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 SNP are Opportunistic Scum @theSNP @NicolaSturgeon #IndyRef2

… the SNP and Scotland are not the same thing …

I am a unionist … but I am a democrat above all else … if Scotland wanted to leave the UK, then it is undeniably right that they should leave … Yet now demonstrably is not the time for another referendum.

I’ve lost all respect for the Scottish National Party. They are acting like opportunistic, hateful scum. None-the-less, I still 100% respect the idea of Scottish Independence; let’s not conflate the SNP and Scotland, as if they were the same thing, even though Sturgeon and her motley crew keep trying to blur the distinction.

I want to be clear about something.

Yes, I am a unionist and believe that the four nations of the UK are better off together. However, I am a democrat above all else. And even though it would break my heart, if Scotland wanted to leave the UK, then it is undeniably right that they should leave, although I would bid them adieu with a tear and a friendly handshake. See my posts about the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum for more about my views.

But now demonstrably is not the time for another referendum. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon talks about the “democratic outrage” of not being allowed to hold another independence reference by 2018-2019. But I think the only outrage is her behaviour and that of other SNP top brass.

Let’s get real.

  1. The official logic of a 2018-2019 Scottish Referendum is that Scotland will remain in the EU if it leaves the UK before the UK leaves the EU. However, this “logic” is horseshit and has been repeatedly shot down by everyone in the EU. The United Kingdom has membership of the EU, and Scotland would not inherit the UK’s membership. Therefore, Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU even if it seceded from the UK but the rest of the UK remained in!
  2. Scotland knew that there would be an EU referendum and therefore knew that if it voted to remain in the UK, there would be the very real possibility that that would mean leaving the EU. Therefore, material circumstances haven’t changed in quite the way the SNP claim.
  3. It is plainly absurd for any Scottish Independence Referendum to be held before (1) we had left the EU, and (2) before the dust had settled. The SNP said this referendum was once in a lifetime; what, the lifetime of a gerbil? Wait for the UK to leave, and for the dust to settle, and then the Westminster government should be totally open to a new referendum.
  4. I wonder, though, if the SNP would be pressing for a second referendum in 2018-2019 if Scotland had voted to leave the UK… you know, just to make sure — after all, Brexit means circumstances have changed…
  5. The UK got opt-outs, and Sweden et al joined way back when. Any new member of the EU would have to adopt the Euro. Sorry, but that’s a fact. An “independent” Scotland in the EU would also be in the Euro.
  6. I still cannot grasp the fundamental logic of the SNP position, in any case: being 8% of the population of the UK, with 9% of the seats in the Commons, and one of four member states, is worse than what would be 1% of the population of the EU, with around 1.6% of the seats, and one of 28 member states…!!? This smacks of serious anti-English bias in the SNP leadership (not amongst members, though, who are mostly just patriotic Scots, not English-haters).

In short, the Scots are a nation and not a county of England — as Alex Salmond absurdly recently claimed is the opinion of those against doing IndyRef2 in the SNP’s timeframe of 2018-2019. And thus, they have absolutely the moral right to another referendum. Luckily, the UK government is more enlightened than, say, the Spanish government, and we’re happy to give a binding referendum to Scotland. But this timeframe of 2018-2019 is absurd. It is political opportunism. Let’s wait until the next parliament. If there is wide enough support for another referendum, then let’s crack on with Indy Ref 2!

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/JMGMGAzWY2_0pSOjbb.xWA–/aD0xMTUyO3c9MjA0ODtzbT0xO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/http://media.zenfs.com/en_uk/News/skynews/472583032-1-2048×1152-20160625-011514-005.jpg

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

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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

Fairy Rugby @rugbyworldcup @rugbyworldcup #RWC2015

rugby-world-cup-England-2015

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

 

EU Trade Law

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Scotland’s plan to introduce a 50p per unit of alcohol policy may infringe EU trade laws (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-34133269).

I have been massively against Scotland pursuing this policy as I think it will damage the alcohol industry and also not help alcoholics at all. Rather, it will merely penalise poor people and is an easy way for the Scottish government to rinse the masses.

However, the idea that the EU can dictate to nations what they can and cannot do within their own borders is disgusting. The United Kingdom can do whatever the hell it pleases, and we please that Scotland has such rights. It is not for the EU to tell the UK or Scotland what we can do. People need to wake up to this reality: the EU simply does not exist to serve the democratic will or prerogative of nations, and never has — but rather, it exists to serve its own strengthening and survival.

And it is for a thousand “little” reasons like this that I will be voting for the UK to leave the EU in the forthcoming EU Referendum. No jingoism, no racism or hatred, just a belief that the people of a nation should decide their own fate.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/3224006627.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

rugby-world-cup-England-2015

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

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

Bryan Parry: Genius

The United Kingdom's New Flag?

The United Kingdom’s New Flag?

Scotland is going to vote on Thursday 18th of September. The outcome will decide if Scotland stays as part of the United Kingdom or becomes an independent nation. If the people in Scotland vote to leave the UK, that means that the left-over part of the United Kingdom might have to change its flag; the Union Jack gets it’s blue, after all, from the Scottish flag.

I came up with some alternative, Scotlandless UK flag designs. I believe this was 2012, but it may have been before. Either way, I posted my ideas up in July 2013, and then again more recently. Check out my posts here and here.

The Metro newspaper had an article (12th Sept. 2014) with what the Flag Institute believes should be the flag of a Scotlandless UK (below). Look familiar? As you can see, I think that qualifies me as a genius: yes, Bryan A. J. Parry invented the British Flag (kind of). I expect the cheques in the post any day now…

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© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry