll be placed at the top of the list; there is also a quota of women who must be in there, and high up.

Such a system renders it almost impossible to get rid of a sitting MEP, of any party, no matter how poorly they've performed or how unacceptable their conduct has been.

An open list within the closed list would just be too complicated, but using the same system that is currently used in multi-member wards in local elections may work; using the London region as an example, this would mean putting 8 Xs by the names of the 8 candidates you'd like to vote for, and they needn't all be from the same party.

Drowning man in a socialist paradise. said...

Well, I wouldn't want to be accused of "Banging on about Europe" but I reckon that the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty will trump any constitutional change suggested by The Greatest Intellect Of Our Age.

Totally nothing to do with it, but thank heavens the question of whether or not to debate with the BNP has been settled. The Socialist Workers Party, in the guise of Unite Against Fascism, has made it's decision:- you may not debate with the BNP. I trust that everyone else is as happy as I am to have these people tell me who I may or may not hear.

Anonymous said...

How has the MPs expenses debacle suddenly led to electoral reform? If Brown ever gets this through, forget the conservatives ever being a party of national government.

denverthen said...

If electoral reform is the answer to the question of dishonest and fiddling MPs then I'm a Dutchman. The answer is a general election, where voters will decide who should stay and who should go, well as tyrant Brown knows (he'll be going).

There is one place where electoral reform is desperately needed, though: the principle of the Secret Ballot which has apparently been compromised by Labour Party legislation at some point in the past ten years or so. It must be restored.

As for PR and Westminster, Mr D is absolutely right.

trinityboy said...

Iain

The timing is poor but we need radical change and a reasoned debate.

There shouldn't be a "Gordon Approved" system put up against the current corrupt old FPTP, but there should be a vote alongside the GE on the principle of changing. With a yes vote the decision on which system could then be made after calm reflection by a citizen jury and the new method wouldn't come in until the following GE. This is clearly set out by the Referendum 2010 campaign.

Tom said...

Hang on. Why aren't these proposals, a constitutional matter no less, being announced in parliament first?

yet another broken Brown promise...

Jack Hawes said...

Iain - please don't dismiss AV out of hand! Alternative Vote is not PR and doesn't suffer from PR's drawbacks. This misunderstanding seems to be rampant in the immediate response to the suggestion of introducing AV.

By allowing voters to rank their preferences, AV benefits moderate centre-ground parties that can pick up broad support. Contrary to popular belief, it makes it more difficult for fringe parties (BNP et al) to succeed - the opposite effect of PR. On top of that, the constituency link is fully retained.

I've always thought AV would be a classic (small-c) conservative way forward on the electroal system issue: a limited, cautious reform to avoid the pitfalls of a more radical change (like PR). Imagine if Cameron were to offer support for AV framed in this way - it would be a masterstroke that demonstrated real 'liberal conservatism' and responsiveness to the need for change...as well as cutting the ground from beneath Gordon Brown!

Mark Reckons said...

You are spot on Iain. AV is not proportional.

I thought I was starting to win you round with my STV arguments a couple of weeks back!

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me why an appointed House of Lords is bad but an appointed Bank of England Monetary Committee which controls our economic policy is a good thing?

The last thing we need is more politicians following the party line. Removing the House of Lords is another step towards the end of the monarchy and the likely break up of the UK as there will be no point anymore. Just another Euro country with no distinct character.

Anonymous said...

I read sometime ago an interesting article in The Economist which said that changing to PR was Labour's "nuclear option" .....It would deny the Tories the chance of forming a goverment and they would then be able cobble together a coalition with the Lib Dems.....

.....seems it was a prophetic piec of writing !!

Anonymous said...

Can he do this?

I'm 64 and I have always valued our traditions of rule of law and fair play. I cannot believe that this man, Gordon Brown, can hold sway over the people of this country and change our constitution at the drop of a hat. Will the honourable members of the Labour Party speak and oppose his deluded ideas?

Mark M said...

Surely this about Labour trying to devise an electoral system that leaves them with a large amount of seats with only 15-20% of the vote.

Dimoto said...

