matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Politician)
Mat Bowles ([personal profile] matgb) wrote2009-05-19 06:19 pm

Tory calls for electoral reform—safe seats cause corruption and apathy

For a long, long time, I've been arguing with people that the only way we're going to get a decent electoral system (as opposed to PR-by-the-numbers that Labour will consider) is to persuade the Conservative party of the case. Today, this looks to be a little bit closer:
If there was only one restaurant or supermarket in the town where you lived, you would probably be overcharged and find the service less responsive. Why do we run our political system like that?

Reform must mean either open primary selections for sitting MPs, or multi-member constituencies. Or preferably both. It is time for the party that believes in competition and choice in business and commerce to apply those principles to politics.

The author is the Conservative MP for Harwich and Clacton
As analysis by Mark Thompson shows, there is already a strong link between seat safety and the MPs abusing the system. There is also a strong link between seat safety and voter turnout—that apathy meme that's going around about low turnout? It's mostly concentrated in seats that aren't going to change hands and the parties aren't even bothering campaigning in, perfectly rational behaviour. Have a look at this:

{other links}
Janet Street-Porter: I'd be a lousy MP – and so would Esther - Janet Street-Porter, Commentators - The Independent
Seize this moment to bring in real constitutional change | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian
MP expenses, political corruption and the European elections | Nosemonkey’s EUtopia
Majority vs Turnout—2005 election results show turnout lowest in safest seats

[identity profile] 2009-05-20 08:54 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not persuaded that candidates from the same party running against each other in public leads to less corruption. If candidates running against each other on the same ticket are not allowed to publicly criticise each other, they may make behind the scenes corrupt bargains.

I think the overall level of corruption depends on the culture, although I think the electoral system affects the pattern of corruption.

That said, I'm happy that the Tory man of the moment is talking about a more proportional electoral system, even though he doesn't use the words.
andrewducker: (Default)

[personal profile] andrewducker 2009-05-20 09:13 am (UTC)(link)
I've been semi-convinced by this. So long as there are differences in the candidates standing (i.e. one is in favour of ID cards, one isn't) then you can make an informed choice about which candidate you're in favour of. Over time this will influence the makeup of the party.

It's only if they're all clones that you don't have any influence.

[identity profile] 2009-05-20 09:35 am (UTC)(link)
The flipside is that if different candidates from the same party are allowed to run on their own policies, then what's the point of having a party conference making policy decisions? What's the point of having a national party manifesto?

I don't want British political parties to become US-style franchise operations.

I wonder how it works in Ireland?
andrewducker: (Default)

[personal profile] andrewducker 2009-05-20 09:43 am (UTC)(link)
All parties are made up of different factions, and individuals within those factions will have different opinions on different topics.

They aren't homogenous, and never have been.

[identity profile] 2009-05-20 09:02 am (UTC)(link)
I think there is now a definite mood for decent, wholescale electoral change.

I'm not sure what this would look like...