WE LOVE THE NATIONS OF EUROPE
Friday, 4 January 2019
Reform and Renewal - Voting
This is the section of the Power Inquiry that gives me the greatest problems. In the 2015 GE, UKIP came in third, with 3.89m votes, 12.6% of the votes cast, and won not a single seat. The injustice of this was felt not only by the millions who had voted for the party - including me - but many non-voters and supporters of other parties. It seemed an incredible outcome to those in other nations, but was just one of the anomalies of the First Past the Post system in the UK. However, the shock of that 2015 result catalysed Cameron into enabling the 2016 referendum - so UKIP actually won it for us, after all.
And it's not as if the voters of Britain didn't have a chance to change it; a referendum in 2011 proposed going over to an Alternative Vote system. It was defeated 68% to 32%. And coincidentally also has its own 'Remainer' movement in the Electoral Reform Society; the majority against AV in 2011 didn't dent their commitment one iota, and they campaign today as though the vote had never happened.
Recommendation 12 was about a change to a Single Transferable Vote system, and was overtaken by this poll seven years after Power was published.
Recommendation 13 would prevent national parties from parachuting candidates into constituencies to receive safe party-based votes - and thus would reduce central Party power and increase local power. Why wouldn't we support it?
Recommendation 15 is an early example of virtue-signalling. Yes, we can all agree that the Commons should better reflect our wider society; cohorts of chums from the top public schools, of men and women who have never had a real job other than politics in their lives, of self-selecting self-servers and narcissists who want to be MPs for what it can gain them are all shiny arses we would want reduced as far as possible from the Commons chamber. But more important than colour or gender (silly, superficial and irrelevant characteristics) we should encourage more men and women of virtue, humility, talent, altruism, passion and ability to enter parliament. These are the qualities most obviously lacking in the present make-up.
Recommendation 16 is about reducing voter age. Its effect would be to create a more credulous voter base, one less capable of balanced judgement and one more likely to be swayed by unicorn promises. Why would we want to do that?
Finally, since the report was published in 2004, we have made great strides in clearing-up a corrupt and third-world standard voter registry. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky estimated that before the changes, there were 3m on the electoral rolls who should not have been there and 3m missing who should have been. IVR and stricter controls for postal voter identity, together with voter ID at elections, should be very effective in restoring the probity of the national electoral register to first-world standards. We should do nothing that would degrade the probity of the register.
Recommendation 12: A responsive electoral system should be introduced for elections to the House of Commons, House of Lords and local councils in England and Wales.
Recommendation 13: The closed list system to have no place in modern elections.
Recommendation 14: The system whereby candidates have to pay a deposit which is lost if their votes fall below a certain threshold should be replaced with a system where the candidate has to
collect the signatures of a set number of supporters in order to appear on the ballot paper.
Recommendation 15: The Electoral Commission should take a more active role in promoting candidacy so that more women, people from black and minority ethnic communities, people on
lower incomes, young people and independents are encouraged to stand.
Recommendation 16: Voting and candidacy age should be reduced to sixteen (with the exception of candidacy for the House of Lords).
Recommendation 17: The introduction of automatic, individual voter registration at age sixteen. This can be done in tandem with the allocation of National Insurance numbers.
Recommendation 18: The citizenship curriculum should be shorter, more practical and result in a qualification.