Wednesday, 29 October 2014

For Stability and Pluralism in Parliament, by David Lindsay

Two political parties exist specifically in order to provide the Government of the United Kingdom. They are organised to that end.

Other parties, and we Independents, have a different role.

The failure of the present electoral arrangements to take account of this distinction looks likely to be thrown into sharp relief next May. A Bill needs to be introduced in the first Queen’s Speech of the next Parliament.

It would need to be made clear from the very start that the Parliament Act would be invoked if necessary, and that there would be absolutely no question of a referendum.

The United Kingdom would be divided 300 constituencies, each containing as near as possible to one third of one per cent of the electorate, with the requirement that constituency boundaries straddle the United Kingdom’s internal borders wherever possible.

Each constituency would return three Constituency MPs.

On the first Thursday of a month-long process, it being quite a recent phenomenon that a General Election was held on one day everywhere, each constituency would elect two MPs.

The Labour Party and the Conservative Party would submit their respective internal shortlists of two to run-off ballots of the entire constituency electorate.

On the second Thursday, there would be a contest between the previous week’s Labour loser and the previous week’s Conservative loser.

One may, and people do, join both of those parties in Northern Ireland. They probably ought not to contest Assembly elections there, but that is something else.

On the third Thursday, each of the 99 lieutenancy areas would elect two County MPs, one from between two candidates submitted jointly by the Co-operative and Labour Parties, and one from between two candidates submitted by the Conservative Party.

And on the fourth Thursday, each of the 12 European Parliamentary regions would elect 12 Area MPs, six from lists submitted by other parties and six Independents, with each elector voting for one party list and for one Independent candidate, and with the highest scoring six in each category being elected.

Parties that chose to contest these seats would not be eligible to contest any other election.

This would give a total of 642 MPs.

This system would give a voice to smaller parties and to Independent candidates from all parts of the country.

It would give everyone direct representation within both the governing party and the Official Opposition. It would give the two main parties direct representative responsibility for every community.

Simultaneously, it would guarantee that there would always be either a Labour or a Conservative majority government. Only the extreme unlikelihood of a dead heat would ever deliver a hung Parliament.

The lowering of the voting age to 16 might also be included in this, although with the strict conditions that under-18s (indeed, under-21s, and perhaps even slightly older people) would be ineligible to serve on juries.

Far more urgently, there is the need to reduce the parliamentary term to four years, or, as would be even better, to abolish the fixed term altogether.

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