Reforming the electoral system

After winning three General Elections (the last of which was “historic” apparently) and thirteen years in office, with the polls predicting disaster for Gordon Brown and the Labour Party he leads Mr Brown has suddenly decided that the time has come to reform the electoral system. Presumably any electoral system that the party in office is unlikely to win is in need of reform.

Mr Brown wants to hold a referendum on an electoral system of a single transferable vote. By listing your preferences in order of preference an alternative vote does give you the opportunity to exercise your distaste for particular parties and politicians more specifically. I doubt that it is fairer than a system that provides for a single transferable vote or for some kind of proportional representation.

Of all the things that you need to reform in the electoral system the voting in a Parliamentary Election to the House of Commons is probably one of the last things that you would do. As they say on television, in no particular order, here is my list of more important reforms which would make Parliament and those who get there more democratic and more accountable:-

  1. Constituencies must be of roughly equal size.  The present system is particularly unfair to the English by giving Scotland more members of parliament proportionally than they deserve.
  2. There devolved parliament in Scotland, the assembly in Wales and the government in Northern Ireland should all have exactly the same powers over their constituencies and a separate English parliament should be created, so there is equality between the countries; if this is not done then the bodies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales should be abolished.
  3. It is unfair that Scottish MPs can vote in the House of Commons on purely English and Welsh measures while Scotland retains a separate right to vote on many exclusively Scottish measures.
  4. The House of Lords must be elected, not appointed or organised on the heredity principle. It is simply wrong that political placemen and women, those whom the electorate have rejected and good friends of the Government should be appointed to the House of Lords. Get rid of them and their titles.

Mr Brown can see that there is important work to be done in electoral reform but his offering is not important and ought to be rejected as a waste of Parliamentary time.