TAG | Parliament
In an amazing poll for the Sun from YouGov, the Liberal Democrats are in second place just 3% behind the Tories. Labour have been pushed back into 3rd place. The full results are Conservative 33%, Liberal Democrats 30% and Labour 28%.
Under our completely broken political system this could well lead to Labour having the most seats in parliament, despite having the fewest votes of the main three parties. The prediction from uniform swing calculators would be the Labour Party would have 275 seats, Conservatives 245 and the Liberal Democrats 99.
Is Labour worried and ashamed to drop back into 3rd place in the polls? Not in the slightest:
It is little wonder that after 13 years in government, the Labour Party has not enacted any meaningful political reform. Labour and the Tories are completely happy with the way things are. A system that denies millions of voters across the country a real voice in the way their country is run. A system that means that tens of thousands of voters across Angus will be denied genuine democracy.
John Prescott and the Labour Party should be ashamed of themselves for celebrating our broken political system.
This is why we must have real change in this elections. This is why we cannot let Labour and Conservative just pass the baton back and forth so they can continue to deny us genuine democracy and carry on their decades of corruption.
The Liberal Democrats would cap donations and limit spending by political parties, introduce independent audits of expenses and set out exactly what MPs can and cannot do. Voters would have the right to sack corrupt MPs.
We would introduce a fairer, proportional voting system so your voice is heard. Mike Weir was elected with just 1 out of 5 of those eligible, voting for him. Surely Angus deserves an MP with a better mandate than that. The Liberal Democrats are the only party who would introduce a system that supports that.
I was very disappointed to see the ugly public spat over donations and expenses, over the last two weeks, between Mike Weir MP and Angus Tory candidate Alberto Costa. Angus residents deserve better from their prospective representatives. Now that their arguments have spilled over into the national press, including the BBC News website, is it not high time that Angus candidates agree how we can restore trust in our democracy?
With the recent lobbying scandal, I was particularly surprised to find that Mike Weir MP, voted in 2006 against a Lib Dem motion for limits and full disclosure for corporate lobbying. I would ask that he explain his stance on that motion, supported by the Conservatives, but defeated by Labour and SNP MPs.
The Tories have been talking about a “Broken Britain”, but it is clear to me that it is our politics that is broken. It is not enough to simply tinker with existing system, but we need a radical reform of our political institutions to ensure that the long succession of scandals under both Labour and the Tories, cannot be repeated.
Will the other candidates back proposals for a fairer political system, including the right of Angus residents to recall their MP, to cap donations to political parties, independent auditing of expenses and limits on spending by political parties? Crucially will they back a written constitution that clearly sets out the role and powers of MPs, ministers, judges, the Head of State, parliament and national assemblies?
On a separate issue, will the candidates back proposals for a fairer, proportional voting system, as used in Angus Council elections? Mike Weir was elected as MP for Angus, with just over 1 out of 5 of those eligible actually voting for him and very nearly 2/3rds of actual voters, voting against him. Surely the Angus MP needs to have a better mandate than that?
I am fully backing all of these proposals.
I would ask for full backing from Mike Weir MP, Kevin Hutchens and Alberto Costa. Angus residents can that way be assured, that whether it is myself or one of the other candidates that is elected at the forthcoming election, they will be voting for genuine, open, fairer political reform.
By ignoring reform of the House of Lords, George Brown’s recent announcement of a referendum on replacing the first past the post system for the House of Commons does not go far enough.
Whilst I personally believe that there should continue to be a strong link between constituencies and their MP, voters need to be appropriately represented in parliament.
Brown’s proposed Alternative Vote has some strong merits. In Angus, Mike Weir MP was elected with only 33.7% of the vote, so twice as many voters voted against him than for him. Alternative Vote ensures that MPs will have the backing of a majority of their constituency. It will also end tactical voting, by allowing people to vote for the candidate they really want, and not have to worry about blocking a candidate they do not want.
However, this still means that many Angus residents will be represented by someone who was not their first choice. This is the reason that the Liberal Democrats support a Single Transferable Vote in multi member constituencies. To translate that jargon into English, the Lib Dems propose have larger constituencies where there are several MPs and they are voted for in a fully proportional way. STV, like AV means that you vote for the candidates in order of preference.
In Angus, the Council elections already work this way. For parties which have at least some minimum level of support, this means that local people will have at least one representative from the party they voted for. So, for example, in Kirriemuir & Dean, there are 3 councillors, one Liberal Democrat, Alison Andrews and one SNP and one Conservative. This way local people can be comfortable when raising and issue with their local councillor, that they can speak to someone who was their first choice to represent them.
What then of a strong link between an MP and their constituencies? On the one hand, multi member constituencies will still have that link, only the constituency will be larger.
However I personally feel that with a combination of reforming the House of Lords and the House of Commons in a co-ordinated, joined up manner, we can get the best of both worlds. Between the two Houses we can have both single constituency MPs elected by AV, multi member constituencies voted by STV and if necessary, some national or at least regional proportionality.
That is why the House of Lords must be reformed along with the House of Commons. It is incredible that after 13 years and 3 Labour Governments we still have an unelected House of Lords. Few would have believed that was possible back in 1997.
I would also strongly support standardisation of the voting method for UK, Scottish, European and Local elections, so that in all elections, you vote for candidates by order of preference. This will avoid the considerable confusion we currently have of separate voting systems for different elections, sometimes held on the same day. If some proportional element is required, using the top up system used in the Scottish Parliament will be ideal. Personally I am not a fan of voting for a party and feel that voters should always be given the opportunity to vote for an individual to represent them.