House of Commons Reform Proposal: Very Short Summary #ElectoralReform #HouseOfCommonsReform #HoCReform

I’ve been writing an essay on possible electoral reform in the UK, but it’s turning into a mini-book. So I’m just going to post up the very short summary of my main conclusions and proposals.

My proposal for how to reform the House of Commons:

  1. Decrease the number of constituencies from 650 to 600.
  2. Ensure all constituencies are almost identical in size so as to make all votes roughly equal (currently, the smallest has 21,769 electors and the largest 110,697).
  3. Following the Jenkins Commission’s Report 1998 (JCR 1998), introduce two kinds of MP; those chosen from single member parliamentary constituencies (like now), and those chosen proportionally from multi-member regional constituencies. This is what happens currently for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the London Assembly.
  4. Following the JCR 1998, only 15-20% of MPs to be multimember; so, 480:120 or 500:100, single member constituency MPs to multimember constituency MPs. This is as opposed to the devolved legislatures which have around 40-45% of members drawn from the multimember regional constituencies.
  5. Very approximately, the country should be divided into around a dozen multimember regional constituencies; this ensures a high level of proportionately, but not so much that politics becomes destabilised.
    1. This could be on similar lines to how Members for the European Parliament are currently elected from the UK so that the constituencies do not all have an equal number of MPs. The benefit is that natural geographic or cultural regions can be treated as constituencies regardless of size, e.g., Northern Ireland.
    2. Alternatively, this could be done as in Wales and Scotland where the regions all elect the same number of members. The disadvantage of this is that either traditional boundaries would have to be disregarded, or some constituencies would have more MPs than their populations would proportionately require.
  6. In the single member constituencies, MPs to be elected on the same basis as the London mayor, on the Supplementary Vote system; voters pick a first and second choice, if no candidate receive more than 50% of first choice votes, then all but the leading two candidates are eliminated and all second choice votes are redistributed to determine the winner.

This series of proposals taken together introduces some proportionality, but not to the point that it destabilises politics (that is, permanent coalitions and collapsing governments). It encourages people to vote for who they really want, as they know their vote really counts in the multimember regional constituencies, and that they can vote for who they want in the single member constituencies without wholly ruining it for the second favourite candidate. Currently, people will often vote Labour to keep out the Tory, or vice versa, when they really want to vote Green (for example). Under this proposed system, they could confidently vote Green in the multimember regional constituency, and then either Labour in the single member constituency or Green first choice and Labour second choice. It also makes it more likely that the MP in the single member constituency will command 50% or more of the electorate.

The only possible downside is that it introduces two kinds of MP. But I say we already have two kinds of MP: we have those in the Government who are thus in the Executive branch of Government, and back benchers who are not in the Government and are thus not part of the Executive. In other words, the MPs who run the country + look after their constituents, and MPs who only look after their constituents. Indeed, the Speaker of the House could himself be considered an altogether different, third type of MP in the current set up.

I hope to publish a more detailed analysis and investigation into reform of the House of Commons soon.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://culturalwednesday.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/House-of-Commons-1024×681.jpg

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“But Brexit ISN’T ‘The Will of the People’!” #Brexit #BRINO #WillOfThePeople @Anna_Soubry @StevenEdginton @WestmonsterUK

Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP who stood for election on a 2017 Manifesto which committed to delivering Brexit and who herself in 2017 said “you can’t vote for a Referendum & then renege on delivering the result because you don’t like the result”, has famously reneged. She has done nothing in the last year but attempt to overturn the decision to leave the European Union, most recently voting against her own Government’s position on the recent Customs and Trade Bills by trying to tie the UK into a Customs Union with the EU.

How times change…

But by now, all politics junkies know she’s unprincipled (although I’m not sure to what extent the general public is aware of the extent of her unprincipledness). What has piqued my interest, however, is that now she’s talking absolute rubbish on Twitter, again. Specifically, she’s parroting the oft-repeated, in-vogue line that, actually, the vote to leave the EU wasn’t the will of the people after all! Why? Because whilst it is true that more than half of those who voted did indeed vote to Leave, many people did not vote at all. Some 27.79% of the eligible electorate didn’t bother to vote, in fact. This means that, of the total electorate eligible to vote in the EU Referendum, 34.74% voted for Remain, and only 37.47% voted for Leave — considerably less than 50%!!

