miss_s_b: (Graph)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
While I welcome the fact that PR has suddenly become sexy again, I think people need to be more precise when they are talking about it. There are many forms of PR, and not all of them will have the desired effects. As Mark Reckons's famouse graph shows, the correlation is between safe seats and corruption. A system that doesn't remove safe seats is therefore in the interests of the two main parties, who will do anything to preserve the status quo, where they retain as much of the power as possible, and not in the interests of the electorate.

Resist the siren call of party list systems, which are used in the London Assembly, and simply embed the power of the parties. Nothing but STV in multi-member constituencies will do. STV abolishes safe seats, maintains the constituency link, and means that you can vote for one candidate from a party, but not another from the same party. Like constitutional monarchy, it's the worst system, apart from all the others.

And lest anyone think I am saying this out of mere partisanship: thanks to Chris Rennard, our party is actually best geared up to fighting FPTP elections, and would likely LOSE seats if STV came in. But as Liberals, we put principles over self interest. Yes, I know, it sounds unbelievable, doesn't it? But it's true.

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Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
>>There are many forms of PR, and not all of them will have the desired effects

MMm, there are many many systems of voting, and they all have a desried effect, depending on who is doing the desiring and what they prioritise.


Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Exactly. If you want to maintain the link between a single constituency and a representative then the Scottish system (FPTP plus top-up) is more effective.

Multi-member STV does sound intriguing to me though.

I really like the Scottish system

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] onlibertynow.blogspot.com
And was quite impressed that they not only managed to elect Socialists and Greens in 1999 and 2003, but 4 independents in 2003 (a rise in their number by 3 from the 1999 election)

The Greens also managed to hold in 2007

And of course lest we forget the monumental shift in power in 2007 with the SNP of plus 20 seats!

I dont think its fair to say the system discourages new parties, I think people recognise that they can vote for anyone they choose but choose to vote for one of the main parties, especially as in 2007 they wanted to kick the party in power.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The "constituency link" is not a big hurdle. Most of our current constituencies are not natural communities - making them larger could actually make more sense (e.g. a whole city or county as one constituency).

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
If you want to maintain the link between a single constituency and a representative

Why would you want to "maintain" it? The idea was forced on us without debate by Labour in 1948, before that a lot of MPs were in multi-member seats (and the overwhelming majority were before 1884). Single member seats works well when you have a two-party system; it's worth noting that there were 4 parties contesting 1950 nationally, the National Liberals did better than the Liberals, but all took the Conservative whip and so aren't really counted.

Multi-member constituencies strengthen the constituency link; Lord Trimble rails against them in the HoL regularly for that very reason.

(also? the "multi-member" bit when referring to STV is superflous. Some idiots use the term STV incorrectly when they mean AV (ie single seat preferential voting), but perpetuating bad terminology is bad practise).

Date: Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 08:10 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Why would you want to "maintain" it?

Me? I don't. But a fair chunk of people I've talked to about voting systems _do_.

Multi-member constituencies strengthen the constituency link
At the cost of a much bigger constituency - which some people don't like. They want a local MP, for local people.

This may not be important to you, but it's important to some people - and it's as valid a design decision as any other. Hence the original comment about "the desired effects" varying from person to person, and not being something you can assume are shared values.

Date: Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
A lot of people, including a lot of Conservatives, seem to think that the current link is perpetual and has always been there.

When you point out that constituencies used to be based on natural community boundaries like counties, cities and boroughs and that this worked well for 500ish years, they frequently rethink it.

I don't ever assume shared values on the whole thing—my 'desired effect' is a HoC that is broadly representative of the nation, witha mixture of types of politician, ranging from careerists through to change-of-career short termists and a few other types in between, it also needs more women, more minorities, more geeks, more younger people, and less over-educated people whose parents were upper-middle class.

I'd also like to always know one of my MPs at least got my vote, mutli member seats do that; I tend to point to Cornwall as the example, all the MPs are Lib Dems, but they don't get even half the vote last time I looked.

And trust me on this one, if you live in an area like Calder Valley, your MP is covering a big area already, you can only get a really local MP in larger cities. Plus, half of South Devon would like Adrian as their MP, most of them think he already is anyway.

The reason I spend time talking through the constituency link issue is to improve the way I answer the point, it is most peoples biggest objection (and was specifically written into the terms of reference for Jenkins hence the mess that was produces), so it's worth talkng through.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 09:45 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sassy_scot
That's true - we would stand to lose seats under STV, although when it was introduced in Scotland for local government, we just about stood still. It is a much better system though and gives maximum power to the voter, which is the important thing.

