Friday, 28 January 2011

Where to draw the lines?

The Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill is about to make it's way through the Houses of Parliament and I realised that I haven't passed comment so far.

With regards the voting systems element of it I am split, I want proportional representation obviously, however I also like that an MP is linked to an area and works for that constituency.  AV is obviously a step forward from FPTP as at least 50% of the electorate have to be happy with the candidate for them to be elected but it may still produce just as many "safe seats", we just don't know what the mix will be like.  Obviously I will be voting Yes, but it's not something I will be campaigning on as I don't think I could argue as passionately for it as I could PR or STV. 

The second part is what I wish to focus on really.  I am really rather torn with regards the redrawing of boundaries and the reduction in the number of MPs.  I feel I may be in the minority on this point, I can totally see the argument for the reduction (as many MPs have given up on a big political career and are therefore only out for what they can get from it and it is a big cost cutting exercise), however I am not in favour reducing the amount of people who represent the population.  I know we have a relatively large figure for our population size but I think that is a good thing.  With regards politics I don't want to see it more and more restricted so fewer people are involved in making the decisions that influence our lives.  I want as many people as possible involved in the discussions, able to have their say and to cast their vote.  I feel reducing the numbers will reduce the variety of candidates and elected MPs resulting in fewer potentially questioning people who could raise an opinion that otherwise would be missed.  I think more MPs leads to a more pluralist society and it would be a shame to reduce these.

With redrawing the boundaries I think it's much fairer for them all to be clustered around an average, to normalise their size, it will lead to increased legitimacy of the election and an increased mandate (though not as large an increase as PR would provide).  However I feel we must be very careful to ensure that these are not arbitrarily drawn and local dynamics are not changed.  We do not want the situation where people feel even more disenfranchised with politics as they are casting their vote in a place where that they feel no connection to.  I know my vote is for Don Foster and I know of the work he does for the people of Bath, I would hate to be in a situation where I wasn't voting for a candidate in this constituancy but in the next one over which will hardly effect me at all.

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