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

Advertisements

GOP Debate 11 #gopdebate

image

I’ve been following the US primary elections avidly as I do every cycle. I would have fifty debates, if I could; I just can’t get enough of it! Although I never really blog about it (I don’t get paid for writing this, y’know; plus, regularly writing about the lunacy of US politics would consume my life and my sanity if I let it!). I have to say, I always find the Republican debates far more entertaining than the Democratic ones; the Republicans do batshit crazy like no one else. But to their credit, they also debate real ideology, instead of the bland New Labour-like stylings of the Democrats.

This election cycle, the debates have been particularly interesting. Whether it is Bernie Sanders who offers a genuinely different approach, albeit not as revolutionary as many make out. Or the trump card Donald Trump-ness of Donald Trump. This has been top dollar entertainment.

Some great moments of recent debates for me have been:

  • Marco Rubio’s robotic repetition of “Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing”, which was brutally destroyed by Chris Christie: link.
  • Rubio landing a heavy blow on Trump. “Now he’s repeating himself” “No, no, no. I don’t repeat myself”. “You don’t repeat yourself!? You repeat yourself every day(!)” “Talk about repeating yourself. I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago” “I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago… I watch him repeat himself every night. He says five things: everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again, we’re gonna win, win, win, he’s winning in the polls, and the lines around the states”.
  • Ben Carson dropping out! Never knew an allegedly educated man could be so stupid.
  • Clinton pathetically trying to copy the rhetoric of Sanders in a most see-through fashion. Her naked ambition is sickening.

The banter levels have only got higher as the debates have gone on. The 11th GOP debate had some fantastic moments.

  • Ted Cruz telling Trump, “I know it’s hard not to interrupt, just breathe, breeeathe, breeeeeeathe,  you can do it(!)”
  • Marco Rubio: “When they’re done with the yoga, can I just answer the question?” Cruz: “I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage”. Rubio: “Well, he’s very flexible, so you never know”.

But quite apart from sharing my joy at this freak show, I wanted to briefly share my thoughts on Trump.

Trump has undoubtedly said a lot of nasty, ignorant, terrible things, things wholly unbecoming of a would-be President. A stand-out moment of idiotic, racist, crassness was the calling for all Muslims to be banned from entering the US ‘until we can figure out what’s going on’. I mean, really? Am I watching a parody, or is this real? Scenes like this would lie on the cutting room floor of The Thick of It for being deemed too unrealistic. I secretly suspect that, just like Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, we will find out that this was all just an eleborate stunt, and that Jeb Bush was actually already selected as the GOP candidate six months ago.

But despite Donald Trump’s nonsensical, woman-hating, over-the-top, racist, moronic, loud-mouthed bile fountain, I have been saying the following for a while now: I bet he will make an alright President.

Huh!? What!?!!

Yeah, seriously. True, everything he says is offensive to liberal-minded, decent people. Wait, scrap that: everything he says is offensive to anyone with a brain, including the most right-wing of the right (hence why there is currently a movement to try to “Dump Trump” in the GOP). But amidst the ape-shit poo-flinging, there are moments of clarity.

He seems to be a pragmatist and genuinely not bound by allegiance to donors or the party elite, able to change his tune at the drop of a hat. But this is different from flip-flopping. For all his yelling, he seems a pragmatist, not a flip-flopper or an ideologue, and he’s no tool of corporate interests, either.

He has repeatedly had a soft line on foreign affairs, from open dialogue to Putin and others to not getting involved in carpet bombing Syria or invading foreign countries. He talks about doing away with Obama care like all the other Republicans, but he has specifically said that he will not let a single poor person die on the street or go without treatment. Other candidates have mocked him, saying he will involve the Federal government to achieve this. He has admitted to changing his mind and positions on various things instead of dishonestly trying to claim he always had the same position. And come on! The guy is a massively successfully businessman — even though he “only” received a “small loan of a million dollars” from his Daddy to get started. You don’t become as successful in business as him without being a flexible, pragmatic, open-minded, but hard-nosed negotiator.