Soubry fails logic

However, this is a completely bogus argument. There is always a huge percentage of the electorate who don’t vote. Indeed, as one Twitter user (@AlastairJT) has helpfully pointed out to Ms. Soubry, she herself was elected in 2017 on less than 50% of the electorate; the turn out in her constituency of Broxtowe was 75.0%, of which she achieved 46.8%, giving her a grand total of 35.1% of the electorate — a lower percentage than voted for Brexit.

But actually, the issue is even larger than that. More people voted for Brexit (17.4 million) than for anything else in British history. Moreover, and this is the master stroke I feel, you have to go back to the General Election of 1959 to see the winning party earn a higher percentage of the total electorate than the 37.5% who voted for Brexit. 1959! When Britain was a virtual two party state. And indeed, you have to go back to the 1931 General Election before a party achieved a higher percentage of the turn out than Leave achieved — and that was because the Liberal Party had imploded and split four ways.

If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is…

As they say in football, “you can only beat the teams that are put in front of you”. That more than a quarter of the population stayed at home does in no way invalidate the result of the EU referendum. If the benchmark for a vote to qualify as the “will of the people” and be so enacted is more than half of the total electorate voting one way, then no General Election since 1959 has been “the will of the people”, and nor was the election of Anna Soubry herself. If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

Brexit Betrayal: Back From The Brink? #Brexit #BrexitBetrayal #MayMustGo #BRINO

Theresa May’s Chequers plan has been thoroughly amended by Parliament and has been firmly rejected by the EU. Although it’s likely the unamended version would also have been rejected as the Chequers plan tries to separate the four EU freedoms: the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. This is a red line for the EU and they have consistently opposed any such cherry-picking from day one.

On one hand, you have to admire the EU negotiators; from the very beginning, they knew what they wanted, they knew what their red lines were, and they’ve stuck to this. Unlike our lily-livered Prime Minister who herself admits her position has “evolved”, the EU have stuck firmly to their principles. On the other hand, it is increasingly clear to everybody that the EU are simply unwilling to negotiate anything other than continued British membership of the EU in all but name only. Therefore, it is clear that there is literally now no point continuing the negotiations as they are. To think otherwise is to be delusional.

Therefore, we have to reset our minds and pursue one of two options.

One, lay down an offer and tell the EU to take it or we walk without a deal and go to WTO terms.

Two, we take the offer that the EU already made us in March: a regular EU-UK trade deal. Donald Tusk, the EU Council head, said that a free trade deal is the only possible model for EU-UK relations, that we cannot have a “pick and mix” approach to the European single market, and that we could continue to cooperate on security amongst a slew of other issues. Japan just signed a trade deal with the EU itself, and with no loss of sovereignty. Let’s chuck May’s Brexit In Name Only (“BRINO”) con job, and have a free trade deal with the EU. And if the EU aren’t willing to offer us a trade deal which we view as acceptable by the 29th March 2019, it is already clear that negotiating with them is a waste of time: WTO here we come! But this wouldn’t be a “cliff edge” or “crashing out”, as most mainstream news outlets and pro-Remain politicians style it; it would be complete freedom and independence — the very things we voted for on the 23rd June 2016.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/1/590x/Theresa-May-and-money-around-city-of-London-721875.jpg

Brexit Betrayal: On The Brink #Brexit #BrexitBetrayal #MayMustGo #BRINO

We are on the brink of the greatest exercise of democracy in the history of our nation, the vote to leave the European Union taken on 23rd June 2016, being overturned. More people voted for Brexit than for anything in British history ever. Yet Prime Minister Theresa May has set forth proposals in her White Paper which experts agree will make Brexit happen in name only; indeed, we will have to follow almost all of the same rules as being in the EU forevermore with no real ability to take back control of our laws, our money, our bordersthe very basis of the campaign to leave. To make this worse, her proposals go against all the red lines which she has repeatedly and so eloquently argued for in her landmark speeches.

The extent of May’s treachery and scheming is quite breath-taking and extensive, but here is a very brief summary: she secretly planned for this Brexit In Name Only (BRINO) for a year working to undermine her own publicly stated policy and red lines; she has determinedly undermined her colleagues especially the (now former) Brexit Secretary David Davis; she has threatened her MPs and the public with no Brexit at all if her new plans aren’t followed; she has conceded everything to the EU at all stages with nothing in return; she cleared her new plan with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before showing it to her Cabinet and has subsequently said that the plan cannot be changed as Merkel has already approved it.

Even staunchly loyal MPs, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, are now openly in revolt. It is clear that May has doubled down on her new plan and will not yield. Therefore, the only solution is to remove her as Conservative Party leader. But how would this work?

