Category Archives: Parliamentary Cohesion

Conservatives and Exhaustive Transferable Voting

Tory MPs are going through a laborious process to whittle five candidates for leadership down to two – who the membership will then vote on.

They are doing it by “exhaustive balloting”. Today we have a poll of five, after which the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, before a poll of four on Thursday another elimination and then a poll of three next Tuesday.

This opens up scope for all sorts of machinations and sub-optimal results. Is there a quicker and possibly cleaner way? Continue reading

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In Praise of Indirect Democracy

We like to think that we elect governments – and most parties encourage this view with national campaigning, leaders’ debates and an emphasis on party discipline.

But we actually elect representatives to form a Parliament. It is members of that Parliament that vote to support a government and they decide issues rather than us. In that respect our democracy is “indirect”.

We are being progressively encouraged to think that more “direct” democracy is “better”. Witness the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners and the push for directly elected mayors.

I think this is wrong and that, for reasons of coherence and accommodating diversity, indirect democracy has a lot going for it.

This is particularly so as we face a potentially complicated hung parliament. This means that we are unlikely to have a government with a clear parliamentary majority – we will not have “elected a government”. So it will be up to our MPs, as a Parliament, to decide who forms the executive. This requires them to act as parliamentarians not as party hacks wedded to a series of “red-line promises”, “manifesto pledges” and “policy millstones”.

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Low Majority Dangers

Mark D’Arcy BBC Parliamentary correspondent writing about the prospects for the next Parliament and Government notes:

… the arithmetic of the next Parliament is only part of the reason why it will be so difficult to construct an administration capable of lasting even a couple of years.

The rise of UKIP, the Greens and the SNP means more MPs than ever before may be elected on an extremely narrow mandate.

Take a look at the 2010 result in Norwich South, where Lib Dem Simon Wright won on 29.4% of the vote, a hair ahead of the former Labour Home Secretary, Charles Clarke on 28.7%, with the Conservatives on 22.9%, the Greens on 14.9% and UKIP on 2.4%.

Many more seats will see three, four or even five party politics at the next election, so it’s not hard to imagine plenty of the next generation of MPs taking their seats on the basis of less than a third of the votes in their constituency.

They would have an acute sense of vulnerability. They would be under huge pressure to bring back the goods for their constituency, to deliver bypasses or new schools, fight local hospital closures, or fracking or whatever. And they could be vulnerable to constituency pressures on big votes.
BBC News Website 19 December 2014 : The next Parliament: Coalition 2.0 or confidence and supply?

This raises an interesting reflection on what we might mean by democracy. Continue reading

The US Election and Tuition Fees

I have been pondering on the nature of our government and legislature following the US mid-term elections and the announcement in the UK of the increase in University Tuition Fees (something that the Liberal Democrat members of the Coalition pledged not to do). Curiously I find the two events linked and have implications for how we should conduct future elections. Continue reading

What I want to be enfranchised

To be considered enfranchised I need:

  1. To be able to express a preference or preferences for individuals.
  2. For that expression to have some effect.

Continue reading