These relatively moderate positions are all cloaked in right wing rhetoric (Build a wall! Winning, winning, winning! Take care of our vets! Ban Muslims!). I think this cloaking is clever stage management to smuggle the less offensive real Trump into office. I foretell a massive change of rhetorical style, if not content, if and when he receives the Republican nomination.

Furthermore, that the Republican establishment hate him and that he is self-financed and cannot be beholden to big money are all the more reason to think he wouldn’t be a bad choice.

And it’s not just me. Analyses of his positions show that he is far from the most extreme man on the Republican stage. And that’s based on his current rhetoric, which as I say, I suspect is phony.

So in short, whilst the toxic rhetoric of Trump would at first glance seem to be a million miles from what is required of a President of the United States, I have the sneakiest suspicion that it is mostly a persona cleverly constructed and worn by the Trump. I think that, of the remaining four GOP and two Democratic candidates, Trump is far from the worst; indeed, he might be one of the best.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.teenvogue.com/story/11th-gop-debate-trump-kelly

Voting Reform

vote-toss

The results of the General Election have thrown up some intriguing uncertainties. For example, will the SNP’s unprecedented success precipitate the break up of the UK?

But one thing is certain from the results: the voting system needs to be changed in time for the next General Election.

Consider this. The UK Independence Party received almost four million votes. That’s the third highest and a total 12.6% share of the vote. Yet the party only received one seat in Parliament. Yet 12.6% of the 650 House of Commons is 82 seats!

Whatever you may think of UKIP, this is a travesty and makes a mockery of any notion of British “democracy”.

But it’s not just UKIP who were done over by our voting system.

The LibDems got two and a half million votes, a 7.9% share. Yet they received 1% of the seats.

The Greens gained 1.15 million votes, a 3.8% share. They only received a single seat.

On the other hand, the SNP got 50% of the vote in Scotland, yet a whopping 95% of all seats! Not quite as dramatic, but the Conservatives won 51% of the seats on a mere 36.9% of the vote.

And bear in mind that 33.9% of the eligible population didn’t even vote! That means the Conservatives were only supported by 24% of the voting age population, yet got more than half the seats.

Our system really is winner takes all.

A lot of people I’ve been speaking to have been really quite confused. So I’ll explain our system.

The country is divided into voting areas (constituencies). Whichever candidate gets the most votes in any area wins that seat. Everyone else gets nothing. This was UKIP’s problem: they came second in 120 seats nationwide! But first in one seat is better than second in a hundred under our system.

Perhaps in the era of two party politics, our current system worked well (for example, in the 1950 General Election, the Conservatives and Labour respectively gained 40% and 46.1% of the vote and 35.2% and 46.1% of the seats). But we no longer exist in that era, and never will again. So it’s time to change.

The only arguments in favour our system are that it’s easy to understand and produces stable government. Well, I think the idea our politics is stable is now laughable. And easy to understand? How can anyone understand a party receiving 12.6% of the vote getting a mere 0.15% of the seats?

The system needs to change. That is clear. But change to what? There are so many alternatives that the mind boggles.

Luckily for us, however, the UK has been engaged in numerous pilot schemes trialling different voting systems for a while now.

  • In the London Assembly, Welsh Assembly, and Scottish Parliament, the Additional Member System is used. It is semi-proportional; winners are chosen as in the General Election, but there are extra seats for each area which are awarded proportionally.
  • The London Mayor is selected by the Supplementary Vote system. Everyone picks their first choice and second choice. If no one candidate receives 50% of the vote, then all candidates except the top two are eliminated, and all second preference votes are redistributed. The candidate with most votes after these supplementary votes are added is the winner.
  • European Parliament elections are done according to the d’Hondt method which, more-or-less accurately, gives a proportional share of seats based on share of vote. For example, in the 2014 European Parliament Elections, the percentage of votes/seats won was: UKIP 26.6/32.88, Labour 24.43/27.40, Conservative 23.05/26.03, Green 6.91/4.11, SNP 2.37/2.74, and so on.
  • In London council elections, each ward elects up to three representatives.
  • There are many other systems in use in the UK. See here for all the details.