  1. First, 15% of the Parliamentary Party (that’s 48 Tory MPs) would have to submit a letter of no confidence to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady.
  2. If this occurs, a secret ballot will take place where Tory MPs will either support or oppose Theresa May’s leadership; she only needs to get a simple majority of MPs voting in support. This would be 159 MPs (if all Tory MPs vote).
  3. If she wins, she is untouchable for a year, and Brexit is finished.
  4. If she loses, a new leadership election is held in which she cannot stand.
  5. All candidates are voted on by the Tory MPs, the lowest ranked candidate being eliminated round-by-round until only two candidates remain; these two candidates will be put to the party membership to determine who will be next Conservative Party leader.

However, the quandary that pro-Brexit Tory MPs, and pro-Remain Tories who realise that May is electoral poison, find themselves in is this: do they really have the support the oust May? Very possibly, but perhaps probably not; after all, only a minority of Tory MPs are pro-Brexit, and pro-Remain Tories are likelier to wait until after this Remain-in-all-but-name deal is signed off on and then stick the knife in. In which case, all is lost. Therefore, some Tories wish to wait until after the Parliamentary Summer recess as they feel a vote against May is more likely to succeed then. Why? Because the EU will by then have, so it is claimed, rejected May’s proposals, thereby strengthening resolve against her.

For those who want Brexit to happen, indeed, for those who care about democracy at all (the idea that the people have power, a vote is held, and then the outcome of the vote is carried out), it is imperative that the intransigent May is removed from office. However, short of her death, the only way for this to happen is in a vote of no confidence, a vote she is perhaps likely to win. Our only hope is that a peculiar alliance of Tory careerism, principled Brexiteers, and Labour MPs helping to vote down May’s proposals, will effectively combine to save Brexit. That would be an occurrence as rare and miraculous as the vote to leave the European Union itself.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/1/590x/Theresa-May-and-money-around-city-of-London-721875.jpg

Brexit Voters Are ****ing Stupid! #Brexit

This post is inspired by a Tweet I saw and the countless times I’ve been slagged off by people who voted Remain in the EU Membership Referendum.

I have a Bachelor of Arts with Honours with an award of First Class, two Master of Arts, not to mention my professional qualifications, all from world leading institutions. IQ tests rank me as 98-99 percentile — that qualifies me for Mensa. Oh yeah, and my wife is foreign.

Yep, no doubt about it; I’m a typical stupid, ignorant, racist, thicky dum-dum Brexit voter. Cos only imbecilic racist scumbags voted Brexit, amirite?

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://i.pinimg.com/736x/eb/8c/37/eb8c37e0ae5b5627d8ca68fda0bb92df.jpg

Neologism: Parchment Contract

So, me and some workmates were talking about older work contracts today and how people on older contracts have much better terms and conditions than people on new contracts. It’s like, it gets progressively worse over the last thirty years. Seems to be common across organisations. Anyway, I said,  ‘Of course so-and-so was entitled to such-and-such a benefit; their contract is so old it’s written on parchment’. And then I was, okay, “parchment contracts”.

So there we are, I offer my nonce word up as a useful new word:

parchment contract n. phr. an older contract with preferential terms and conditions and pay, specifically used in bitter reference to how such contracts are now ancient, long-forgotten, history, and never likely to return.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cbsnews2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2012/04/06/6c5f91e8-3598-11e3-8ce8-047d7b15b92e/thumbnail/620×350/cee95ca89a1369962377c13e4c749723/contract_signing_000017511189.jpg

Term-time holiday dad loses court battle @tfa4freedom #Libertarianism #NannyState

The UK Supreme Court has decided that parents are not allowed to take their own children on holiday during school term time regardless of the child’s overall attendance, punctuality and attainment rates, or the needs of the family.

This sounds kind of reasonable, right? Surely, we need to protect kids from neglectful parents who harm their children by not giving enough regard to their educational attainment. However, bookings and flights are much more expensive during the school holidays. Many parents simply cannot afford these prices. Therefore, parents will often choose to miss some days of school, opting for a term-time holiday, than have their child miss no school time but perhaps forfeiting a holiday altogether. Yet even with this fine, it will still often be cheaper to take children on holiday out of term. Well, for wealthier parents, that is. What this fine means is that many poorer parents will not be able to have a holiday at all as they are less able to afford to pay the fine or the premium non-term time prices.

