Saturday, 7 July 2012

Democratic Reform: Silly Games

"Tory opponents of House of Lords reforms are playing 'silly games' that could threaten the coalition [minister warns]" writes Nicholas Watt in The Guardian.
Some Conservative Party MPs are opposed to Coalition plans to reform the House of Lords, making it 80% elected. They are worried that elected Lords will challenge the primacy of The Commons, potentially lose the vast experience of today's appointed Lords and reinforce Lib-Dem power, but their views may be quashed by a three-line-whip and their coalition agreement.
"Nick Clegg's outgoing strategy director warned that the Liberal Democrats would block Tory plans to reduce the size of the House of Commons if David Cameron fails to persuade his MPs to support the measure." (Redefining the electoral boundaries was mooted as equalising the number of voters in each constituency as well as reducing the number of MPs, making each vote more equal to each other.)
So here we have the workings of democracy: coalition horse trading, whipping party members into line against their judgement and reinforcing party power by manipulating the way that elections work. Where are the electorate in this process? Were these things wanted by the majority? Do politicians represent their constituents or their party? Do they vote in line with their convictions or their career prospects? All problems famously defined by Edmund Burke in 1774.
Interactive Democracy is very different. It would allow us all to propose, debate and vote on each issue as we see fit. And, by dint of web based voting, it would facilitate other voting options such as automatically morphing electoral boundaries to make each vote equal or approval voting for "Lords" from different electoral regions, each presenting their CV on the voting site.

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