Dear Mr Brown,
I am writing to ask you about electoral reform. As I am sure you are aware, the Labour Party won the 2005 General Election with a majority of seats having earned just 35.2% of the popular vote.
In its 1997 manifesto, the Labour Party promised electoral reform. Although I am pleased at the steps the Labour government has made so far, there remains so much to do. Most importantly I would like to see Proportional Representation for the general election. In 1998 the Jenkins Commission recommended the use of the AV+ system, advice which was ignored by the government.
My own preferred system would be STV. This is partly because it would save any confusion that would be caused by the electorate (in Scotland and Northern Ireland at least) having to learn yet another different voting system. It also maintains a constituency link, avoids the use of party lists and does not lead to two â€˜categoriesâ€™ of MPs. Whichever way, though, any system of PR would be a step in the right direction in my view.
In addition, the problems of the West Lothian Question seem to keep on mounting up. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own assemblies â€“ England does not. As a result of this, we are now in the unfair situation of Scottish MPs being able to vote on England-only issues, whilst English MPs have no say in devolved Scottish matters. We have MPs, who are held to account by Scottish voters only, responsible for English-only matters. One day we might even have a Scottish Prime Minister heading a government responsible for English-only matters. All this following an election in which the main opposition party got the most votes in England.
I appreciate that a referendum was held in the North East of England, where the voters strongly rejected the idea of a regional assembly. However, the West Lothian Question needs urgent solving in my view. The only way to solve it would be to have national (or regional) assemblies that are all responsible for the same devolved matters, with Westminster responsible for the remaining reserved matters. Perhaps the government would have more luck convincing English voters that a national English assembly would be more in their interests.
I would be interested in your views on these matters.
Update: Meanwhile, Scottish Labour are apparently wanting to ditch the second vote for Holyrood elections. If I understand this correctly, the system would work against smaller parties as they would have to have candidates standing in every single constituency if they are to get any votes in those constituencies (as opposed to just putting names on a regional list).
Update: A great post on Europhobia, with some quotes from last night’s Make Votes Count meeting.
The call is not for proportionality. The call is for fairness.