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We should campaign to lower the number of MPs by 50. (most of the 1st 50 to go are Labour MPS so will boost our chances of winning).

Redraw electoral boundaries so that all constituencies have the same number of electors. Would deliver another 20 seats.

Remove more Welsh/Scottish MPs from the chamber as most are non tory.

Increase the deposit required to stand for election to £5000 at least. That would discourage UKIP/BNP candidates from standing and deliver more votes to us.

That is the kind of electoral reform this country needs and should guarnatee almost unbroken tory rule.

You bet it has - big time!

We already have PR in many elections. European, London Mayerol, scottish/welsh/NI.

Why not just accept PR, that way we have a chance of some power. We have of course lost 3 elections in a row under FPTP.

Accept PR, do a deal with Clegg. Many of our policies are middle of the road now. We don't go in for that 'clear blue water' strategy anymore.

I think under Davids leadership we could easily reach a concensus now with the LIB Dems and perhaps a number of Labour and nationalist MPS. Form a National Government and start fixing Britain

I see that Margaret Hemming is proposing a wonderful non-partisan approach to democratic reform.

Long live democracy.

Any chance of England being recognised in this "planned radical voting reform "?

ie any chance of an England Act like the Scotland Act ,1998 ?

er , no , don't be silly , that would be democratic .

We are back to the school-yard games again - I'm not winning, so I'm moving the goal posts!!!

THIS IS MASSIVE GUYS!

This is Brown's first serious step to keeping the Conservatives out of power at the next election and beyond.

This is about doing a deal with the LibDems (at least half of them will find it irresistable) and then ensuring the centre left dominate for the years that follow.

HIGH STAKES.

Sorry for the capitals but I'm fizzing here.

In the days before the 1997 landslide all the talk was of Robin Cook, PR, Charter 88, etc. Of course once Labour realised it had a monopoly on power it had no intention of sharing it under a different electoral system. The fact that a very unpopular Labour government could still be returned to power with a sizable majority when 78% of those that could vote, chose either not to vote Labour, or not vote at all, should be a reminder to us that the electoral process does not always reflect the will of the people. It certainly looks like electoral reform is back on the Labour menu after a decade on the back burner.

My question is has it got anything to do with both their poll ratings AND the recent revelations of Lib Dem demands should there be a hung parliament at the next election as per leaked documents from their Parliamentary away-days?

Happily I think that the public trust Labour politicians as far as they can throw them and this stunt will be seen for exactly what it is.

Surely not?

Barney Hexham, we have also, of course, won plenty of elections under FPTP. We certainly wouldn't win any under PR.

Both the Tories and Labour would split under PR. Brown is playing a dangerous game.

Bluepatriot, AV isn't a form of PR. It delivers no more proportionate results than FPTP.

However, mainstream parties would have to try harder to pick up lower preference votes from minor party supporters.

Any change to the voting system has to be justifiable in its own right, rather than just a means of helping the Conservatives.

So, ensuring a greater equalisation of constituency sizes (eg more frequent boundary reviews) is legitimate, even though it gives a small advantage to the Conservatives. Reducing the number of Scottish and Welsh MPs isn't. Nor is pushing up the deposit to £5,000 just to disadvantage small parties. And that could backfire if the small parties then just concentrate their limited resources on fewer seats.

One change that would be both legitimate, and would likely favour the Conservatives is to restrict the franchise in Parliamentary elections to British citizens. Allowing Irish, and Commonwealth, citizens to vote at Parliamentary level is a complete anachronism.

So we probably have 2 years before Gordon is forced to go to the country. What we have to consider really carefully, is how much damage can GB do in those two years to our electoral system. Has he the time to get it through before 2010? If so, what plans will DC and the party have to make to cut them off at the pass?
I have a vision of Mugabe printing loads of extra ballot papers here. Gordo and Strawman would not stoop so low -- would they????

