The British electoral system is broken so why not change it?

The country is on its knees, in the mire. Unless you’re a top earner or part of a wealthy family you’ll probably find it hard to disagree with this. The political parties of recent terms have lead to this. The political system and the electoral process that puts them in power is clearly broken and for the good of the country needs to change. Public services, once owned by the people are now private companies, providing those services for the profit of companies and their owners and shareholders. Those not already privatised are going through the process and it is likely that those that aren’t are in line for it at some point. See Noam Chomsky on privatisation on YouTube for more information and to give you an idea as to which may be in line for it.

Politicians have been proven to have stolen from the public purse through fraudulent expenses claims and other forms of corruption and vested interests are evident. Look at the related jobs that MPs often walk straight into after leaving their political roles for examples. Most recently George Osborne at Blackrock. They work as lobbyists for big business such as Priti Patel and British American tobacco. The examples are abundant if you’re willing to do a little digging. Then we have the blatant manipulation by the mainstream media, abbreviated to MSM. A huge percentage of the British press and media is owned by a few billionaires who, it is alleged, pay no tax or very little tax by off-shoring their finances. Their publications sway public opinion towards the party who will best suit their corporate and capitalist needs. A bit of mutual back scratching, if you will.

If you are capable of independent, critical thinking and have any awareness of the world around you then you’ll have learned nothing new, so far, from this blog posting. There are many other systems and processes involved that determine how the people are represented by the governing party. These involve constituences, which are basically regions that have a parliamentary seat. These seats are sat on by a member of parliament, MP for short. These MPs are supposed to represent the people in their constituency. As you’ll know if you look on any online estate agent’s site, some constituencies are better off, or more affluent than others. This is like a class map of the country. So, in theory, different constituencies are populated by people of different classes, usually measured and dictated by their income and background. As areas change shape and size, clever politicians like to make the constituencies that they represent change with them. They change the boundaries of the constituencies, to suit. An area that was once lower class is slowly bought up by richer people, because it is cheaper that way. So the area of a lower class of people is now owned by a higher class of people. It all skews over time. A long time, as in decades, so it isn’t always apparent that it is happening.

Based on these constituencies, the governing party is decided on a system called First Past The Post. It essentially boils down to which party wins the most votes in the constituencies, aligning to how many seats are held by each party in the House of Commons part of parliament.

This skewing is also evident with the political parties and voters themselves. Traditionally, the Labour party is meant to represent the lower and working classes. The Conservatives usually the business owners and upper classes. The Liberal Democrats are still a relatively young party but sit somewhere in the middle and in my view are simply opportunists who will sit where ever they think they will get votes. This is consistent with political leanings, ie left-wing, right-wing and all the convoluted variants in between. So Labour should be left-wing and for the working classes down, Conservatives right-wing and for the business owners up and so on. Traditionally, the Conservatives were seen as low tax, low spending on public services. This has only recently blown up in their faces when they broke a key election mandate pledge in raising National Insurance for a part of their voting base, the self-employed. Labour has traditionally been seen as a higher taxation party, but also a better public services spender. You can probably make your own correlation between wealth, constituencies and voting preferences, from what I’ve so far described. It is a very simplified and possibly naive description, but it is my interpretation and my blog, so please bear with me.

Now, supporters of the Conservative party say you always know where you stand with them. This is true, they are always right wing. The problem in recent decades is that the same can not be said of Labour. They have not stayed true to their left wing roots. Because of the influence of mainstream media and I sadly suspect for their own vested interests, Labour have swung to the right wing, in order to win elections. The have been dubbed Tory-lite. As a result of this, all British politics has swung away from serving the people, as in left wing and is now set up to serve the right wing. Big business and the very wealthy are the right wing, dubbed The Establishment.

Okay, again this is a simplified and possibly naive interpretation. Having said all of the above as a background to the main point of this post, I will now get on to the actual main subject of the post itself. A suggestion for how to stop this bias and offer a true choice, a truly democratic way for the country to be governed. It will return power to the sixty-odd million people that make up the populace.

My proposal for an electoral reform solution is really quite simple and it is as follows.

1. Use proportional representation (PR) instead of first past the post (FPTP). PR is essentially 1 person = 1 vote for their preferred political party.  This ensures that the governing party is chosen by the true majority of voters. Why should a constituency with a few hundred inhabitants carry as much weight as one with several thousand inhabitants, in political terms?

2. Instead of people being registered to vote, which requires a physical postal address, use something that all adults already have;  their National Insurance (NI) number. This would help to ensure that homeless people and those who may otherwise find it difficult to be registered on the electoral register still have a say.

3. At the polling booth, the political parties are not shown, only their mandates, or election pledges, if you prefer. This is known as blind policy based voting and will rid elections of party loyalties and ensure that the vote is given according to the voters’ needs and wishes. It also has the advantage of removing the need for expensive election campaigns.

4. If an elected governing party breaks its mandate then another general election is called. This holds the party accountable for its pledges and promises. In certain circumstances changes could be allowed by referendum.

Those are the specifics for the General Election voting process, now or some ideas about how the parliament would then operate.

Each constituency or region/area then has a party agnostic parliamentary representative. These can be sacked, if they fail to report to parliament as the people require them to.  This reporting would be done with transparency, broadcast to the public to ensure that it is actually happening.

I’m sure there is much more to consider but this, I feel, would be a good start. It would strip away much of the complexity and cost of politics, leaving transparency and accountability. I follow the K.I.S.S. philosophy. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Having this as a basis for the electoral and governance system would make for true democracy, in my humble opinion. The parliamentary make-up may well need some tweaking but I think the actual election process is spot on. I would suspect any party that wouldn’t agree to this kind of electoral reform.

There is a petition on the UK Parliament’s public petitions website calling for parliamentary debate on the introduction of Proportional Representation. It expires on 6th April 2017, so if you would like to back it, sign it before then. PR is, by definition, the most democratic form of voting as it shows the will of the majority of people.

What do you think?

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