This is an outrageous decision. I grew up on a council estate, my parents were literally too poor to afford nappies. The only holiday I ever had from age 0-20 was when when I was 12, and it was paid for by people other than my parents. I never even went on these one-off school trips to places like Wales. I know the stress that no time away, no R & R, can have in a family and on school grades.

Sure, Mr Platt, the parent at the centre of this court case, isn’t trapped on a council estate like I was, but this decision applies to everyone. The decision is morally wrong for two fundamental reasons.

1. If a child’s attendance, punctuality, and attainment are otherwise good — that is, the child is being well cared for by their parents –, this ruling still does not allow parents to manage their children as they see fit. As it has been put today, parents must seek permission from the headmaster. This is a disgraceful decision, incredibly statist, and goes against the longstanding established liberal British and common sense mindset. It’s well-known that regular breaks from work or study yield greater periods of productivity.

2. It has been stated that taking kids out of school hampers the individual kid and their classmates from getting good GCSE graces due to the disruption caused. Well, you know what also hampers good GCSE grades? Tired, stressed, fatigued parents and children who don’t go on holiday or who can only holiday through excessive sacrifice in other areas. Trust me, I know.

It also needs to be said that GCSE attainment is far from the be-all-and-end-all of, well, anything. Lasting bonding time, fond memories, and a stress-free body will stand the child in good stead. That one holiday I took left me with more good memories, love for my family, and a rounded outlook than all the good GCSE grades I ultimately got. GCSEs have got me nowhere; when you’ve got A Levels, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, that’s what counts.

This case just goes to show that even in our fair, rational, and outstandingly excellent legal system, atrocious decisions are made which affect peoples lives badly.

Note: I wrote this post at the time when this story came out, but I suffered an enforced hiatus from posting. However, whilst Mr. Platt’s story is no longer current, the issue which it refers to is still relevant. Thus, I have decided it’s still very much worth posting.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39504338

Brexit, A Second Referendum, and Double Jeopardy @juliahb1 #Brexit

Many opponents of Brexit (which I am sure you know refers to Britain exiting the European Union) say that we the British people should get a second vote, just to make sure that we still want to leave. Such people include former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major. After all, we voted almost two years ago, and so much has changed since then. This proposed second vote would specifically be based on the yet-to-be-agreed final deal that the Government is currently trying to negotiate with the EU. If we the people don’t like the final deal, then we the people should have the right to change our minds. After all, they say, isn’t that the essence of democratic choice? If we don’t like a particular politician we’ve voted in, we can always vote them out again come the next election. So why shouldn’t we be able to change our mind about this too? It is the supporters of Brexit who, despite their cries about “democracy”, are the true anti-democrats.

Well, that’s how heavyweight remain supporters such as Alistair Campbell, John Major, Tony Blair, Kenneth Clarke, and, err, Femi Oluwole have it.

But this view, despite being superficially highly convincing, is nonsense.

Firstly, their analogy is flawed; when we elect a politician, we don’t then have a second vote to see if we really do want them to be elected. Rather, the politician is in fact elected. Likewise, Brexit should in fact happen. Sure, if we change our minds at a future date, we should be free to try to reapply to the EU. And in fact, we would be free to reapply. Just as we would be free to not re-elect that politician.

Secondly, as I pointed out in my 26th June 2016 blog post, where I predict a second referendum and that the UK would never leave the EU, the people are almost never asked if they want to go along with the ever-closer union and integration. Former Prime Minister John Major, who is so shrill in claiming democracy requires a second EU referendum, never gave his own parliamentary party, let alone the people, a free vote on the Maastricht Treaty, the treaty which created so much of what is now the EU. Indeed, he insisted on brutal discipline to get the vote through parliament, including secretly flying in hospitalised MPs and making them vote his way(!), famously calling his few uncowed parliamentary opponents “bastards”. (As a point of interest, the Maastricht Treaty and the atrocious way Major handled the whole thing, directly resulted in the formation of UKIP.) Second votes are apparently only required when things don’t goes John Major’s way.

Indeed, when the people are from time to time asked, they almost invariably vote against the European Project. Yet they are always asked to vote a second time, just to make sure. And of course, with the right pressure and scare-mongering, they unfailingly return a vote in favour of the EU.

I’ve gotten into arguments with people who don’t understand why the people changing their minds in a second vote or a second vote at all would for me constitute an egregious violation of democracy. The best analogy I can give is to the famous legal rule of “double jeopardy”.

