A manifesto for Electoral Reform

Overview

The purpose of my campaign for electoral reform is to redistribute fairness and widen representation. Increasing elector engagement and extending democracy will result in better government. Currently our government is highly polarised and divisive because it has very little national support, and the main parties are more concerned with their own electoral success, than doing the right thing. My view is based upon one fundamental belief, that more democracy produces better governmental results.

The way we select our political leaders is no longer fit for purpose and is a principal reason why societal and infrastructure changes that should be made are never addressed. Our system of government is weak, and will always be so in a multi-party state, because so few electors are represented in the legislature.

As an example, we have a critical meltdown of healthcare, partly because of funding mechanisms, but mainly because it is of a design that was revolutionary in the 1950’s yet is not fit for purpose now, and never will be, because the political will and ability to do what is necessary is not strong enough. How many people truly believe that it will be better in 5 years or 10 years than it is now?

The principal cause of this weakness is the lack of overall support that any government can achieve, and the direct cause of that is our out-of-date and unrepresentative voting system.

Voting Reform

I will campaign and work collectively with other like-minded politicians and organisations that are prepared to collaborate in attempting to change the way we elect our parliamentary representatives.

I also offer a practical alternative in a new and simple voting system called First Two Past the Post (F2PTP). I developed this to achieve a representative legislature in a simple, familiar and understandable way. If you want to find out more about it, please visit www.makevotescount.co.uk.

In 2017, this Conservative government was elected with just over 5 million effective votes out of over 32 million votes cast. That’s 16% of the people who voted, 11% of those who registered to vote and about 10% of the population. Such disparity would also be the same for a Labour government. The better governance that would ensue from a more representative parliament can only be brought about by a change to the voting system.

It is inconceivable that such a change would be a priority for any government, bearing in mind that all future governments are likely to be Labour or Conservative. It will only be forced by the will of the people, which means a further referendum. I will campaign for this along with other independents to force the government to concede another referendum but, this time, on a much better alternative than AV. To see more arguments supporting the ‘better government’ objective please visit www.makevotescount.vo.uk.

Voting System Principles

That voting power in the House of Commons should more closely reflect actual votes cast. This is different, more inclusive and fairer than former and other definitions which seek to match seats with votes. Seats, themselves, embody disproportionate influence, whereas it is that influence itself that must be more proportionally supported by votes.

  1. That voting system should be simple, and transparent in the way results are calculated or presented.
  2. That there should remain a direct representative link between an MP and a defined geographical area.

Voting entitlements

  1. In principle, voting in British general elections will be restricted to British Citizens and residents living in the UK, from countries who offer reciprocal voting rights for British citizens. Full details of eligibility will be determined by consultation.

Voting Mechanisms

Because of the clear potential for, and incidence of, electoral fraud, postal voting will be restricted to those with a valid reason for using this procedure. Valid reasons will be determined and published by the overarching supervisory body. The argument that, by making postal voting available on demand, more people would engage with elections is false. Therefore, why do it?

I will enthusiastically embrace electronic voting as and when the technology and systems architecture completely resolves the anonymity and security concerns. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s close. Electronic voting will add flexibility, ease, additional benefits and functionality in a totally secure and anonymous way.

Regulatory Environment

I will campaign to replace the Electoral Commission and Parliamentary Standards Authority with an independent body, with independent oversight, to be called, ‘The Political and Electoral Standards Commission’ (PESC) and to be charged with a revised remit. The right to vote is an inherent right of a British national and, as such, should be automatically afforded to every citizen, so validated, without the need for repeated registrations or confirmations.

The new electoral authority will assume overall responsibility for what will become a national register and not a series of local ones. The right to vote (or not) remains with the individual wherever they may live in the UK and /or abroad, so a digital mechanism will be created to enable individuals to modify their own personal circumstances, such as changes of address.

The new electoral supervisory body will also assume direct responsibility for the national tally of a general election, something which is not done in any formal way now.

I would modify the ‘Recall of MPs’ Act to include behaviour unbecoming to the office, in addition to the existing criteria of the imposition of a prison term or suspension from the House for 21 days.

I would introduce into electoral law, a new provision that would require any person elected under the auspices of a political party, to resign from their elected role should any circumstance arise, either by their doing, another’s, or misfortune, which leads to a position whereby they will not, or cannot, represent the views and electoral commitments of the party upon whose platform they were elected, and in a way that would normally be expected. In the case of resigning their party whip, or having the whip withdrawn, or actions that are tantamount to the same thing, resignation will be immediate. In the case of illness, unlawful detention, or any other act of misfortune, resignation may be delayed for a period not exceeding six months and determined by PESC, upon application from said political party. A by-election would then be held under normal rules and subject to the conventions applicable to forthcoming national elections.

Petition Led Debate

I would extend the effectiveness and outcomes of people-led petitions by placing such debates on the commons order paper and making the votes binding upon the government. We will consult widely to determine the level of support necessary to force a meaningful debate as opposed to the non-binding ones currently enacted.

Referendums

After the successful implementation of electronic voting, I would introduce into law the requirement for a national referendum on petitions that gain significant and widespread support. Once again, we will consult widely to determine the appropriate levels of support necessary. When such levels are reached, the referendums would take place prior to a binding parliamentary debate; the same type of debate which would be automatically triggered by a similar but less well supported petition.

The Second Chamber

I will campaign for a commission to reduce the number of peers eligible to partake in the upper house to approximately 400. The commission will be charged to report within six months of appointment and the results enacted within a year. It is not anticipated that those so dismissed would forfeit their title, nor is it anticipated that such future awards of non-participatory (as members of the upper chamber) peerages would change.

This will be a temporary constitution based upon the following criteria:

  1. Attendance and contribution
  2. Skills and experience
  3. Proportionality, in that the upper chamber must reflect party political support over the preceding years, including direct electoral support, MPs, MEPs and councillors.

I would ensure that, during this time, a wide consultation would ensue to establish the manner of population and size of a second and revising chamber fit for the future. I would seek the presentation of a white paper incorporating all the aspect of appointment and dismissal of the second chamber, but it is not envisaged that its principal functions would change materially.

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