Clearly, no voting system is perfect (this is actually scientific fact: just see New Scientist‘s article if you don’t believe me), but we need to make votes count. Some ways include more even-sized constituencies so each vote is equally valuable, instant easy right to sack any MP / call a by-election, direct voting by the population, easily triggerable referenda, and so on. But changing the electoral system is key.

My proposal

Whilst I don’t want to break the link between MP and constituency, nor introduce two kinds of MP, I think the best solution is either a proportional system based on voting regions, e.g., the four nations or sub-regions thereof, or a London-style Additional member system with the current system supplemented by proportional elected regional MPs.

The 2015 General Election results were a travesty and a miscarriage of justice. Indeed, they were a farce. Let’s move into the twenty-first century.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

References
Full results: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results

Scottish Parliament Electoral System: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/Education/16285.aspx
European Parliament Electoral System: http://www.europarl.org.uk/en/your_meps/european_elections/the_voting_system.html
Other voting systems used in the UK: http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elections-and-voting/voting-systems/
European Parliament Election Results 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament_election,_2014_(United_Kingdom)
New Scientist on the impossibility of fair elections: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627581.400-electoral-dysfunction-why-democracy-is-always-unfair.html#.VVYou2dFCM8

Featured image from http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/06.11/images/vote-toss.jpg

 

General Election 2015 Predictions: Aftermath

image

The 2015 General Election is almost done, with less than a dozen seats left to declare. David Cameron has won, and with an outright majority.

Huw Edwards on the BBC said, “Nobody predicted this”.

Well, not quite nobody, Huw:

https://doggerelizer.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/general-election-2015-predictions/

As you can see, a nobody predicted this. If everybody wants to come to this nobody’s house and offer me a top boffin job and / or fat wodges of cash in return for my god-like insights, I will consider your offer.

But how did I get this right when top bods around the country didn’t? Was it luck? Was it insider knowledge? Was it a time machine or a cellophane-sealed batch of NZT-48?

Actually, it was simply a matter of being realistic, objective, and following the ebb and flow both on the streets (as a political activist, myself; I’m not a drug dealer) and in the media.

But my supernatural gift of foresight comes as a small crumb of relief because the party I voted for did not win. Also, I didn’t put a damn bet on!

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.link2portal.com

General Election 2015 Predictions

image

I’ve been saying this for weeks, but I’ll say it here so there’s proof of how prescient and insightful I am, so all will flock hither to worship at my feet. Unless I’m wrong, of course, in which case I’ll promptly delete this post and deny ever having written it!

  • Everyone’s talking about coalition. Will it be Conservative-LibDem? Or Labour-SNP? Or Labour-LibDem? Or a “progressive” coalition of  Labour, SNP, LibDem, and Green? I personally think one party will win outright; no coalition will happen.
  • Despite the polls and the poll of polls saying for a while now that Labour will win most seats (if not an outright majority), I think that the Conservatives will win an outright, albeit narrow, majority. P.S. This is not wishful thinking: I’m not a Tory!
  • UKIP MPs Douglas Carwell and Mark Reckless will both lose their seats. UKIP will win a grand total of 1 or 0 seats.

Friday will tell whether I am a genius, or this post never happened.

featured image from http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/media/images/81891000/jpg/_81891191_f40ce8ec-ccb8-4108-892b-50ae511a42d8.jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

Vote Hope, Not Fear

image

Tomorrow, you will vote in a General Election.

All of the main parties are trying to scare you into voting for them.

The Conservatives tell you about the horror of a Labour-SNP coalition.

Labour tell you about the horror of a Conservative government which will cut, cut, cut.

The LibDems tell you about the horror of a hung parliament.

But I say:

VOTE HOPE, NOT FEAR.

Don’t vote to keep the other guy out.

Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils.