I would like to see in Scotland the wards have more councillors - at the moment, they are 3 or 4 member which means that you need to get either 20 or 25% to get in. I'd like to see it go down to 5 or 6 as the current system still puts too much power in the hands of the bigger parties.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
I think we'd lost some (many) in some areas, and gain a lot more in others, we would end up up overall, but it'd mean losing a fair number of decent MPs (we'd get 2 or 3 MPs in Cornwall out of the current clean sweep).

I think there'll be moves to merge the wards in Scotland at some point for the locals, but it's worth letting the system bed in a bit first.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sassy_scot
Certainly that facility is there, to make the wards 5 or 6 member, but Labour were adamantly opposed as they want to keep government only for the established parties, so I wouldn't hold my breath for change on that score - but we do have STV, it does work and that is very much a good thing.

Also worth noting that as a result of this, a much higher proportion of women are at high levels within Councils. aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and Edinburgh Councils all have a female, Lib Dem leader who has much more political power than a back bench MP. Our record on gender balance at parliamentary level (all except Europe) is appalling, but much better at Council level.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Precisely—it's something I keep trying to explain to Jo Chrispy-Strips, multi-member constituencies encourage a diverse range of candidates, single member constituencies encourage candidates that "look like politicians" (ie white men in suits).

I keep meaning to look purely at the top up MSPs to see if it applies there, but it's not something I've researched yet.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
burkesworks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] burkesworks
List systems should be resisted at all costs; all they do is provide a platform for party spooges that won't get chosen in any constituency worth its salt, likewise the "plus" element of AV+.

What, though, if Johnson offers a choice of regular AV or the status quo? Bear in mind multi-member STV is most unlikely to be on the table, sadly. AV is far from perfect but it's an improvement - assuming of course there is no "instant runoff" element as in the London mayoral elections, where Paddick picked up loads of second choices that were worth doodleysquat. As things stand there's a window between now and about this time next year to get things moving, because it's safe to assume any kind of PR system won't be on offer once Callmedave's in Number Ten.

Nothing proportional about AV

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 11:27 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I agree with burkesworks about party lists (though a very open list system like that in Finland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_list) is not all bad).

But we should beware of being fobbed off with AV. If AV produced more proportional results it would be by accident, not by design. In Australia the lower house is elected by AV and the result has been hegemony of two parties (whereas in the Senate there is a multiparty system because of STV). This article (http://politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2007/07/10/would-av-finish-off-the-tories/) from politicalbetting.com argues cogently that AV would worsen the existing anti-Conservative bias in the electoral system.

In practical terms, if STV is too radical a change for Westminster we could get agreement on introducing STV in local elections in England and Wales (as has already been done in Scotland). This could be combined with devolution of power to local authorities, which David Cameron suddenly seems to love. After a few years with STV at the local level people would probably warm to it and a referendum could be held for replacing FPTP at Westminster. Many councils have multi-seat wards already anyway so the boundary changes would often be not very great.

As I've been saying on Twitter...

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)


Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

I agree in principle with what you are saying but the pragmatist in me just wants to get people on board for PR first before we start going into the specific detail of what system.

I have expended on my thoughts here (http://markreckons.blogspot.com/2009/05/debating-different-forms-of-pr.html) if you are interested.


Mark Reckons.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well maybe I am being too sensitive about this but I just fear that this perhaps once in a political generation opportunity could degenerate into internecine squabbling between proponents of different forms of PR and ultimately we get stuck with FPTP for another 30 years.

I agree though about the having to defend against non-criticisms. I don't really know how to square this circle.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well I certainly don't want to be playing into the hands of opponents of PR.

Because I have spent the time getting to understand what the different electoral systems are, I am fully aware of how STV is the best (or least worst) system but whenever I have tried to explain it to non-politicos their eyes glaze over.

I think this is where my reticence comes from because I have seen first hand how hard it is to make this case compelling to people who aren't interested.

I will think about what you have said though and might blog about myself at some point.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
But "PR" is a pretty vague term, including a huge variety of types of voting system. I agree with Jennie that you have to be clearer and more specific from the outset in what you're arguing for, and why. And "fairness" isn't good enough. You could pray that in aid for all sorts of voting systems, including FPTP.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mindrobber.blogspot.com
IAWTP, and have posted here.

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