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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The EU Referendum and Scottish Independence @vote_leave #TakeControl #Brexit #EUReferendum #indyref2 #indyref

indyref2

There has been much talk in the EU referendum that a vote for leave would trigger a second Scottish independence referendum. Why? The logic is that support for the EU is highest in Scotland (leave is currently polling at a mere 17%). Indeed, the idea of a second Scottish independence referendum makes sense; if the majority of the UK, and a majority of the other constituent nations, voted for leave, but a clear majority in Scotland voted remain, this would indeed legitimately raise the question of whether the UK still worked for Scotland (if indeed it ever did). Certainly, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, is fond of raising this point.

As a unionist, yet someone who is strongly for leave, this worries me.

However, two points are worth making.

  1. The SNP’s position is incoherent. On one hand, they persist in calling for independence from the UK (actually, methinks, from England; I reckon the SNP would be happy for Scotland to carry on alongside the other Celtic nations). They say Westminster is too far away and removed from the affairs of Scots, and that being an independent nation would enable politicians in Scotland to much better represent the people of Scotland. Their logic: how could a population of a mere five million make its voice heard in a larger nation of some 65 million? Yet at the same time, the SNP equally firmly persists in the notion that being integrated within the EU, a far larger polity with some 508 million people!, would lead to better representation for the Scottish people. I simply cannot get my head round this, and I have never heard a truly convincing argument for how this makes any sense.
  2. What if a majority of England votes for leave, but the UK as a whole votes remain? Does England then get an independence referendum to leave the UK? I suspect, from anecdotal evidence, that the percentage of Englishmen wanting to leave the UK is higher than the number of Scots who do!

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/14/brexit-golden-opportunity-nicola-sturgeon-nightmare

Scotland’s Referendum: Aftermath

BeaumontScottishUnionFlag

Phew!

Scotland has decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom, and rather convincingly too: 28 councils ‘no’ vs. 4 councils ‘yes’, 55% ‘no’. Thank <<insert mythical being here>>! But, as the BBC keeps telling us over and over until the words have now lost all meaning, “a vote for ‘no’ is also a vote for change”. So here’s some serious pros and cons as I see it now that Scotland has voted ‘no’ to independence.

PROS

  • The Union has been saved — for now!
  • A record voter turnout of 86% has permanently re-invigorated the democratic process forever until tomorrow when it will be business as usual.
  • I won’t need an EU passport that they won’t check anyway because it’s the EU should I travel to Scotland in my life which I never have done so far even though I am thirty years old because it’s so cold and dreary up there and it’s cheaper to go to and stay in Malta or Spain from London than to Scotland which is ridiculous really but there you go…

CONS

  • The new Union Flag that I invented is no longer needed. I have been deprived of my latest and GREATEST accomplishment.
  • We’ll probably end up having this whole referendum again within the next 15 years (think Quebec 1980 and 1995).
  • Spain will carry on pretending to be democratic whilst actually overriding the will of the people at all times, and feel justified in doing so. To the point, Spain will now have greater cause to deny the Catalan people an independence referendum of their own. The cause of national democrats, like myself, has been dealt a blow.
  • The UK is stuck with Alex Salmond forever, it would seem.
  • We’ll probably end up re-awakening the Northern Irish question, possibily ending in a vote to see if Northern Ireland should stay as part of the UK or become a part of the Republic of Ireland (perhaps in some kind of concessionary Hong Kong-China style relationship). THEREBY resparking violence in Ireland.
  • English nationalism and resentment will likely bubble up again, due to the bending-over-backwards to appease the Scots, with more demands for more powers for England… probably resulting in England leaving the United Kingdom, or else England itself breaking up as every city and town decides it wants more and more powers.
  • The UK will likely now not leave the EU or get a better settlement for the UK (due to the influence of Labour and Scotland).

…wait. Why was I pro-union, again? Oh, shit!! Can we do this vote again please, and this time really irk the Scots so they vote ‘yes’…

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry