Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Yay for the Lords

Once again the House of Lords has taken a stand for democracy and once again the Government is whining that it can't get its way. Today the Lords passed amendments to the Government of Wales Bill, one of the most significant being the proposed ban on dual candidatures.

For those fortunate not to have the Greater London Assembly, the National Assembly for Wales or the Scottish Parliament, they are elected by the Additional Member System, under which some members are elected in individual constituencies and then additional members are added from a "top-up" list based on parties' shares of the vote.

Currently it is possible for people to stand both in a constituency and on the party list for a region. And this frankly makes the most sense - the list is supposed to make up the party balance that the constituency element supposedly distorts. But the Labour party, who have very few list members, want to ban dual candidatures for naked self-interest.

Labour have come out with loads of whines about people "having two bites at the democratic cherry" and other such rubbish, but whatever happened to the right of the voters to decide? If they genuinely believed it to be wrong that this can arise, they would have included the provision in the original legislation.

The real reason is that Labour believes such a change will make it harder for other parties to win seats by forcing the best known members of parties onto the lists. And with parties in both Scotland and Wales having already selected both constituency and list candidates, such a law change will disrupt their plans.

What's the worst thing is that a proposed change to the electoral system is being forced through by a single party with no attempt at a consensus. The rules of the contest should be broadly agreed all round, not imposed by one single party's interests.

So what can we call this attempt to deform the voting system? A "Rhodrimander"? A "Tonymander"? A "Cowardmander"? My favourite is a "Petermander".

1 comment:

Richard Johnson said...

I'm not a big fan of giving the Welsh Assembly more power. I would prefer that such duties remained more centralized in the government.


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