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Sunday, May 31, 2009


Girdon Brown interviewed on Andrew Marr this morning. Mostly bluster about how all this fraud deeply upsets his "Presbyterian conscience" & that "people are rightly annoyed, I'm annoyed" at it & how there is going to be looking at massive reform. In due course
So I'm looking at the Bill of Rights. We're looking at whether there's a case for a written constitution.

I'm looking at the case for votes at 16. I'm looking for the case for extending freedom of information. The House of Lords cannot stay in its present form. And all these issues which would come to making - and you've written about it, Andrew - a new constitutional settlement, these are the issues that are now on the agenda because it's about parliament's accountability to the people.

You can look at fixed terms in the light of that and you can look at all sorts of other things like recall (of MPs by constituencies) in the light of that but the major issues…These are the sort of headline grabbing issues, but the major issues are how do you make parliament more accountable to the people of this country between elections as well as at elections.

But the real big constitutional issue which he doesn't mention is proportional representation. Everything else is cosmetic. Without that the cosy duopoly continues & people are told not to "waste their vote" on anybody else. Since the PM won't mention it Andrew has to & Gordo says
That's an issue that I've always been interested in because, look, there are three issues in voting reform that have got to be resolved and no system does it perfectly. Not one system in the world. First is, in my view, you've got to have a link between the constituency and the Member of Parliament.

And you know you've seen over these last few weeks the importance of that link because MP's have had to explain to their constituents why they've done what they've done and people want to feel that their geographical area is represented.

Secondly, the balance of an election has got to be fair and therefore people have got to think that the way the votes are counted are fair. And, thirdly, you've got to get out of this government that can govern, so you've got to get some form of democratic stability out of an election. These are the three criteria.


Which would add up to a system for the nerds who know about these things called AV Plus pretty much.


It might not, it might not. But it could add up to a debate about change that is a fair debate to have in this country.


And you're open to that?


I've always been open to debates…


(over) Because you kill…I mean you killed off Roy Jenkins' - may he rest in pieces - version of this ten years ago.


I am the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. I want to continue to be a member representing a geographical area with which I have responsibilities to meet.


With Gordon Brown at the top, could AV or a similar system be introduced for the House of Commons?


Well let's, let's see how the debate goes. But what I'm saying to you is that there are a whole range of issues in this debate that are prior to that about how you organise the Constitution.


There's an awful lot of long grass over there, if I can say that, where you're kicking…
Which is pretty much it. So he is prepared to "consider" a number of cosmetic changes & "debate" the option of a democratic electoral system but not do anything until everything else is fixed, or Hell freezes over or everybody has forgotten about it (I consider the middle one most likely.

On the other hand, with Labour likely to place 4th, possibly even 5th in the EU election, Alan Johnson looks like the one who will be making the decisions.

Meanwhile from an entirely different direction - Douglas Carswell a genuinely libertarian Conservative MP, who along with Daniel Hannan proud blogger & MEP (in that order), takes no shit from party leaders but whose book The Plan has heavily influenced Cameron's recent policy pronouncements - has come out for PR
Why? If 7 out of 10 colleagues in your workplace thought they had a job for life, would your business or organisation be firing on all cylinders? Parliament neither.

With so many of our law-makers returned from “safe seats”, for far too many of our MPs there simply isn’t much realistic chance of being ejected by the voters on polling day. Without genuine competition to be an MP, the weeds of indolence and entitlement that choke Westminster are able to take hold.

He then goes on to give a reasoned discussion on how any PR system must allow people who are not blue eyed persons on the party list to get in.

Interestingly the other comments, from a readership which is clearly overwhelmingly Conservative come out heavily for some system of PR though there is no agreement which one.

I have left a comment which gives an overall view of why I think PR, in one system or another, is vital if we are to call ourselves a democratic country.

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