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Comments

Denis Cooper

I thought someone might come out with the "House of Losers" business again.

So I will have to point out, again, that Henry Smith, the leader of West Sussex county council, probably shouldn't be classified as a "loser" even though he was 38 votes short of winning the Crawley seat in 2005:

Laura Moffat, Labour - 16,411
Henry Smith, Conservative - 16,374

So are you saying that he is unfit to play any part in the making of our laws?

Less fit, maybe, than the present occupants of the House of Lords?

It's actually a defect of the present system that the "winner takes all" no matter how narrow the margin by which he comes first, or whether he receives a majority of the votes cast. That defect would be largely addressed by giving a seat in the second chamber to the candidate who comes second: typically about 70 - 80% of those who voted would see their preferred candidate elected to Parliament.

Whether anybody elected to either chamber would remain in Parliament would depend on his performance, his wishes, the wishes of his local party, and those of the electorate in that constituency. He could work his way up from the second chamber to the first chamber, he could be demoted from the first to the second, or he could end up being out of Parliament altogether. Of course nobody would ever be guaranteed a permanent seat in either chamber.

aristeides

Sorry, Denis. Couldn't resist yanking your chain!

But come off it. You can't possibly justify your argument by taking the most marginal loser from the last election who just happens to be a splendid chap that you happen to agree with politically! What about the acres of Lib Dem dross who come second in seats up and down the country? Allowed to make laws over me? No thanks.

No - I just can't take your idea seriously.

Denis Cooper

Well, if you can mention Neil Hamilton, an exceptional case where an MP was disgraced, but refused to make a decent exit and was supported in that by his local Conservative Association (as I recall off hand), I can mention Henry Smith who under my system would have spent the last year and half as a member of the second chamber, serving his constituents in Crawley, providing much needed opposition to the government, developing his expertise as a Parliamentarian and establishing his reputation in readiness for the next general election.

I haven't done the count for 2005, but both the previous two elections would have returned far more Conservatives to the second chamber than Liberal Democrats.

platonist

The system proposed here would offer a far healthier, more competitive political environment with more of our most 'talented' and representative citizens in positions of power. REAL democracy.

There is NO POINT in having a 2nd chamber elected in exactly the same way as the first.

The appointment system we have currently is smacks staggeringly of crony-ism (god I hate that word).

The idea of the 'wise men and women' in the Lords is frankly scary - why not just put the Masons in there? (No, before anyone picks me up, I don't know what the female equivalent is).

Localism is sorely lacking in our politics. The more accountable our politicians are to their constituents, the less power the megalomaniacs and their whips will posess.

Matt Wright

There is a fundamental problem with Dennis's idea partcularly when he says that both the winner and next best loser of a seat could both end up representing that same seat! They would just undermine each other and create confusion amongst constituents. I do accept that someone who comes a close second clearly has some form of mandate. Possibly an improvement on this idea might be to take all the best near winners in counties across the Uk and put them in the HoL but not representing a partcular seat. Really though I don't like the idea of elected Lords not because I am a snob or something but because we need a system that is genuinely different from the first chamber and a real check and balance. I still think something based on my list of wise people is the best,

Matt

Geoff

...why not just put the Masons in there? (No, before anyone picks me up, I don't know what the female equivalent is)...

There are many female Lodges. My better half belongs to one. Also there are the Order of the Amaranth, the Order of the Eastern Star, the White Shrine of Jerusalem and the Daughters of the Nile to my (limited) knowledge which are exactly the same as the group that people widely regard as a male bastion but are actually open to women separatly yet equally.

Equality, eh? Who'd have thought it in this day and age. Lodge is actually more equal and open in that respect than the Carlton Club.

I bet if DC was "outed" if he was found to be on the Square then there would be a media feeding frenzy. (no rumour, just an idle comment- I could have picked anyone as an example!)

People who decry Masonry as being men-only simply don't know what they are talking about. As this isn't a Lodge thread then if platonist wants to email me privately then I will happily help dispel a few myths with him/her.

Denis Cooper

Matt,

What you would see as a problem I would see as the introduction of an element of healthy competition! Eg if, say, the MP is slow to take up matters raised by constituents then they can turn to the SMP instead, and if that keeps happening then at the next election the two may swap places. A seat in the more powerful, in fact dominant, House of Commons will always be a more attractive prize for a committed politician than a seat in the less powerful second chamber - not to mention a higher salary, reflecting the greater power and responsibility.

I can see something rather like this now operating in Reading, which is one town divided in a fairly arbitrary way between two constituencies. From 1997 to 2005 there were two Labour MPs - Salter and Griffiths - plus Reading Borough Council was totally dominated by Labour councillors, and they worked together to support each other and suppress criticism, virtually setting up a kind of one-party state - even involving council officials, and issuing thinly veiled threats to the local papers that if they stepped out of line they could lose the council's advertising.

That could have continued to this day, except fortunately Salter and Griffiths fell out, for that and other reasons she was de-selected, and Rob Wilson took the Reading East seat in 2005. Now Salter finds that for the first time he is facing serious opposition and competition for public support in "his" town.

Martin Bennett

I wonder if we could include in the policy some mention of PARISH and TOWN councils which are after all, the tier of local government closest to the people. Why leave the decisions to principal authorities?

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