Author Topic: UK Electoral Reform  (Read 4216 times)

Glaurung

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UK Electoral Reform
« on: May 08, 2015, 06:54:02 PM »
In light of the general election results, I think this is worth a thread of its own. There seems to be a lot of interest in electoral reform now - here are some things you can do to try to make it happen. Obviously this is for people in the UK only.

There are several online petitions in progress - I've found these in my own Facebook feed; there are probably more besides.
- Make Seats Match Votes (jointly run by the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy, see below)
- Change.org
- 38 Degrees
- Avaaz (already posted by Colossus)

The Government e-petitions site is not currently accepting petitions, due to the general election (ironic!), but it says it will be back soon, and I expect that one or more relevant petitions will be created.

Longer term, requiring more effort, but possibly having more effect, I would suggest:
1. Writing to your MP, and encouraging friends and family to do so;
2. Joining and becoming active in any or all of:
- the Liberal Democrats (electoral reform has been party policy for many years)
- the Electoral Reform Society
- Unlock Democracy (a campaign for wider constitutional change, but apparently with a particular interest in electoral reform)

Clockwork

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2015, 07:08:18 PM »
I also found there to be many more posts about the electoral system this time around. Perhaps this is what was needed to highlight the flaws with fptp system. Although hopefully the benefits aren't lost in the process.

Thanks for the credit :)
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Jubal

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2015, 12:34:43 AM »
I definitely think we should keep a constituency linked system, by and large. People need a local representative who can do things for them, which is a lot of an MP's job: the outgoing Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert, managed to deal with an incredible 32,000 pieces of local casework over five years, which is probably a major factor in his vote only falling by about 5% rather than 10-20 like for some other Lib Dems.

I do wonder about scots-style mixed member; a lot of people like it less than STV, but for pushing in the next few years MM has the advantage that it's not preferential, so it can be distanced from the failure that was the AV referendum.
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Eadfrith

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2015, 08:13:33 PM »
Those of you willing to receive mailings from the Greens, they also have a petition going at http://bitly.com/1F5uIg7
Blame Jubal....

Glaurung

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2015, 11:53:01 PM »
In related news, I have signed various petitions, and joined the Liberal Democrats.

Jubal

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2015, 11:44:41 PM »
What do people think, on a related topic, about the proposed shrinkage of the House of Commons? I'm all for a boundary review - we should just legislate to have them automatically IMO, keep it out of the hands of the politicians - but I don't actually feel cutting 50 MPs would be a good thing. Sure, it's less of them to pay, but that's really not much money considering it gives people much better access to local representation. The current seats also tend to fit nicely to local authority boundaries, which would no longer be the case. Having access to an MP can be really useful to people who need to deal with ministers on justice or migration issues; the more people per MP, the harder it will be for MPs to keep up with their huge loads of casework - they already end up with as many as six and a half thousand pieces a year to do.

Other countries have smaller main chambers, sure, but then other countries often have more of these affairs decentralised to states so the MP doesn't have that casework issue.

There's also the fact that the seat cut would make it harder for smaller parties to break into Westminster - as seats would straddle local authorities much more, the route of building up at a council level then making a breakthrough (as the Lib Dems have done in many cases, as the Greens did in Brighton, and as I suspect UKIP may eventually manage to do in Thanet) would be far tougher to go down, cementing the Tories more in place. Methinks they may have goals other than simply cutting the cost of politics here...
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Glaurung

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2015, 10:49:47 PM »
As I understand it, the "Make Seats Match Votes" petition (joint Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy) was handed in at 10 Downing Street today. It had nearly 500,000 signatures. That's a remarkable number for a petition that ran for less than 10 days - rather more than the total number of members of all the political parties combined, I think. I've no idea whether it will have any effect in practice, but it ought to demonstrate to all parties how much will there is to change the system.

EDIT: Here's a BBC article about it. I suspect it's about the only thing that UKIP, the LibDems and the Greens all agree on! Even the SNP want electoral reform, despite the fact that they did so well out of first-past-the-post.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 10:55:30 PM by Glaurung »

Clockwork

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2015, 02:02:14 PM »
For perspective, the one to get Clarkson back on top gear got a million in the same time.

SNP is bandwagon jumping.
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Pentagathus

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2015, 03:53:16 PM »
Not at all, a desire for reform was a big part of the independence campaign.

Glaurung

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2015, 06:46:24 PM »
For perspective, the one to get Clarkson back on top gear got a million in the same time.
The only response I can come up with is "bread and circuses". It's a reference to a quote from Juvenal, a Roman orator, railing at a Roman population that stopped caring about politics when it got fed and entertained. I should remember that human nature doesn't change.

I will qualify what I said before: 500,000 is a huge number for a political petition. It gives me some hope that the campaign for electoral reform is at last gaining some traction.

Clockwork

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2015, 07:01:00 PM »
I know the line. Yep, what I was getting at is that it's easy with the visibility of what's going on to assume that it's a huge issue to a lot of people. The actual amount of people giving a armadillo might not be all that high.

EDIT: Not that it has any bearing at all. Just, y'know easy to think everyone's up for change when I'd reckon there are a good number of people that don't feel the need for a change.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2015, 08:00:52 PM by Colossus »
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Jubal

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2015, 10:30:31 PM »
Yeah - polls and referenda will always be the only way to tell if a sample is balanced. But I think it's reasonable to have petitions nonetheless.

Look at it this way - if 500K people support it, and everyone else is indifferent, clearly there's no reason for it not to change. If 500K support it, deliver a petition, and then 1 million people are against, then they can petition right back when and if there are proposals for change on the table.
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Glaurung

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Re: UK Electoral Reform
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2015, 11:54:59 PM »
Colossus: I should say thanks for pointing out the size of the Jeremy Clarkson petition. It feels quite scary to me that so many more people care about that than about how their MPs and government are chosen, but at least it's a useful reality check. It also gives some idea of the scale of any campaign that would be needed to get a PR referendum passed.

However, I still feel that 500,000 is a very impressive number for a political petition that's run for that short a time. I very much hope it translates into a more effective long-term campaign for PR.