Vote for who you want to win. Even if it’s the Greens or UKIP and they won’t win anyway.

Be brave. Vote for your favourite candidate or party. Don’t vote for who you   wouldn’t hate the most to win: only by being brave like this, will we eventually change politics in this country.

featured image from http://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/images/Salmond%20Miliband%20Call%20The%20Tune%20(3).jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

General Election 2015: Ideologies

 

liblabcon

The General Election is on 7th May 2015. So the question is, who should you vote for? 

There’s lots of reasons to vote for one party or another. But me, I like to know where people stand. I mean, where they really stand, not what they say. And whilst policies may change or be ill-thought-out, the fundamental underlying ideology which motivated those policies is key. Therefore, voting for the underlying ideology is a good reason to vote one way or another (even if some of the policies may be a tad dodgy).

The following represents what I believe to be a fair, one-sentence summary of the core ideology of each of most of the prominent British parties. I try to be as neutral, yet blunt, as possible — but you’ll see that I can only go so far on that point.

VOTE BNP if you believe in the rights of white, Anglo-Celtic Britons being put first.

VOTE GREEN if you believe that the environment is the single most important and pressing issue of our age and you believe that socialist-leaning policy can solve this.

VOTE PLAID CYMRU if you believe in putting Wales above everything else and that this should be done with socialist-leaning policies.

VOTE SNP if you believe in putting Scotland above everything else and this should be done with socialist-leaning policies.

VOTE UKIP if you believe that democracy is the most important issue of all and that British democracy is best served by leaving the EU and that this should be done with mixed / centrist policies.

VOTE CONSERVATIVE, LABOUR, OR LIBERAL DEMOCRAT if you like a blander style of politics with no underlying ideological commitments whatsoever.

SAY NO TO THE FALSE CHOICE OF THE “LESSER OF TWO EVILS” PHONY PARADIGM

Labour are no longer a socialist party. The LibDems are not really a liberal or a democrat party. The Conservatives are not a conservative nor a nationalist party. These three parties have no underlying ideology any more and they therefore cannot be trusted on anything they say.

futurama

The whole thing reminds me of the following skits from The Simpsons and Futurama.

The politics of failure have failed. It’s time to make them work again!
The Simpsons http://youtu.be/Tv5CT7r3Txo

[presidential candidates Jack Johnson and John Jackson having a debate]
Jack Johnson: It’s time that someone had the strength to stand up and say, ‘I’m against all those things that everybody hates!’
John Jackson: Now, I respect my opponent, I think he’s a good man, but quite frankly: I agree with everything he just said!
[…]
Jack Johnson: I say your titanium three cent tax goes too far!
John Jackson: And I say your titanium three cent tax doesn’t go too far enough!
Futurama http://youtu.be/Fs9P44voNfU, http://youtu.be/f69PnAUwv-E

People say, ‘A vote for UKIP is a vote for Ed Milliband’. People say, ‘A vote for the Greens is a vote for David Cameron’. People say, ‘Let’s vote for the lesser of two evils’. And most egregiously of all, people say, ‘A vote for anyone other than Labour or Conservative is a wasted vote’.

Well I say, a vote for something other than that which I believe in is itself a wasted vote. If I believe in Slightly Sillyism, and therefore vote for the Slightly Silly Party, then my vote is not wasted even if no one else votes Slightly Silly. Why not? Because otherwise, I’d be voting Labour or the Conservatives, neither of whom I support, and so voting for them would indeed be a wasted (and an idiotic) vote.

REJECT this phony “Vote Evil A to keep Worse Evil B out” paradigm.

REJECT this phony “A vote for a smaller party is a wasted vote” paradigm.

REJECT the LibLabCon who all share the same values and background, i.e., those of the ruling class and the old boy network, and who have no coherent ideology, i.e., no principles whatsoever.

DO NOT vote Labour, LibDem, or Conservative just because you always have. DO NOT vote Labour, LibDem, or Conservative because of what they used to stand for.

