Tag Archives: House of Commons

Which house is most representative?

Representativeness of Parliament
The above graphic shows an interesting take on the “representativeness” of the two Houses of Parliament in the UK. (graphic: © Outside The Marginals) Continue reading

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”.

Continue reading

A representative parliament or one that “looks like us”

One of the things highlighted by the formation of the current Coalition Government is that governments are formed by agreement of the Commons and not by agreement of the electorate.

My previous post highlighted that we do not vote for governments but for representatives – the government is indirectly elected through achieving a majority on a vote of confidence or a Queen’s Speech. I concluded:

if we are to live under a Parliamentary indirect system of democracy, that system must ensure that the elected representatives (as a Parliament) are more representative of the people who consent to be governed by them. Then if we accept that Parliament is representative, we should consent to being governed by them.

Today Democratic Audit UK carries a guest posting by Labour MP for Slough, Fiona Mactaggart. (British democracy is made stronger by greater diversity, though we still have much further to go) In making her case she misses a major element of the diversity that we need to ensure that those “who elect” our governments (our MPs) are truly representative. Continue reading

Who we vote for

One of the little understood issues with our present system – indeed with all Parliamentary systems (as opposed to Presidential systems) – is what we are actually voting for at a General Election.

We are voting for representatives not governments – despite what the media coverage says. From this flow a number of consequences and not a little confusion. Continue reading

STV for MPs electing a Speaker, but not for us!

So in the by-election for a new deputy speaker there are seven candidates and according to the BBC News website (15 October 2013 Deputy Speaker: Seven Conservative MPs to contest ballot):

The election will be conducted under a system known as single transferable vote, where MPs will be able to list their preferred candidates in order of one to seven on the ballot paper.

If no candidate secures 50% plus one of the votes in the ballot, the candidate with the least votes will be eliminated and their preference votes re-distributed to other contenders. This process will continue until a winner emerges. Continue reading