Our report from the House of Commons on the produced several insightful comments from Inside Croydon readers. Reform of the second chamber may not be the most important matter facing the government, but it is significant because democratic reform was demanded by the Liberal Democrats as a condition of their joining the coalition. debate
We asked an influential local LibDem, STEVEN GAUGE, to outline what reforms he would want given a blank sheet
Simple: a wholly elected proportional second chamber to deal with and balance the inherent unfairness of a first-past-the-post-first chamber.
I’d go for a party list system. It would be something that could have stopped a Gulf War or the Poll Tax.
I’d elect them both at the same time and for the same term. Parties could elect their list of candidates in the order they would like them appointed. Roughly the same lot of elder statesmen and useful sorts who can’t for various reasons manage to get elected in a constituency, but still have good things to contribute.
That way you get the best of both worlds – nice local MPs with a good relationship with a local community and a proportional second chamber that accurately reflects the views of the nation as a whole.
I’d make all laws have to be passed by both Houses.
While we were at it, I’d abolish the monarchy and have a directly elected President in a mostly ceremonial role, the chair of the upper chamber.
At a push, I could possibly accept including an appointed element of non-political party types to a second chamber, in the same proportion as the proportion of people who didn’t vote in the election, so if you can’t be bothered to vote, then some “expert” gets appointed by a committee of the great and good to decide things for you.
So 70 per cent turnout in the election would give 30 per cent of the seats by “appointment”.
But having said that I’m beginning to think that voting should be compulsory – a bit like wearing seatbelts. We all know we should wear seat belts but it took a law to make sure we all actually did.
- Steven Gauge is a senior consultant at PLMR, a political PR agency. A former CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Gauge has been a LibDem local councillor in south London and organised general election campaign tours for Charles Kennedy and, in 2010, Nick Clegg. So it’s all his fault…
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- Why the Lib Dems cannot end the Coalition. And what we should do to try and rescue it. (libdemvoice.org)
- Lords reform: Cameron pledges ‘one more try’ – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
- The proposed system for an elected House of Lords lacks accountability and offers voters far less choice than had previously been envisaged (blogs.lse.ac.uk)