I made the comment a few days ago that I thought the Conservatives were pretty light weight where constitutional issues were concerned, whose ambition didn't seem to go beyond trying to make Labours mess work, and leaving Constitutional matters as Labour's own private play thing. Well it looks as if that strategy, of having no constitutional policy or agenda, is proving to be costly, for Labour finding no opposition, and the opposition making no running on this, they feel they can set the agenda and do anything they like. How different it would be if the Conservatives had led on this issue, like for an English Parliament, then Labour would be doing anything and everything to keep the Constitutional issue closed down, as it is they see no downside to opening up the issue.

Well such is the cost of having a policy free zone!

Iain, the reason this is a very dangerous game to play is that Labour's 'nuclear' weapon of PR to keep the Tories out can be countered by a Tory 'nuclear' option to give independence to Scotland and Wales to keep Labour out.

Personally I think the public will see this stunt as Labour trying to move the goalposts.

They'll also be asking 'why now?'

My initial reaction to this is that it is just a "Bank Holiday" news item to give some semblance of activity rather than a serious floating of a well considered idea.

What any Government should be doing is to reinstate the integrity of the existing electoral process, starting with eliminating ghost entries on the electoral register and working through to the security of any postal voting regime that is in place.

The local government election boundary review actually looks at future population trends within each ward as part of the process of ensuring that each ward is as comparable as possible within the recognisable geography. As a start, parliamentary boundaries should be determined using the same principle.

"How different it would be if the Conservatives had led on this issue, like for an English Parliament, then Labour would be doing anything and everything to keep the Constitutional issue closed down, as it is they see no downside to opening up the issue. "

For some weird reason, the Conservative in-crowd have decided there must be self denying ordinance on anything constitutional. Evidently it is to be Labour's game and thats it. Quite why this is is a matter of speculation as there is all to play for here .
If Blair had reckoned there was mileage for Labour in an English parliament it would be part of scenery by now and we would be living in a federal United Kingdom .

The Tories have been far too reticent about constitutional matters for far too long .

What are the chances now of Gordon Brown setting up a cabinet of all the talents to lure the Liberals? Offering them a couple of seats which would basically put the Liberals in the Labour camp as its politically difficult for a prime minister to sack 'guest' cabinet members from another party.

Labour are trying to jolt public opinion with various startling statements (no cigarettes in view, PR etc) in the hope that they can get their attention and claw back their position with succeeding messages. Its failing of course as the tide is turning and the senior figures of the Labour party has no credibility anymore. Conservatives have to ignore all this rubbish and press ahead with their own positive agenda for the future of Britain. Never has there been a clearer indication that Labour are in serious trouble.

No surprise that Labour might resort to this type of attempted vote rigging. But, something like compulsory voting is a load of nonsense and won't provide the results that Labour hope for. They think that because lots of poor people don't bother to vote, that if they make them vote, they will automatically vote Labour.
I doubt that is the case. If a Party holds a gun to the electorate's head and tells then they have to get down the polling booth, how likely is it that people will vote for the Party that is holding the gun, especially if the other main Party is offering not to make them vote in future? The people who don't vote, deliberately don't vote as they are disconnected from politics entirely or because they just don't like what's on offer. Any attempt by Labour, to enforce voting will backfire on them. Small protest parties and the likes of the BNP especially, would gain significantly as a result.
They also floated the possibility of lowering the voting age to 16, a couple of months ago when the polls were bad for them, but I noticed that idea has disappeared, but that could be something to do with the polls showing that over 50% of under 25s will vote Conservative!

Very much agree with Sean Fear's post earlier.We should be using our time to 'sell' the benefits of FPTP betweeen now and the next general election.We most certainly should not let any of our opponents get away with the claim that any form of proportional representation leads to either fairer or better government. It doesn't and it loses the accountability of MPs relationship with their constituents.
As a way of how not top organise an election we need look no further than the utter farce of the European elections. A bigger farce would be hard to imagine.

I agree with Margaret Hemmings points about electoral reform plus Saun Fear's point about excluding non British from voting.

Also there seems to me an overwhelming case for postal vote individual registration.

Presumably Brown sees this as a barrier to some of his lazy supporters voting.

As others have made the point - FPTP means that a voter makes a more direct connection with their MP than Give-A-Random-Second-AV-Preference-To-A-Retard-To-Save-Your-Karma.

Malcolm Dunn @ 19:50 hits the nail right on the head for the big picture.

'Richard' is however also correct for the small story - this is a silly Bank Holiday buzz to keep the media asleep and unfocussed.

I am even more cynical, this looks like payback for Nick Clegg's support for Gordon's EU Treaty. Clegg promised a "new type of politics" - bet you did not guess it would be this self serving!

If the plan is to have a box that people can tick and can post it in, to say that they abstain - then fine, if they expect people to vote for one party or another then people who don't want to vote will pick the candidates pledging to abolish compulsory voting and it will be an easy issue for other parties to campaign to abolish and may whoever introduces any such rule as compulsory voting burn in hell.

Constitutional changes on a huge scale are put forward without being in a manifesto by an unelected PM.
Does Gordon Brown think the public are warm enough toward him to give him the benefit of the doubt?
The heating must be turned up very high in the bunker.

Interesting. Labour is not interested in democracy. For them, it is all about power. Many of us are critical of John Major's premiership but he allowed prospective Labour Ministers access to senior civil servants for a long while prior to the 1997 election, because it was the right thing to do. One wonders whether Brown would ever, ever do the same.

On the subject of AV, I am (perhaps shouldn't be given its obvious benefits for Labour) surprised AV has been put out there as a LibDem wooer, because it isn't a proportional system and it doesn't favour the Liberals at all (as far as I can make out). Ironically, it gives a quite unfortunate degree of power to those voting for minority parties but who choose a major party as their second option. What this would do would be to effectively ensure that, in the event of Labour-Conservative 1-2 contests in marginals, the Liberal voters would have the casting vote with their number 2, which would invariably (I think) be Labour, although this is perhaps changing. It would potentially incentivise Liberal voters considering a tactical vote to vote Lib knowing that they would have their 'backup' vote up their sleeve. But essentially it would serve to entrench Labour's inherent electoral advantage.

If the Liberals are serious about PR then they want to see something actually proportional. In this respect, why not AMS? Lets push it now. It would keep the constituency link, which we all want to see. It would ensure that both we and the Liberals were actually represented fairly according to our actual votes (at least better than present). Our electoral system is broken in the eyes of the public - only the politico-classes fail to see this. Brown is already (one hopes) in the eyes of the public a ditherer.

How better to show this than to outflank him on his own reform, by proposing something fairer, more proportionate, more attractive to Liberals and more in line with our own interests.

Reform of the Electoral System is long overdue. Reform of the Electoral Process is needed at every level from Parish Council, through District and County Council, and Parliaments of both Europe and Westminster, right through to an elected House of Lords.

The HOL is the repository for the Patronised.
We do need an Upper House,but not one filled by Lords be they either Temporal or Spiritual.Neither represent the Electorate in any way.

Can someone explain to me how we have a system where a government is able to change the electoral system to benefit themselves, whilst having no need for a super majority of any kind.

Constitutional issues should need a 2/3s majority to be passed into law. That way, the system is safe from gerrymandering.

Changes to the system should go to a referendum, not be decided over beer and sandwiches in scotland.

This looks like gerrymandering. GB seems to be heading towards a position where the only way to get him out by the majority of people who do not want him in power will be to remove him by force. Rigging a system to stay in power is the road to civil war.

This won't happen before the next election, and if it is proposed it will be in the manifesto, so muse of this shrill talk is just plain silly. AV would deliver more proportionate results than FPTP, but it's not PR.

The Tories should fight their own corner more effectively with the boundary commission; they've been terrible at this in recent years. Combined with Labour's extraordinarily effect targetting of marginal seats, this has lead to the shift from fewer voters per Conservative seat to fewer voters per Labour seat.

AV would deliver more proportionate results than FPTP, but it's not PR.
PR is a fraud anyway, it makes it sound as if every vote counts, but it doesn't - there are inevitably a limited number of seats available and a certain percentage of votes needed to elect each seat.

