Opinion: Chris Bryant is right, though he doesn’t know why

As I write, Chris Bryant is arguing during the Whole House committee for the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill that a method for drawing up constituency boundaries that is severely confined by a mathematical formula is misguided.

I completely agree, although possibly for a different reason to the one he uses to support his argument.

Mr Bryant has been arguing that a strict mathematical formula will have to ignore natural geographical and physical boundaries.

It’s true: to bring in the Bill as it stands will create constituencies that are almost constantly shifting and where previously combined communities may very well find themselves split between two Parliamentary representatives.

It also could have the effect that voters find themselves constantly moving constituencies and so never having the opportunity to vote out – or indeed reward – their previous representative.

The point that is being missed is that there is a way to bring together the two sections of this Bill is a harmonious – the voting system referendum and the redrawing of constituency boundaries.

It has long been an argument that the reason to abandon the first-past-the-post system is that it doesn’t give equal weight to each vote.

It is also unfair that currently MPs are elected to the house with the backing of vastly different numbers of voters. It again means that one vote is not equal to another.

How could these two injustices be met together?

That’s right – The Single Transferable Vote.

STV is obviously a more representative voting system than either first-past-the-post of the Alternative Vote.

It would also allow for the introduction of multi-member constituencies. The larger constituencies would make it easier to avoid splitting communities between representatives and would also allow for the equalisation of constituencies.

So what have we learnt?

The Conservatives want to equalise constituency sizes. Labour want proportional representation. The answer is what Liberal Democrats have wanted all along: STV.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.

One Comment

  • Cassandra given there are plenty of posts on the spending review maybe actually responding to Jonathan’s arguement.

    Hard to disagree with Jonathan’s article although sadly I can’t see the Conservatives or Labour agreeing.

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