Double jeopardy states that an individual cannot be tried again for the same or similar offence on the same or similar evidence once acquitted. The logic is that, if they could be tried again, they would never truly be free or be able to live freely or in peace. Why not? Because the powers that be could simply try the individual again and again and again and again, grinding the defendant’s willpower, money, and life into the dust, until he is no longer able to fight back, and/or until a judge or jury can be found who would find in favour of the prosecution.

Yes, whilst it might sense to try the defendant again if new evidence comes to light, the rule of double jeopardy is clearly in fact one of the greatest tools defending individual liberty. Or at least, it was, until 2003 when the Labour government of Tony Blair and his henchman Alistair Campbell went a long way to “abrogating”, that is, removing, this ancient liberty.

And perhaps that is why Blair, Campbell, and all their ilk don’t understand why a second vote would be undemocratic. They simply don’t buy into the notion of democracy, even though they probably think that they do; rather, they buy into the Aristotelian and continental European view,  that the plebs are too stupid to know what’s good for themselves, and only an elite Philosopher-King, or a committee version thereof, is able to rule the people and thereby allow the people to be free by preventing them from allowing their own plebbish baseness to cause harm to themselves. Like children, we should be free, but like children, if allowed total freedom, we would soon end ourselves. Yet this is the very opposite of democracy.

But to the rest of us, trying an acquitted person again and again and again, is a flagrant abuse of freedom. And to get the people to vote again, but this time the “right way”, is an equal abuse. We voted to leave knowing that, whilst there were countless ramifications to that decision — just as there are when we vote in any referendum or election –, we would in fact leave.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2016-10-05-1475670108-7560650-brexit1.jpg

Brexit, The Deal, and the EU’s Long Game #Brexit

I’ll keep this to the point.

If the UK does not fully leave the Customs Union (CU), the Single Market (SM), and the European Court of Justice (ECJ), then the UK will not be able to take back control of our borders, our laws, and our trade deals. We’ll be a vassal of the EU. And in ten years’ time when Brexit has not worked out well due to our being hamstrung from the get-go, I fear that enough of the people will buy the hype that we will be sold: that we never should have left the EU.

I saw one person on Twitter deride Brexiteers saying that, ‘when Brexit fails, you guys will say what all the old communists said after the USSR failed: “but they didn’t do it right!”‘. There is a grain of truth in this, except this 140 character journalist got one thing wrong. Even though I oppose communism, the USSR didn’t actually do it right: Marx and Engels were clear that Communism would only work if the society evolved through and past capitalism, but would fail if a society “jumped” a social stage. Well, the USSR did indeed jump from agricultural straight into communism, by-passing capitalism. Likewise, if we are not free to pursue our own path 100% freely, whether that path be Corbynistic Commie Heaven, or a Singapore-on-the-Thames style tax haven, or anything in between, then Brexit will fail.

I think the EU supporters, within and without our nation, are playing the long game here. They know that the semblance of a true Brexit, coupled with things not working out as well as we would like, plus another 8 years or so of EU influence and propaganda, will soften up the pro-Brexit side to the point where, they reckon, we will be begging to rejoin the EU — on any terms. And that means joining the Euro. We’ll be nothing but a non-sovereign state, a Mississippi or an Idaho.

We cannot take our eye off the ball. And if our generally useless leaders succeed in giving us a true Brexit, then I foresee most hardcore remainers ten years from now, claiming, ‘Well, I was never really anti-Brexit; I always knew it was going to work out’. But we must make sure that we leave the CU, the SM, and the ECJ.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2016-10-05-1475670108-7560650-brexit1.jpg

How North Korean’s Regimes WILL Fall

So, this article about recent* goings-on in North Korea has got me a thinking.

My cod assessment: the North Korean regimes will in fact fall in my lifetime. Why? As the article points out, all capable people are being replaced with toadies. Being chosen on their toady-ness means they are likely less capable. Less capable suck-ups are people who are less able and likely less willing to challenge the boss. This leads to a cycle of incompetence which ultimately leads to fall of the regime. This is has happened time and again throughout history.

So you heard it here first. North Korea, with its current ruling family, will fall in the twenty-first century, no doubt; probably by 2050 or so.

[UPDATE] I had this short post saved since February 2017; current events in Korea are making my “2050” look more like “20:50 Friday evening”.

[UPDATE 2] *This post is a year old and I just never posted it. Even though it is no longer topical. it probably will be again soon, knowing North Korea. And I hate to have drafts hanging about. So I’m posting it.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea#/media/File:Flag_of_North_Korea.svg