VOTE FOR an ideology. REJECT LibLabCon. Even if this means spoiling your ballot by writing a minority party in who aren’t standing in your constituency, e.g., the National Liberal Party, the English Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and so on.

Also, check out this political alignment quiz and this link to the manifestoes.

Happy voting!

featured image from https://poppyreece.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/liblabcon.jpg

John Jackson and Jack Johnson image from http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/nonciclopedia/images/2/2c/Jack_Johnson_e_John_Jackson_(futurama).jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120429093102

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

The Stunning Fall of the British National Party

BNP_logo_edit

Some stunning facts about the rise and crash of the British National Party (BNP).

  • In 2008, Richard Barnbrook was elected to the London Assembley for the BNP; the party had achieved 5.3% of the vote (130,714 votes).
  • in the 2010 General Election, the BNP fielded a record high of 338 candidates (the fifth highest after Labour, Conservatives, LibDems, and UKIP) and polled 563,743 votes: the fifth highest number of votes, and twice the amount that the Green Party (who got a candidate elected) managed.
  • In May 2010, the BNP had over 14,000 members — more than UKIP.
  • By January 2015, the party had a mere 500 members.
  • In the 2015 General Election, the BNP will field only 8 candidates — half as many as the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

The phrase “Pyrrhic Victory” springs to mind: the 2010 General Election was the BNP’s most successful, yet 267 of its candidates got less than 5% of the vote and so lost their deposit — costing the party £133,500. This more-or-less precipitated their decline.

Shit happens.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image edited from http://www.sparksunderland.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/BNP_logo-620×250.jpg

References:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-the-bnp-has-almost-vanished-from-british-politics-10176194.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2010

http://www.bnp.org.uk/news/bnp-crashes-through-14000-membership-mark-%E2%80%94-party-now-larger-ukip

 

2015 General Election Manifestos & Policy Guide

 

 

General-Election-2015

The 2015 General Election is a mere 21 days away. Please read the manifestoes of each of the main parties. I’ve also included links to policy guides. Place your vote with full knowledge of the facts.

Policy Guide: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/manifesto-guide

Match the party to the policy: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-video-can-you-match-the-party-policy-to-the-manifesto-10178937.html

Conservative Party Manifesto: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/14/conservative-party-manifesto-2015-the-full-pdf

English Democrats Party Manifesto: http://www.englishdemocrats.org.uk/policies/full-manifesto.html

Green Party Manifesto: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/manifesto/Green_Party_2015_General_Election_Manifesto.pdf

Labour Party Manifesto: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/14/labour-manifesto-2015-the-full-pdf

Liberal Party Mini Manifesto: http://www.liberal.org.uk/elections/manifesto.pdf

Liberal Democrat Party Manifesto: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/8907/attachments/original/1429028133/Liberal_Democrat_General_Election_Manifesto_2015.pdf?1429028133

Libertarian Party, A Manifesto: http://libertarianpartyuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Libertarian-Manifesto.pdf
Libertarian Party 2015 Manifesto: http://libertarianpartyuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Manifesto-2015.pdf

National Liberal Party Manifesto: http://nationalliberal.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/GEManifesto.pdf

Plaid Cymru Party Manifesto: https://www.partyof.wales/uploads/Plaid_Cymru_2015_Westminster_Manifesto.pdf

Scottish National Party (SNP) Manifesto: <<forthcoming>>

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Manifesto: http://static.guim.co.uk/ni/1429097117463/theukipmanifesto2015.pdf

featured image from http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article10057263.ece/binary/original/General-Election-2015.jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

General Election 2015: Find Out What To Think, Next!

image

The General Election is a mere 30 days away and the politicians are desperately trying to make us choose them instead of whatever else is on the menu. But instead of setting the menu aside and just going for the same old dependable slurry that you always pick, open your mind up to change. I find think this quiz is pretty good. Take it and see who you really agree with (instead of who you think you agree with or who you want to agree with).

Enjoy!

http://uk.isidewith.com/political-quiz