Arguments can be had about whether STV or FPTP or AV is best and whether maybe multi member constituencies could help sorting out imbalances, but none of these systems and nor are list systems really purely PR - the Liberal Democrats are arguing for systems that will give them more seats, naturally they believe that their having more seats would be better for the country, all parties believe that they being in charge is the best thing for the country.

AV and STV punish unpopular parties, parties with minority support that are unpopular with other voters mostly end up winning fewer seats than they would under FPTP and those that are preferred to an unpopular party can frequently actually doing better under AV or STV - indeed surveys have indicated that AV could increase the chances of a Conservative majority because of second preferences of UKIP and Liberal Democrat voters.

It perhaps eases the mind of voters in terms of whether they should vote tactically or for the party of their choice in the sense that they have more opportunity to do both.

It may well help turnout as well, indeed AV and STV help the chances of smaller parties emerging from nowhere and sweeping to power - with an STV system the main political parties could change within a couple of elections, it would be quite easy to imagine UKIP going toe to toe with the Liberal Democrats or the Liberal Party for control of the country within 10 years.

The Tories should fight their own corner more effectively with the boundary commission; they've been terrible at this in recent years.
Boundary Reviews don't come all that often, in the reviews of the mid 1990s they were ignored because then Conservative Party Chairman Norman Fowler thought that the Boundary Review was a distraction and instead of sacking him, his bizarre belief on this was allowed to leave it to individual Conservative MPs and Conservative Local Authorities to negociate in their own local interests enabling Labour and the Liberal Democrats handling it at a national level to work for the creation of many nominally marginal seats that they could take.

In the more recent Boundary Review however the Conservative Party was organised nationally, and perhaps yielded several more nominal Conservative seats than would otherwise have been the case even if perhaps many Conservative MPs in safe seats and Conservative Local Authorities are a bit grumpy that perhaps they are not quite as shored up as they would be otherwise.

It would ensure that both we and the Liberals were actually represented fairly according to our actual votes (at least better than present).
Wasn't going to make a third post, but then noticed this.

Just felt I should point out that the Conservative vote on the British mainland was about a third of the vote, there were 628 mainland seats - an exact third of this equates to 209 or 210 seats which actually under the Boundary Review is roughly what it is expected would be the effects of alterations boundaries on numbers of seats.

The Conservative Party since 2001 has been on an upward trend and at coming elections are likely to reach or exceed the number of seats that would be expected compared to their proportion of the vote - a system more closely related to actual percentage votes thus could help Labour when eventually the Labour government goes into a terminal decline and then in opposition when it perhaps falls further and also reduce or even eliminate any Conservative majority. Just thought that I should mention that consideration for anyone who was deciding solely on party advantage over the next 20 years or so from 2009/10.

This is an issue of principle to me, so its simple, once in government we should:

1. Unpick were possible the mess Labour have made of this country's democratic system in their obvious attempt to rig it.

2. Develop a fully consistent consitution based on agreed principles and a commonly applied democratic approach (my preferances below). If that is not always in our interest so be it.

3. Establish written constitutional safeguards that would require referendum or other processes to change. This is hard to deliver, and I have always supported the concept of the unwritten consitution, but the damage done by Labour demands we try in my view.


And for the record my some of my views on the key points of 2 are:

Voting system - first past the post at all levels. PV systems seem to end up with the minority parties on the balance point as the tail wagging the dog.

Voter Turnout - fraud prevention above ease of voting and better low turn outs by voters who thought about it than large numbers who are forced to vote/give it no thought.

Voter Values - Consitutency voter sizes should be near equal, a London voter should be worth the same as a West Lothian voter.

Consituency makeup - like geographical groups with like where possible.

Levels of Government - We have too many and they are not consistenly organised. ie. National, Scot/Wel/Eng* , County/Region~, Unitary (+ Parish for rural).

* Have English only votes at Westminster,
~ County/Region should be tied to local elections/consituencies.

Any views?

Labour has been attampting to gerrymander the electoral system ever since day one in 1997 with their dippy ideas. We used to have Saturday voting for County Council elections. Made no difference to the turn-out. Compulsory voting? Australia get away with it, and it helps them keep track of their back-packers and au pairs. Can't think it does much for Aussie democracy.