Interesting.
The Brownster already seems to have succeeded in starting a specious debate about electoral reform on this blog. (Also odd that the Tory "handicap" of 10% or so seems to be accepted by all).

Every tin-pot European country with a PR system seems to have "something to teach us", but the USA, where PR has been purged in all but a handful of municipal elections, and which shares our political culture, is never mentioned.

As I've said before, this is not a Labour government like any other, and the customary conventions will not apply. This is a deeply corrupt and wreckless administration, and is capable of (nearly) anything.
Things could get very nasty indeed.

norman said...

I can't believe that folks are falling for the diversionary tactics of electoral reform that turns the attention away from this evil Cyclop who has just made an unelected sleazebag as his deputy and arguably the real power in this
pathetic govt. We have burning issues in economy and health. This govt's immigration policy is in shambles as uncontrolled numbers are coming in to this country for collecting benefits. This wicked Cyclop's tactics is to throw electoral refornm bone and as Lib Dems and the rest grab it and play, he quietly sits in his bunker savouring his longevity. Blair and Brown have destroyed this country and it should be left to the Tories to develop policies and put new shawdow cabinet in place to see off labour for a generation. Why is DC sitting relaxed and snipes at so mildly? It is a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Gordon's electoral reform plan:-

1. Every Labour vote will count as two votes.
2. Er, that's it...

Paul Halsall said...

Iain, don't you think 5 member Single Transferable Vote systems would preserve quite a high degree of constituency "connections".

Not a sheep said...

It's not about democracy, it's about ensuring that the glorious Labour thousand year reich continues. I seriously worry about the people, and I use that term loosely, who are in power in this country.

Dr Feelgood said...

How the hell can you have a 'Democratic Renewal Council' that:

- Contains only ministers from the governing party
- Those ministers are known to have been bullied into submission and/or obliged to pledge loyalty to the Leader
- Where said governing party had 15.7% of the vote in the Euro election (~5% of the population)
- Where the governing party secured only 23% of the county council vote
- Where there was no mandate for such an electoral change in its General Election manifesto
- Where the party leader was not elected by either the public or his party in any vote

For a failed government that clearly has no support, to try and introduce this in its last 12 months is profoundly undemocratic.

I hope this gets blocked in the House of Lords, and that Brown's track record on failing to make any of his bizarre initiatives bear any fruit continues.

Lola said...

Brown isn't interested in electoral refrom at all. He's interested in staying power. He's never had to 'fight' and election in his life. He read the text books and 'Lefty Politics for Dummy's' and set about achieving PMship by the deliberate route of never doing anything democartic ever. This is classic lefty double twist. If things aren't going your way find an excuse for saying that the system is bust and then change it to suit you.

This is making my blood boil. Brown has buggered the economy. He's buggered the politics and now he's buggering up democracy. The fix is easy. He, and his henchmen, should bugger off.

Lola said...

Sorry, I really need to say a bit more about this. This is getting very dangerous now. Dangerous for freedom. Surely to God there are democatically minded Socialist MP's who will not stomach this appalling assault on democracy? Or have they all been bought and paid for?

Paul Halsall said...

@Lola

"Brown has buggered the economy. He's buggered the politics and now he's buggering up democracy. The fix is easy. He, and his henchmen, should bugger off."

You really need to be less opposed to buggery. It's very pleasurable for those with an open...mind.

Newmania said...

Iain if Brown wishes to try to foist PR on us then why should we not also have a referendum for an English Parlainment which would exclude Labour in perpetuity ?

iCowboy said...

I've always been surprised by anyone who thinks a document like the Lisbon Treaty - which isn't even meant to be read in isolation can be reduced to a 'Yes', 'No' referendum question.

If someone who battles through the whole text, cross-checks against the Treaty of Rome, Maastricht, Nice and the like finds they agree with everything *except* the renaming of the Commission of the European Communities - should they vote yes or no?

It was stupid of the government to offer a referendum on the subject, especially in a country which still seems to think joining the EEC in 1973 was just entry to a trading body when the 1957 Treaty of Rome begins with the words 'DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples...'

There are some things we pay politicians for, determining treaties is one of them.

