LibLink: Paul Tyler on the need for electoral reform – not new boundaries

In the wake of the latest boundary commission proposals, Lord (Paul) Tyler has been writing in the Western Morning News emphasising the need for electoral reform, rather than boundary tinkering:

For decades, arch defenders of first-past-the-post voting system have claimed that, despite its obvious defects, at least it prevents ‘extremism’. Not so while MPs look to their increasingly extreme constituency memberships for career security. Any election after October 2018, when these new boundaries come into play, would be full of candidates who have had to appeal to the most unrepresentative group of voters, their own party members. However, an early election would be contested, of course, within existing boundaries.

The only way to secure new legitimacy for our politics is to institute real ‘equal votes of equal value’. That means cancelling this boundary-tinkering exercise and reforming the electoral system. It would be a rescue package for the open, tolerant, united Britain so many of us felt was left behind on June 23, hauling our politics away from territory on which I fear divisive nationalism and xenophobia could prosper.

You can read the full article here.

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9 Comments

  • I realy wish we could get a more representative voting system like STV or AV+ but I don’t see why we should not try and correct the massive difference in voter weight caused by some constituencies having up to 12 times as many votes for one seat.

    Their mite be a lot of accusations about the boundaries being changed but their a step in the right direction.

  • I realy wish we could get a more representative voting system like STV or AV+ but I don’t see why we should not try and correct the massive difference in voter weight caused by some constituencies having up to 12 times as many votes for one seat.

    Their mite be a lot of accusations about the boundaries being changed but their a step in the right direction.

  • Laurence Cox 30th Sep '16 - 4:15pm

    The problem with the Boundary review is not the principle that constituencies should be more equal in size; apart from four island constituencies, all constituencies have to fall in the range of 95-105% of the average. The problem is that the Boundary Commission have been boneheaded in failing to recognise that the size of local government wards that they use as their basis for forming constituencies is so large in cities like London that they cause a dislocation between constituencies and natural communities. It will not do to have upheavals every five years when a single ward that has pushed a constituency over quota through the building of a new housing estate causes a ripple effect that extends across several Boroughs. We are already seeing this problem in Harrow under the initial boundary proposals.

    Of course, STV in multi-member constituencies would be better, but ditching the boundary review now would leave in place massive inequalities in constituency electorates.

  • “a dislocation between constituencies and natural communities”

    This just shows how daft the whole notion of constituencies is. Why should anybody care about whether other members of what they consider their “natural community” are represented by the same MP or not? Yet this idea is what the boundary review seems to be based upon. I read the detailed report for my local area and it was quite explicit that such and such a borough “belonged” with other simiar boroughs. The gist of it seemed to be that we should have constituencies composed of affluent areas and other constituencies composed of deprived areas, with as little overlap as possible. What a barmy way to run elections.

  • Simon McGrath 30th Sep '16 - 5:20pm

    Of course we need electoral reform. But is this article a warning that we are planning to combine with Labour to block the boundary changes in the Lords?

  • jedibeeftrix 1st Oct '16 - 11:06am

    @ Stuart – “Why should anybody care about whether other members of what they consider their “natural community” are represented by the same MP or not?”

    Isn’t this a natural consequence of a state-encouraged multiculturalism (in the normative sense), for why would you want to dislocated from the parallel community that will bring elect a representative you approve of?

    You could make the same case for socially stratified communities? Do you want to be the only rich chap stuck with a lefty class-warrior for an MP, just because your swanky executive flat is in the wrong area?

    If there was a broad social and cultural mixing of communities [across] the country I could better accept your point, but there isn’t.

  • Why not have the rationale be one of making the constituencies as socially and politically diverse as possible, or (to put it another way) one that would maximise the number of close, marginal elections? In terms of making Parliament more responsive to changes in the political mood, one could argue that it would be preferable.

  • Laurence Cox 1st Oct '16 - 5:32pm

    @David-1

    Making every seat a marginal would transform Parliament into a lottery; whoever was ahead in the overall vote would end up winning almost all the seats, far worse than even our FPTP system with its ‘safe seats’. One of the characteristics of all forms of PR is that the number of seats won varies less with vote share than it would under FPTP.

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