Saturday, May 08, 2010

Vague constitutional ramblings

Well, wasn't that all very exciting? I generally enjoyed the election, was quite pleased with the result, and am currently enjoying the fallout. All the talk is of electoral reform. Intriguing. I just had a few random thoughts that I wanted to share.

1. I'm not sure people understand British democracy. People are upset that they aren't getting the government they voted for - well, I have news for you: the British people don't vote for a government. You voted for your local representative. You may or may not have got the person you wanted, but you will have got the representative that most people in your area wanted. That is as far as your democratic rights go in this country. We choose representatives, and we trust them to have some influence on how the government is formed.

2. I'm sure the TV debates helped with this misconception. It felt like we were voting for Gordon, Dave or Nick - after all, they were the people we saw debating.

3. I am certain that pure PR would be a disaster. It's interesting to look at post-war Germany, and the power the FDP had. With only slight changes in the relative left-right balance, the FDP could decide who got to govern. I'd hate to have a system where the Lib Dems always got to choose the government.

4. I think we need to keep the link between MPs and their local constituencies. Moreover, I certainly want to vote for a person, not just a party.

5. If the British people want to elect their government (I would advise them against it), perhaps we could separate this government election from the election of MPs? That way, the governmental election could use some form of PR without messing with the current representative system. This would be something like a Presidential system, and would therefore completely mess up the constitution - it would probably move us in a republican direction.

On second thoughts, forget I mentioned it. It sounds dreadful.

In the meantime, it's all very interesting indeed.


  1. My idea is to have bigger constituencies, say 500 of them, where you vote as you do now, perhaps with the 1st/2nd preference system in place so each MP gets to 50%. Then you could have 100 further MPs who are not constituency-based, and are elected based on pure PR, one for each percentage point gained. Not perfect, but nothing is, and you could have at least one vote knowing that it would count. Nothing more depressing than being in a 'safe' seat and voting for the losing side for 50 years.

  2. I'm moving toward thinking AV+ is indeed the best option - keeps the best of the current system, but fixes some of its shortcomings...