We complain & disagree quite a lot on this forum, perhaps we enjoy doing so. Once in a while an idea comes up that just might break through the default scepticism... IMO the ideas put forward in this article by Andreas Whittam Smith just might work...
1. Why would someone take 5 years out of their career on the remote chance of (a) gaining a majority and (b) being able to effect change. 2. I remember an inhabitant of Sheffield telling me "You could stick a Labour rosette on a pig and they'd still vote for it round here". There are too high a proportion of people who are not going to listen to your arguments. 3. Even if they do listen, there is another large proportion who will vote for whichever party is promising them the most cash, and we all know that an honest candidate can't compete with that.
The problem is not Parliament, it's the electorate; which has the Parliament it deserves. AWS's dinner-party set do not want to admit this.
Winners never quit, Quitters never win, but AWS never wins and never quits which makes him an idiot.
For a while, in classical Athens, they tried electing their government by lot. The argument was that be selecting a random 100 from the enfranchised voters, they would guarantee themselves at least average honesty and competence.
With due respect to the classical Athenians, the decisions they had to make were within the competencies of the average voter. I don't believe that applies now. I say that as someone who has deliberately moved to the only province with approximately the same electorate as classical Athens to see...and the Government haven't a clue, frankly.
e.g. The Finance Minister said last week that the pensions deficit is half a billion, but he expects a plan by the Fall ( 3 weeks away) and he's confident the stockmarket will recover. Which is odd, since Mark Carney and Ben Bernanke aren't confident at all, and I think they know a bit more about it than a guy who was an assistant manager at a credit union with 5,000 customers.
Last edited by Fox3WheresMyBanana; 5th Sep 2012 at 23:36.
Giving the chavs, who will vote for the pig with the rosette, equal voting rights to those who work for a living and tend to think a bit further than the tax on booze & fags, is always going to delay progress, so we could always try the multiple vote system advocated by Nevil Shute in 'Round the Bend'. (description from Wikipedia):
Perhaps the most interesting, and enduring, feature of the book is the "multiple vote", seen as a necessary reform of democracy. A person can have up to seven votes. Everyone gets a basic vote. Other votes can be earned for education (including a commission in the armed forces), earning one's living overseas for two years, raising two children to the age of 14 without divorcing, being an official of a Christian church, or having a high earned income. The seventh vote, which in the book is awarded to N****r* for his heroism, is only given at the Queen's discretion by Royal Charter. Multiple votes have been known in history. Until the late 1940s, the graduates of Oxford University and Cambridge University sent representatives to Parliament. The graduates of the National University of Ireland and of Trinity College are still represented in the upper house of Ireland's parliament. Part of the Reform Act 1885, as originally proposed, would have granted some Britons a second vote. That part of the Act was never enacted.
* Just in case the hero's name gets blocked on here...
Well that's a b*gg*r, I only get one, or possibly two, votes at most!
I'm all for exploring multiple voting, direct democracy, googleocracy, voting according to income tax paid (HKG does this in part), or whatever in theory, but most of these ideas are academic, and they rarely go beyond that.
Except of course direct democracy, which works well in Switzerland, although they complain of that system never being able to get anything done. Could it work in the UK? We'd have to leave the EU first (good), and we'd probably also have to adopt a policy of neutrality, as you couldn't make the case for going into Iraq based on a referendum (ok, still good, but what about our "responsibilities")?
As for single terms - the dual term US president is bad enough, if someone is doing a good job, the voters will want to keep them on, so this idea would be overturned almost as soon as it was enacted. And just how exactly do you hold someone to a pledge not to do something they will be inherently minded to do, because after five years in the system they will be behaving just like the others.
If more elected representatives had spent years as, say, brain surgeons, entrepreneurs or teachers, a calmer atmosphere might have prevailed.
Here in Ireland we inherited the British style parliamentary system. But there are differences. As it happens the most common profession among our MPs are teachers. That included the current Prime Minister. Also represented are Doctors and Lawyers, Accountants and the odd entrepreneur. Believe me the 'real world' experience of those sort of professions changes nothing once they get snouts into the trough. Not only that once they get a taste of power they like it very much and the chances of them only serving 'one term' is slim.