The biggest disaster we have had since 1997 is Postal Votes on demand, which has driven a cart and four through the secrecy of the ballot as well as gerrymandered it. Sadly the Conservative party in and out of Parliament did little or nothing to keep the original postal voting system, which whilst not perfect, never had the corruption that the present system has generated. Why not? The whole idea had nothing to do with turn-out, it was all about voting fodder for the Labour party.

I really like some of the comments above, though much is a wee bit hysterical.

I don't believe Labour have any burning desire to muck about with FPTP - it looks too cynical and takes too long. Also, any result would be difficult to predict in terms of like-for-like impact and voter-cynical-about-motive impact. More likely, Brown is softening the party stance (or briefing the Guardian to make it appear so) in order to:

1. Woo the LibDem MPs in case they are needed in 2010;
2. Woo LibDem voters who may consider Labour if they buy the marketing that this is about fairness and equality; or
3. Entice LibDem MPs and supporters to encourage/force Clegg to reconsider his stance on powersharing. He's on a sticky wicket already, within his Party, and would be courted by the power, as well as the opportunity to show his Party that he'd won a major battle for them.

As usual, Labour's policy rethinks are about Labour, not Britain.

I have always supported the concept of the unwritten consitution, but the damage done by Labour demands we try in my view.

I agree. The irresponsible and corrupt approach of the Blair (and now Brown?) years to constitutional issues, show that we can no longer rely on the honour of our representatives.

As a Labour supporter, I too suspect this is all about party interest. Saying that, Labour did clearly promise a referendum on PR, why are you lot not crowing about that broken promise, like you were with the EU thing?

You lot talk of principles, but most of you just want to gerrymander the boundaries of a broken electoral system to favour yourselves, you have no interest in real democracy. How can any system be democratic that delivers absolute power to one party on 35% of the vote, just 22% of the electorate?

Bring on PR, unlike Gordon Brown, me and millions of others have always supported it. You lot are scared now, aren't you? Go on Brown, prove you are not a ditherer and make a bold decision to leave a legacy of real democracy in this country - by changing the electoral system and make sure you right-wing nuts cannot gain power against the majorities wishes ever again. It took us 18 years to get rid of you lot last time when 60% consistently voted against you, not again please, go on do it Brown - push the nuclear button - you have nothing to lose on these opinion polls.

Whichever voting system we end up with, can we have a few basic requirements.

No politician should be more than two years away from an election.

No individual can serve more than six years in an elected post.

Prime Ministers can only be changed by a general election.

That should concentrate their minds and do away with "career politicians"

It's perhaps time for a defence of FTPT. It's brutal, it's effective, it's efficient and (whether the losers like it or not) it delivers the political change that the 'body politic' wants or (sometimes) needs. The FPTP defeat of Churchill in 1945 was unfair personally to the greatest Briton of the 20th century. But Britain for all sorts of reasons wanted it. The same thing happened in 1964, much more happily in 1979 and, whether CH readers like it or not, in 1997. We must fervently hope it happens again in 2009 or 2010.

Look at it - round about 13 hours after the polls close the Queen's Private Secretary has a word with the Cabinet Secretary. The preparations are made - a few hours later there is, albeit skeletally, a new government. Meanwhile the former Prime Minister goes to pack - by courtesy in the car that was his but is no longer.

The Queen's government (a phrase that seems to embarrass us..............) has carried on almost uninterrupted.

To make all this work one needs of course to restore and defend the concept of the neutral and professional civil service, and to re-educate a minority of MPs on both sides in the constitutional principle that their duty is ultimately to the people they represent, whether or not they voted for them. And also to restore the knowledge that to walk half a mile to a draughty church hall, to make a cross with a blunt pencil, and to wave the ballot-paper at a weary official in a beige cardigan before putting it into a big black box - is to exercise a privilege for which people have died and suffered.

And this is all infinitely superior to playing with party lists, to devising ballot-papers only matched in complexity by a self-assessment tax return, and to enduring the weeks of voting, re-voting and coalition-negotiating that often accompany PR.

Sorry - too many subordinate clauses........

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