Do we need a new voting system?

February 23, 2010

I recently received a comment from a reader that proposes a new voting system to help remove the conflict between voting for an individual or a party.

I thought it made some really interesting points, so I have copied it in full and posted it here. I’d be interested to hear what people’s views are on this.

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Can I recommend a system of voting which would deliver PR, has the simplicity of FPTP, maintains the single member constituency, would make it much easier for Independent Candidates to get elected and doesn’t require a huge change from the existing voting system?

Direct Party and Representative Voting

Despite the recent vote in the House of Commons and consequential public debate, the chances of a move to Proportional Representation for Westminster elections are remote. Those in favour of PR cannot build a coalition. The different forms of PR vary in their ability to deliver PR, and are often complex and difficult to understand.
PR also challenges the simplicity of the single member constituency.

An underlying problem with the existing system is that the voter is faced with the dilemma of voting for the party or for the candidate. This works very heavily against independent candidates. These voting issues should be separated as follows.

To meet the demand for political renewal, we need

1 One vote for a party to form the government.

2 One vote for the Constituency MP. This could be by the FPTP system.

And all on one ballot paper – that is the only change we need in the public voting system.

A further change would be needed in Parliament where one MP one vote is ditched, and a fractional voting system introduced. The elected Government’s strength in Parliament would be determined by the first vote. In parliament each MP would exercise a fractional vote. If a party got 40% support in the ‘Government’ vote but 50% of the MPs, each of their MPs would have a vote value 0.8 Independents would have a vote value of one. Non government bills (Free Votes) could be determined by one vote per MP.

Swipe card voting should make it foolproof and simple.

The Government would then have very precise proportional support, not in MPs but in votes. Why should it have more or less?

This system, Direct Party and Representative Voting (DPR), would have the key advantages of a PR system and single member constituencies.

• No longer would people be disenfranchised. Every vote would count.
• It would be easy to vote, and easy to count, and the outcomes would be quick and easy to understand.
• There need no longer be a conflict between voting for an individual or a party. You could vote for your party but not necessarily for the particular local representative.
• Yes, it would be difficult for new parties to get started – but arguably less so than at present
• It would make it easier for exceptional individuals or independents to get elected.

This system would not satisfy the ‘Strong Government’ lobby – those who want the system to throw up a big majority for the ‘winning’ party regardless of their actual democratic support. But at least the battle lines and arguments would be simplified.

Not only would this system lead to more independent MPs, it would give all MPs a measure of independence since they will have been elected as individuals rather than just party representatives.

This system, DPR, would make it much easier for Independent Candidates to get elected, would deliver PR, has the simplicity of FPTP, maintains the single member constituency, and doesn’t require a huge change from the existing voting system.

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Very interesting. Do you agree?

Workshop for Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

January 6, 2010

The Independent Network is running a workshop for anyone interested in standing as an independent parliamentary candidate. It’s on January 23rd in Birmingham and you can find out more information here on the Facebook page.

Sounds interesting and although I don’t want to stand myself I’m going to try and go along. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Terry Waite’s letter to independent candidates

January 6, 2010

On it’s website the Independent Network has got a letter from Terry Waite which he calls “A New Year Letter to Independent Candidates from Terry Waite”. It’s not the rousing, motivational piece that I was hoping for and half expecting, but it’s still well worth a read here.

A couple of phrases stuck out to me:

“I am an ordinary voting member of the public and as such am gravely concerned about the political health of our country.”

That’s obviously not quite true as Terry Waite is a well known public figure and one who has previously suggested that he may stand as an independent candidate and it is this public recognition that the Independent Network wants to use to support the movement for independent candidates. However, beyond that Terry Waite doesn’t have any political influence and I think his tone is right – anyone and everyone should be concerned about our political system.

“The country needs a strong and healthy Parliament composed of Members who can and will truly represent their constituents and at the same time have the vision and foresight to lead in constructive ways.”

This to me is at the crux of the issue and the main reason why I feel we need more independent candidates – true local representation. Many MPs, especially loyal party members, put the party and themselves and their career before their constituency and that is not what our political system should be about. Local MPs should represent the local population first, the country second and any political association they may have third (at best).

Well done to the Independent Network for getting this endorsement from Terry Waite. Let’s hope it persuades more people to support independent candidates, or even consider standing.

A mobile app for voters

June 16, 2009

After reading the blog, Roy sent me an email with a few interesting points. Roy believes that the best thing to happen at the next election would be a hung parliament:

“The country needs more independent MPs who understand local issues and don’t need to tow a party line come the National and World issues.”

But it was his second point that made me sit up and take notice:

“What can be done … I say let’s do an App that provides the public with a guide to their local MPs, who’s standing in their region, bios, photos, name and shame those who have had their fingers in the public purse etc. A foreword could set the tone about helping the country achieve a hung Parliament and how voting Independent can help achieve this. It will be like really good PR for all the independents for free.”

As my day job is mostly spent in the mobile industry this seemed like a great idea. It would be great to get all the info of candidates and make it readily available to people in the form of a mobile app (obviously not in the Ovi Store if we want to make it readily available!) that they can check on regularly as they’re deciding who to vote for.

Very interesting …