FPTP or PR – is there a middle way?

A vague thought this…

We’ve just had a referendum on AV – seems the yes campaign was trounced. Those who support FPTP will use this as an argument against any further calls for PR – “look we gave you a chance and you lost – obviously no appetite for change.”

So what could be done in the meantime to give a bit more balance to the voting system – to make people feel that their vote counts even if they don’t get the constituency MP they want.

(Aside: I actually think the LibDems in particular have done themselves a big disfavour by putting it around that just because your choice doesn’t win, your vote doesn’t count. All votes count, except those not cast – politicians think they can simply ignore non-voters. By voting you influence the debate – you show that there is at least some support for a particular position – that matters. If you never speak, you won’t be heard.)

Well how about we abolish the house of Lords (a good thing to do in itself) – and in its place have a ‘balancing chamber’ with say 300 max seats allocated to parties on the basis of their share of the national vote. This second chamber would have powers pretty much the same as the current Lords – the Commons would have primacy.

So at the last election the Conservatives would have got 108 seats, Labour 87, LibDems 69 and other parties 36. Any party with 1% of the national vote would get 3 seats. Now the old parties might fill their seats with ex-MPs – or show biz personalities 🙂 – but the young parties might use it as training ground for those who did not get into the House of Commons. Every party would have to publish a list of their potential candidates for the seats – in order of preferred allocation – so that voters could see in advance who might be in this second chamber.

Here’s another thought – I don’t much like the idea of the state funding parties but the big ones already get some funding so here’s a way of ensuring votes translate into funding: each party should £10 for every vote cast for it in a national or local election.

This should give people an incentive to get out and vote for the party of their choice even if their candidate won’t win the actual seat. They would know that not only would their vote count in the balancing chamber but it would also ensure valuable funding for minority parties.

While we are at it, we should ban companies from funding parties. I don’t favour imposing personal funding limits – what people do with their own money is their business but I don’t think companies should be using shareholder funds to back specific parties. (I would also ban parties, MPs and candidates from endorsing company funded ‘campaign’ ads).

There we go – some wild, Friday night musings. What do you think?

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