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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Fairy Rugby @rugbyworldcup @rugbyworldcup #RWC2015

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Chess is a great game, perhaps impossible to improve upon. Yet chess players will sometimes decide to mix things up, just for fun, by playing to different rules. They might introduce new pieces, or new powers for current pieces, or even change the point of the game. This is called “fairy chess”.

Likewise, Rugby Union is a wonderful game, perhaps impossible to improve upon. But, just for fun, here’s a few rules that you might want to muck around with. So without further ado, I present to you the somewhat unfortunately named “Fairy Rugby Union”.

  1. All rules are the same as in Rugby Union, except where stated below.
  2. Scrums are great, but they also slow the game down. Replace with free kick for the team which would’ve had the put in.
  3. Line outs are great, but like scrums take up time. Replace them with a throw in (under-arm or two-handed overhead) which can be in any direction. Which leads me on to…
  4. Forward passes are allowed. The lack of forward passing renders Rugby unintelligible to people from largely non-Rugby-playing nations (in my humble experience). Which also leads to…
  5. No knock-ons.
  6. The offside rule, just like the forward pass rule, is unintelligble to many from largely non-Rugby-playing nations. Do away with offside altogether.
  7. Now that tries will be relatively easy to score, change the ratio of points. For example, goals are still worth three, but a try is now two and a conversion five.

And there we are. Have fun!

*dons flame-resistant jacket*

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i1.wp.com/royal-fans.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/rugby-world-cup-England-2015.jpg

 

No Rugby World Cup 2015 Sticker Album? @rugbyworldcup @England2015 @RWC2015 #RWC2015

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I used to love collecting stickers as a kid. But despite being an avid sticker collector, we were pretty poor, so the only album I ever completed was the Rugby World Cup 1999 album. It was (kinda still is) my pride and joy.

I may now be 31 years of age, but in female years that is about eleven. So I’m pretty excited to buy the Rugby World Cup 2015 Official Sticker Collection.

One problem.

This seems to be the first RWC with no official album. What the hell!?!?!?!?

Someone tell me I’m wrong! I NEED MY STICKERS!!!

PULL YOUR FINGER OUT, MERLIN AND PANINI!

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i.ytimg.com/vi/ASsPVanwCyY/maxresdefault.jpg

Rugby World Cup 2015 @rugbyworldcup @rugbyworldcup @England2015

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The Rugby Union World Cup 2015 kicks off this Friday. I’m really excited about it, even more excited than usual — probably because it’s being held in England.

Bit of a confession-cum-sob story to tell you, though.

I was born in ’84. My first World Cup was South Africa 1995. I have eagerly followed every World Cup since then, even completing the 1999 official sticker collection! (The only sticker collection I ever completed without having to order missing stickers)

Yet I went through a difficult period in late adolescence (of about five years) when I almost totally went off all sport. Just happened to co-incide with the 2003 World Cup.

Yeah, the one that England won(!) The only World Cup I didn’t avidly follow and watch. (The only World Cup England won, for Rugby newbs out there).

I’m hoping for a dream home win for England, a win I might actually experience this time! And I’m hyped. Especially so given our tough pool (including, as it does, Wales and Australia): but I say, Bring it on!

Another confession (of sorts) to make.

The Spring Boks, The Wallabies, the mighty All Blacks, The Frogs, Semis and Final. Meh. My favourite time of the tournament is the pool stages. That’s when we get to see plucky teams with plenty of heart that we don’t normally: the Japans, USAs, and Fijis (what’s left of their team that hasn’t been pinched by other nations, that is *cough* Tuilagi *cough*). I just can’t get enough of those minnows!

Which leads me to a novel and, though I do say it myself, genius idea.

After the pool stage, when the top two teams from each pool progress to the Quarter Finals, there should be a parallel Losers World Cup, where all the eliminated teams duke it out for the title of “Best of the Rest”™. A kind of Bronze Final for the entire competition, if you will. Or a Europa League type competition (for the association football fans in the room). You like?

All of this is to say: I’m bouncing up and down and giddy with excitement. Friday can’t come soon enough!

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i1.wp.com/royal-fans.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/rugby-world-cup-England-2015.jpg

English Language Flag

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Today, the 23rd of April, is St. George’s Day — the patron saint of England. It is also William Shakespeare’s birthday, if you can believe such a co-incidence. And to add incredulity to unbelieveableness*, it is also UN Official English Language Day (chosen because it is the Bard’s birthday).

I’m English, and I’m an English teacher. I’m also a bit of a patriot, so it kind of irks when the US flag is used to represent the English language, such as on Duolingo. Although I do understand and accept the reasoning behind this choice (way more Americans than Britons).

Instead of either national flag, some people and organisations combine the British and American flags and use the resulting crossbreed to stand for the English language. This version’s pretty nifty:

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And BioWare, my favourite computer game company, have used the Canadian flag!

All of these options work really well. But I wondered to myself, What if there was a dedicated English language flag? What would it look like?

This is my answer to that age-old and most vexing of all questions:

EnglishLanguageFlag

Behold! The English Language Flag!

I think it’s confirmed: I am a recidivistic vexillophile! See my other forays into the points realms of made up flags here and here and here!

What makes a good flag design? It should be well-balanced, distinctive, obey vexilololo flaggy rules, and somehow represent what it is supposed to be the flag of. And it should stand out!

WARNING: Boring, Long-winded Explanation Here Follows; Feel Free to Zone Out

I think mine hits the nails on the heads. But what does my flag design represent?

The central pink stripe and the white stripes directly above and below it copy the horizontal part of St. George’s cross in their proportion. And pink itself was the colour of the British Empire. Whatever you think of the British Empire, it is clear that English would not have its current global reach were it not for the Empire.

The blue section at the top directly echoes the blue background of both the US flag (albeit, only in the top-left) and the British flag. The United States, and its cultural, social, economic, political, and military clout, has continued what the British Empire began — the spread and further global entrenchment of English.

Now the thin lines in the bottom. Their proportion, and the alternation of white and non-white, are deliberately meant to echo the US flag. The colours are meant to stand for the various nations which use English: orange, white and green for India, red for both the US and UK amongst other nations.

I make no apologies for recognising British and then American domination; the history of these two nations is utterly impossible to divorce from the story of the English language itself.

What do you think of my design? Do you think I spend too much time worrying about flags, too little about getting a real job?

 

*that was supposed to allude obliquely to the expression “to add insult to injury”, but I fear a little too obliquely, dear reader.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry