Monday, 10 May 2010


The bottom line is that all votes should be equal - the problem is that they are not. The corrupt nineteenth century voting system is a total anachronism, which is no longer fit for purpose. The number of votes accumulated to elect a representative to the Mother of Parliaments (for want of a better phrase) is as follows:

  • Labour MP- 33,350 votes
  • Tory MP- 34,989 votes
  • Plaid MP- 55,131 votes
  • SNP MP- 81,898 votes
  • Lib Dem MP -119,788 votes

It gets worse, not only are votes not equal but the system favours the larger parties. In Wales:

  • Labour got 36.2% of vote and 65% of seats
  • Conservatives got 26.1% of vote and 20% of seats
  • Lib Dems got 20.1% of vote and 7.5% of seats
  • Plaid got 11.3% of vote and 7.5% of seats

While this questionable result might suit Peter Hain (a great defender of 'our democracy' as long as it serves the Labour Party's interests rather than the peoples interests), it should not suit the rest of us. If we are serious about having a working representative democracy where all votes have equal value then we need Single Transferable Vote (STV), with multi member constituencies.

I personally would add one extra refinement, by having open rather than closed lists so that the public can vote for the representatives of the party it prefers. This will retain the link with geographical constituencies and ensure that our representatives have to work to earn their re-election - no more safe seats and easy rides.  Additionally this would put more power in the hands of the electorate by giving then the opportunity to purge the system of the slackers and party hacks and still vote for the party of their choice. 

I would go a little further and make sure that Westminster parliament's to have fixed terms 4 years. This is the controversial bit, I would include a limit to the number of consecutive terms that elected members can serve, say no more than 3 terms ( or 12 years), if they want to serve a fourth, go away and get a real job for 4 years and try your luck again. If we are serious about our democracy then this should also apply to Local councils at county and community level as well.

Elective public service, for that's what is is should not be a job for life and neither should it be a path for personal enrichment, the same rules that apply to senior civil servants should be adapted to prevent former politicians from cashing acquire knowledge for tidy jobs immediately after their term in office ends. 


  1. I agree with the thrust of what you're saying, Jonathan. But I wonder about your "extra refinement". If I understand you correctly, what you're describing only really applies to a list system ... it makes a closed list (with candidates ranked in order by the party, and in which a voter can only vote for the party rather than an individual candidate) into a list where the voter can change that order, i.e. an open list.

    STV doesn't need that refinement, because it already allows voters to rank individual candidates, even from the same party, in the order they prefer.

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  3. STV hands power back to the people. It enables people to make a choice between candidates of a party and between candidates of several parties. Its the most democratic. It retains a constituency link (if somewhat bigger than currently - but then Cardiff has more of an identity than does Cardiff West or North - so I don't see that as a problem).

  4. The other positive is that all elected members will need to work hard on their constituents behalf - as there will be no safe seats, as the lazy or crazy ones get purged by the electorate.