Rebecca Replies…

Dear Julian,

Thank you for kicking this off, and thank you to Ted for giving us this platform. 

I agree that the expenses scandal did untold damage to public confidence in politics. I think the solution was making MPs with questionable claims pay them back and then moving to a wholly transparent system of pay and conditions. I don’t see how changes to the voting system will do anything to improve public confidence and it could even make matters worse.

Members of Parliament have two distinct roles. First, implementing national policy and holding the Government to account. The second is as the representative of their constituency at Westminster, a role the public really value. Moving to any system of proportional representation as the Government proposes, damages the links between MPs and their constituents, making the voters less powerful and the Party bosses more so.

The AV system you personally advocate is an odd compromise by keeping some MPs constituency-based and others elected on a “Regional List”.  It’s not actually properly proportional but it creates two different types of MP. 

The real issue is weak government.  PR leads to more small single issue parties each fighting to get their say.  I can’t see how all the resulting horse-trading behind closed doors to get a deal will bring politicians’ into higher esteem. 

Like you, I support a modernised House of Lords with a majority of elected members, but also maintaining some appointed members. I do not think we should lose those peers with the expertise and stature – many of them “Cross-benchers” – of people like ex-M15 Head, Eliza Manningham-Buller or some of our ex military chiefs, just because they were not willing to turn their lives upside down to run for election like us.

Better than either of the plans however are David Cameron’s plans to reduce the cost of Government altogether, by reducing the number of MPs, Ministers and Ministerial salaries.  I’d also like to see the huge number of powers currently exercised by expensive and unaccountable quangos transferred to local communities and MPs.

I know you’ve advocated electoral reform for many years, but I think the public may feel cynical about a party that’s become interested in changing the voting system after 13 years in power, just when they look like they could lose.

Proposing a referendum on the voting system when it’s not a public priority smacks of cynicism – especially when the Government didn’t stick to their promise of a referendum on the important issue of whether or not the UK should sign up to the Lisbon Treaty.

I don’t advocate lowering the voting age to 16. Many 16 year olds are probably quite capable of exercising this right sensibly, but there has to be a starting age at some point and I think 18 is about right. When I was 16 I certainly considered myself old enough to make decisions that affected me, but I am not so sure I was ready to make decisions that affected others, which is what voting is. Currently, too few in the 18 to 24 age group vote and it would be better to try to raise those numbers.

Overall, I think we can agree that it is time to clean up Parliament and make Government more efficient and accountable and this election gives us a chance for a fresh start. As always though, there are ranging views on how best to achieve it. I am grateful that we can have this exchange in the open and welcome further such correspondence.



… (Julian Ware-Lane, 18/03/2010) – Julian Says…

6 Responses

  1. Rebecca, do you understand AV and how it works???

    You are quite simply wrong, there is no Party List in AV, it is a preferential system that still maintains a constituency link with every MP.

    I am actually opposed to it, but I would appreciate future MPs to actually understand the systems they will be voting on.

    Why should 16 year olds pay tax, join the army, be punished by criminal law, rent houses and have children; yet not vote for the people that make all these things possible?

  2. Proportional representation does not create weak Government. It creates a strong Opposition. There is a world of difference.

    The reality is that the sacred constituency link is a farce. Party elites already have all the power. Almost all of us vote on the basis of which party we support, or which leader. Many voters do not even know who is their MP, or which constituency they live in.

    The problem is that political parties are out of control because they are not accountable to voters, because we do not have a fair and effective voting system.

  3. Rebecca unfortunately while you follow the Scot Mc Cameron who has more ‘Scottish blood than English in his veins’ His own words then you wont be acceptable to English patriots who seek our own parliament and a withdrawal from the EU. We need an MP who is accessible and will represent the electorate, not somebody that follows party doctrine first. We have had enough of ‘cast Iron’ promises from Mc Cameron already being broken and he isn’t even elected yet. The Tidal pool will remain as it is a local requirement and your involvement will have no significant bearing on the issue

  4. Out of curiosity where do you stand on a referendum on our extraction from the EU and reinstating an English parliament? Would you also condone Sharia law courts to be run from Mosques in Castlepoint?


  5. “We need an MP who is accessible and will represent the electorate, not somebody that follows party doctrine first. ”

    There is no such creature, and will not be. Political parties and party elites hold all the power, and must be held accountable to voters through a fair and effective, i.e. proportional, voting system.

  6. Good to see the anti English sentiment of the administration on this blog site shining through. An old decrepit Marxist who cant understand his Socialist values are dead. Pretending to be a journalist ( Plagiarism rules the day in most of his posts) but of no real significance to anyone but a few bloggers who use this under rated forum .


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