Andrew said...

Well said, Iain. Labour always go for electoral reform when they are heading for defeat (even to the Labour-enticing BNP).

This is the Old Stalinist tinkering with the constitution to keep himself in office regardless of the electorate.

Cynic said...

First they stole our pensions

.... then Railtrack

...then the banks

.....now they want to steal our votes

Cynic said...

To have electoral reform we need to have an election....please Gordon ...in all 'humility' ....go on, let us have our votes back please

Anonymous said...

And to think we used to shake our heads in disbelief at the way Saddam used to conduct his "elections".

Osama the Nazarene said...

AV has massive advantages. Doesn't matter that it is not proportional. So called proportional voting brought in the BNP into the EUSSR Parliament.

AV's advantages are:
a) that it keeps the constituency link between MP and constituents.

b) it enfranchises a lot more people because a lot more constituencies would become marginal. Its a scandal that a hundred or so marginal constituencies decide the result of a general election and the rest are so called "safe seats". AV would limit safe seats to a much smaller number making our votes in safe seats more meaningful. This is far more important than so called "fairness".

c) as it is not proportional we would still get reasonable majorities to provide decent government.

Also feel that the House of Lords must become an elected House as a sort of Senate. It would limit the PMs ability to select UNELECTED cabinet members.

Darrell said...

I am a lone wolf in Lib Dem land. I support AV+ because like you I think the constituency link is important as is balancing out the voting system. No voting system is perfect and I totally accept the argument that AV+ isnt pure proportionality but I have to say what I saw of a AMS in New Zealand impressed me enough to convince me of it's validity as a workable half-way house.

Newmania said...

Am I right in thinking that should I want to vote Conservative , and I do , and for no-one else , and I don’t , I get one vote. If , on the other hand I do not care much and would be pretty happy to see either Liberals or Labour whoever is most likely to stop the Conservatives ,I get two votes ?
Is that what he is up to ? On top of the fact that with an equal number of votes the Labour Party gets 90 extra seats and counts Welsh and Scottish votes twice already. Is this what we are going to be given , and thats in addition to having whole areas of competency exported to the left leaning Euro land.

Why not simply take Conservatives to a quiet place and shoot them ?

janner said...

PR for Westminster? No thanks.
Elected Lords? Yes please; but only 200 of them elected on a group constituency basis having first reduced the Commons to 400 MPs.
Then pay Lords and Commons the same salary and expenses/allowances. Lords not elected to the "Legislative Lords" not eligible for any kind of state handouts. Bring back Lord Chancellor as Speaker. Law Lords and Spiritual Lords to have no vote but entitled to speak in debates.
Both Houses to sit 3 days per week, 40 weeks a year.
Just a few thoughts for starters!

Anonymous said...

Iain - the advantage of a mixed House of Lords including a substantial portion of non-elected people is that they can take a long term and considered view. Elected representatives have to be politicians - they have to pander to people to get voted, which encourages short term thinking. Unelected people do not have to do so - they have the liberty (if not the inclination) to take a long term view. If you want a reasonable parallel, look at the success of long-term strategies in car manufacturers where Japanese shareholders will wait a decade for fantastic returns, whilst some Western companies have made ill-considered short-term decisions that have crippled them in order to make quick profits for the shareholders. Or, better yet, look at our banks. Any bank CEO who did not use sub-prime mortgages to keep his company as profitable as those that were, before the downturn, would have been sacked by his shareholders for not making an acceptable profit. Private liability companies on the other hand, kept well clear and (if it weren't for Brown's punishing them for doing so by making them pay off the debts of the others) would now be enjoying huge flights to quality.

An elected upper house sounds good in principle (yay democracy) but surely we only need the house that suggests legislation to be subject to the immediate whim of the People. The one that approves it or asks for it to be modified should not be so subject to the cause de jour.

James D said...

AV is of course an obsolete way of counting preference ballots. The only thing going for it is that it's easy to do the number crunching by hand. But if you want to avoid the instant version of what happened to the Socialists in that French Presidential election, the Schulze-Condorcet Method is much better.

Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts;

Commons - fixed terms and no-one to serve more than three consecutive terms. Must sit out for two terms (prevents seat swapping) to minimise the career politicians.

Lords - independents only - can't have been a member of a party in the previous ten years. Fixed and limited terms too.

Anonymous said...

Expect Gordon to appear on Youtube tomorrow and a referendum by the end of next week.

Anonymous said...

check out revenge by David Milliband and Alistair Darling in this critisism of brown action on climate change http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/public_reports/view_document/12

Yak40 said...

find it astonishing that after just one quick meeting of his new Democratic Renewal Council, Gordon Brown is wanting to fiddle with our constitution purely so he can look as if he is doing something, anything, to regain the political initiative.

Where have you been all your life, or at least since 1997 ?

Labour/Lefties will do anything to hold onto power whether in UK or anywhere else.

Look in the Mail, their article has a sidebar on Mandelson's huge new empire, and he's not even an MP. Almost frightening, certainly not democratic. You think Brown cares ? It's all about holding onto power, nothing else matters.

Wake up Britain.

Yak40 said...

iCowboy:
especially in a country which still seems to think joining the EEC in 1973 was just entry to a trading body when the 1957 Treaty of Rome begins with the words 'DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples...'


There was no Internet then. The media did their duty for the most part - the populace was lied to repeatedly, assured it was only a trading thing. Heath himself admitted it was all a lie some years later.

Similarly Lisbon, just an underhand attempt to pass off the defeated constitution as something less malignant. Now the Irish are to be bullied into a "correct" response this autumn, which is why "they" are desperate for Brown to stay in office until the Paddies get with it.

Scum.

Wake up Britain, or don't you care ?

Paul said...

Regardless of the merits of the various forms of PR,one thing is clear. First past the post which creates huge parliamentary majorities is bad news.This simply provides an elected dictatorship.

I strongly believe that the practice of parachuting candidates into seats must stop. This is where engagement with the local electorate withers and politcal apathy sets in.

Martin Curtis said...

Why is PR right for Local Government and not National.

The arguments against it are the same in both cases; indecisive leadership and disproportionate power to minority parties. If you look at the local elections, it is more likely people will vote for extremists like the BNP than in Nationals. It is therefore more likely that they will hold the balance of power locally and disproportionately influence policy in order to support someone in power.

PR is wrong Nationally and locally.

Mark M said...

iCowboy
"There are some things we pay politicians for, determining treaties is one of them."

Maybe so, but approving treaties that move decision making powers outside of the reach of our votes is NOT one of the them. If the EU had shown itself to be a wholly democratic body then perhaps we might want to. Sadly, the EU is about as far from democratic as it gets (have last week's votes changed even one EU commisssioner?).

It is not our place to give away the freedoms that our fathers fought for and our children deserve to inherit from us.

Dave said...

Everything Labour have ever tried has been a failure. I can think of only two instances where they kept their manifesto pledge. One was to ban hunting with dogs- and that has failed in practice, and the other was the lowering of the age of consent for homosexual acts (I won't comment further on that)
Everything else has been badly thought out, badly drawn up, unjust, nothing but short-term expedience and ineffectual. In short- useless.
This idea is more of the same- designed to deflect attention and to keep power in their hands.
We need electoral reform.
We need less government not more. We can do away with at least 100 MPs if all they do is take orders from Brussels.

Tristan said...

I absolutely agree that the forms used for EU and the Scottish and Welsh elections are deeply flawed and even anti-democratic.

However you must be deliberately ignoring STV.

Multimember constituencies do not remove the constituency link - they existed up until the 50s IIRC.
STV was even used to elect some people to Westminster (and strangely no Liberal was ever elected using it...).

STV maintains the constituency link whilst providing the electorate with a broader choice and the ability to rank their preferences.
Far from weakening the constituency link it would probably strengthen it - MPs would be less likely to sit on the laurels with less safe seats and people would be more likely to have an MP they felt represented them as well (lets face it, if you're a Tory in some areas of the country you're never going to feel you MP represents you - especially with some of the current crop of Labour MPs...)

So, STV maintains the constituency link and is PR. There, problem solved.