Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The One That Has A Plan. . .

So Gordon Brown is set to announce his plans to overhaul the voting system. The cynic in me supposes that he'll propose a system that will (assuming these changes won't be brought in tomorrow) ensure that Labour won't be given a hammering in the election after next.

I've got a few ideas. These are not fully investigated because proper electoral and constitutional reform is a big subject, but serve as an indicator of how I believe things could operate.

Prime Minister

To be directly elected. If that means that a Tory PM presides over a Labour House, then so be it. Republican Presidents have had to work with Democratic Houses before, and vice versa. This directly elected PM would not hold a seat. Those standing would not contest a seat, if you lose and spend 5 years out of a political job, tough. The term to be for a fixed five years however it can be shortened if 70% of the House vote in favour of a curtailment, if the Queen decides to exercise her prerogative or if the incumbent is charged with and convicted of an offence.

The Cabinet

To be made up of elected MPs, holding seats in the house. The PM would be free to choose whoever s/he wanted from the floor of the House. It would be unlikely, but if a Labour PM wanted a Tory as Defence Sec for example, then there would be no issue with that.

House of Lords

To be wholly elected. In the interests of tradition I would continue to enoble members as a mark of respect and recognition. Members to be elected without party affiliation, but on their record of private business/public or armed service and also for a term of 5 years. I would have elections on a county wide basis with each historic County (including unitary authorities within those borders) and the big metropolitan centres, for example London, Manchester, Birmingham/West Mids, Merseyside, Glasgow, Edinburgh, electing between 2 and 6 representatives depending upon population density. This means that if you object to what has been done in your name by your MP, or have a problem they cannot or will not assist with, you have a named individual sitting in the upper house you can go to.


Again, seats to be doled on a County basis as above and elected by named representative PR system. Don't like Mr. A representing party X, but do like Mrs. B representing that same party? Then vote for her. Seats in each County assigned along the percentage of the vote taken by each party with PPC expressing a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of seat to take. The number of personal votes taken giving the PPC their position on each party's list. If preferred seats are taken when your turn comes around, you must select another untaken seat from that County and serve as if those constituents were your first choice. Again a fixed five year term unless 70% of the House or the Monarch decides to dissolve Parliament and call an election.

Federal Britain

The national assemblies of Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland to be done away with as they stand. 3 weeks in the month, the MPs in their respective territories to sit in the existing chambers (with Westminster serving as English Parliament) discussing everything except foreign policy, defence and criminal law (yes, even for Scotland). For the final week, then the issues just mentioned will be discussed in the British Parliament with a monthly, one hour PMQ's where the PM will not sit on either side of the House. First Ministers in each territory's House to be decided in secret vote amongst the members.

County Councils

Existing as they do now but with a County Governor directly elected as with the PM. Once a fortnight, say Monday mornings, the MP's representing those Counties would be obliged to attend to be held to account for their dealings in the House. If 70% of the County chamber decide to recall an MP for reasons of poor attendance record/corruption then a by-election would ensue. Chamber serving on a five year term. Police Chiefs also to be elected at this level on a 5 year term.

City/Borough/Town Councils

Existing as they do now but with a directly elected Mayor as with the PM and County Governors. Once a fortnight the County Councillors would be obliged to attend to be held to account for their dealings in the chamber. If 70% of the local chamber decide to recall a County Councillor for reasons of poor attendance record/corruption then a by-election would ensue. Chamber serving on a five year term.

Parish Councils

Elected on a three year term with no party affiliation, with a new Chair being nominated from within every 12 months, you may not serve consecutive terms as Chair. The real local level of these councils means that the members would be accessible to everyone in their village/street/locale. By holding their C/B/T councillor to account once a month means there is a direct chain from the bottom to the very top, with each level accountable to the one below, therefore re-engaging people with the process.

I'm sure there are some gaping holes in my plans there, points I've missed or systems I've misunderstood, but one thing that is clear from the expenses scandal and the actions of a ruling party that refuse to bend to public opinion, changes must be made, and radical ones at that.

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