Also most Irish MPs constituencies are where they came from even if they've haven't lived there for years. The main effect of that is to induce parochialism. They're judged on what they did for the their town or county during their tenure. Not their country. All politics is local as they say. The problem is that it can become far too local.
Another problem I see with idea is where it stands. Is it right wing or left wing. Of course the answer given will be neither. But the middle ground never holds and there will be a battle as either the left or right wing attempt to gain supremacy. I think given the origins of this idea, it will be left of centre.
Like many apparently good ideas, the flaws will soon become apparent. Not only that, if it presents any form of threat to the established parties. They, like all political animals evolve quickly and adapt to the new situation. 'New Labour' came about as a recognition that old Labour wasn't what people wanted anymore. It was adapt or die.
The most likely fate of this idea is to get a few MPs elected. This will be declared to be a 'good start'. But eventually they will merge with the decimated Liberal Democrats and become....... The Independent Liberal Democrats!
I can remember an electoral system described in an SF novel when I was a kid The basis was simple: people were appointed to parliament by random lot. No election. However at the end of their elected term, they were all subject to a vote: a poll to see if the local electorate felt they had carried out the role compentently and honestly. Those who passed the vote were paid Those who failed the vote were shot.
I'm not convinced we need to go that far, but I believe that if there were retrospective votes on our politicians, to see whether or not they should be paid (and recieve expenses) for their time in office, then more than a few minds would be sharpened Just imagine if Blair and Brown had to justify themselves to the public to survive a vote at the end of their periods in office? You could take it further and add a vote as to whether the public felt they were guilty of treason or not....
Every day of the year, a different member of parliament would be named as the beneficiary and collecting tins set out in public all over the country. If you think he's doing a good job, contribute. If you think he's a waste of blood and organs, don't. Whatever is collected is his annual salary.
It would probably be worth disinfecting the collection tins before opening them in case any turds have been inserted.
What is the point in reading an article beyond the point that the writer declares "I have no idea what I am talking about on the subject at hand"? This guy did so when he boldly announced the old fallacy that the UK has no written constitution.
NZ has given us 2 votes, one for the guy you dislike least, viz. the man on the spot, and one for the "party" that you would like to be the next Gummint.
The idea being that it is a sort of proportional representation, but it doesn't work that well, the result is that in an almost tied electorate after the election, a party with a minority presence can hold the balance of power, and are woo'd by the two near winners to promise to support them, and thereby technically have a majority and scoop the pool, and get all the goodies of office.
After the first election under the new system it took three weeks to decide which major party a minority party would support.
Last election we were given the chance to support a change for one of about 4 different alternatives - but nobody understood any of them so the status quo continues, tho' there are vague promises to tweak it a bit.
As Churchill said, Democracy is the worst form of Government, but it's better than the alternatives.
He correctly points out that it's party machines that win elections, but fails to come up with any answer to that.
You can't win an election just on the freepost: it takes several leaflets through each letter box in the constituency, not just one, and it really does help to have had a few years doing a good job running the council.
It also takes money. You can ignore the expense limit for the election itself, as the electorate generally won't vote for someone who only pops up at election time, you've got to run your campaign for the entire five years. This costs several to many tens of thousands of pounds ... and that assumes that you do have the party machine to deliver all the leaflets for free. If you've got to pay postage or a deliver company, because you don't have the volunteer labour, that makes it vastly more expensive. And that's for the things that it's actually legal to pay for, like leaflet delivery - there are other things the party machine does which are essential to winning an election but which it's illegal to pay for.
So, no party machine, no win. Apart from the occasional very special case which is taken up by the national media, and the media's attention span is not able to cope with more than one of those in the country per election. And some of those famous special cases did actually have a borrowed party machine behind them on the quiet anyway ...
Its worth remebering that after Aristotle's in depth anaysis of the available political processes, his conclusion was that democracy was the worst of all systems and that aristocracy - here meaning the rule of those best fitted for the task by education, training and moral courage - was the preferred method.