Thursday 25 February 2016

Bound But Ungagged

The proposed new constituency boundaries are so ridiculous that there would almost certainly be enough Conservative votes to prevent the Government’s crude gerrymander.

Labour needs to press that advantage by proposing a reduction to 500 equally sized constituencies, accompanied by 180 additional members.

Each of the 11 areas of Great Britain that were used for European Elections would elect 15 additional members: three Labour, three Conservative, three Liberal Democrat, three from other parties that would not then be permitted to contest constituency seats, and three Independents.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats would each submit their locally determined shortlists of five to the electorate at large.

Each of us would vote for one candidate on each list, and the three highest-scoring candidates on each list would be elected. Any casual vacancy would be filled by the next candidate on the list.

Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat voices would thus be heard from all parts of Great Britain, as would the diversity within those parties.

The Liberal Democrats would not then be permitted to contest constituency seats, their “major minor party” role as the repository of certain perennial traditions within the polity having been duly recognised by the guarantee of 33 MPs.

For the fourth category, the simple party list system would be employed.

For the fifth, each of us would vote for one Independent candidate who had met a basic nomination requirement, and the highest-scoring three would be elected, with casual vacancies filled as for Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat additional members.

In Northern Ireland, the places of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats might be taken by the SDLP, the UUP and the Alliance Party, none of which would then contest constituencies.

Three is as many MPs as the SDLP has at present, 50 per cent more than the UUP has, and 300 per cent more than the Alliance Party has.

Otherwise, the system would be as in Great Britain. There is an argument to be made that it ought to be so across the board.

The Green Parties in Scotland and Northern Ireland are distinct, but Greens in general could hope for 12 seats rather than one, and UKIP could hope for at least 11.

The SNP, the DUP and Sinn Féin would not forego possibly or certainly larger representation, and Plaid Cymru probably would not do so, making room for a broader range of perspectives.

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