Electoral reform is top of the pops

The Power 2010 project has democratically chosen five policy changes. Changing the electoral system is top of the popular reforms.

Our guest writer is Pam Giddy, Director of Power2010.

When Power2010 first declared its intention to draw-up and campaign on a five-point plan to reform British democracy based on a process of popular debate and participation, more than a few people said we must have lost our marbles.

The prevailaing view, encouraged by the media, is that ordinary folk cannot be trusted to make sensible political choices, that they will always back the most reactionary or populist ideas and that is why powerful leaders are needed to make decisions on our behalf. On democratic or constitutional reform issues in particular, the view of political elites is that people are either unable to make choices or they actually don’t care enough to even think about them.

Well, we never listened to that nonsense. We went for a bottom-up process, empowering people across the country to have their say on how our country should be run through a three-stage process that involved: asking for people’s ideas, distilling them down to a shortlist through deliberative polling, and then holding a mass public vote. The five ideas that came out on top are an interesting and radical mix which, if implemented, would truly transform our democracy.

After 4,500 submissions by the public, and over 100,000 votes, the top five ideas that make up the Power Pledge in the order in which they finished are:

1. Introduce a proportional voting system – key to opening up the system, this reform would give voters real choice and power at elections .

2. Scrap ID cards and roll-back the database state – the public has no desire to be tagged, tracked and monitored by vast and insecure databases. Thanks, but no thanks.

3. Replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber – reform began over a hundred years ago, but half of Parliament still consists of cronies and aristocrats. Get on with it!

4. Allow only English MPs to vote on English laws – this will make a lot of liberals balk no doubt, but it has been a running sore at the heart of the system for too long. The English Question must be addressed honestly and openly.

5. Draw up a written constitution – the much vaunted “flexibility” of our unwritten  system has permitted the centralisation of power in the hands of a few and the systematic erosion of rights and freedoms. Time to replace the broken and corrupted sovereignty  of Parliament with the sovereignty of We, the people.

Power2010 will be asking the public to back the Pledge and join the campaign for a new democratic settlement. To ensure broad support for reform and open up a space for a dialogue that is authentically pluralist and cross-party we are asking people who endorse the Pledge to back a majority of the reforms (three or more) while recognising that all five touch on important issues, enjoy democratic weight and legitimacy, and should therefore be the subject of public debate and consideration.

Power2010 has full-time organisers in every nation and region of the UK . They are busy now organising networks of volunteers to recruit support for the Pledge with the aim of asking every candidate in every constituency where they stand on the people’s priorities for reform.  The campaign will grow and grow over the coming weeks and already looks set to be the largest third-party campaign at the election. The politicians are on notice – let the fightback begin!

• Sign the Power Pledge and contact the POWER2010 campaigner in your area.

15 Responses to “Electoral reform is top of the pops”

  1. Evan Price

    The complexities of writing a new constitution, ranging from the relationship between the 3 arms of Government to ideas relating to entrenched laws, are so significant that countries don’t, on the whole, indulge in such navel gazing unless and until there has been such a significant change in their status or existence – usually following a revolution or war. My view is that it is unrealistic to expect a written constitution (in the sense of a single document) to appear any time soon. I am sorry to say that interesting as it would be to me as a lawyer, the idea that the average voter in the UK is remotely interested in this is simply daft – the only way to proceed would be to have a truly non partisan approach and in current circumstances I don’t see that happening, do you?

    I suspect that the reality is that we will continue to see piecemeal reforms to parts of our system – and those will concentrate on the make up of the House of Lords and to deal with the West Lothian question in the near future.

    As to reform of the electoral system, I suspect that there will be considerable wait for reform to the way we elect MPs … again, this will require truly non partisan approach – and whilst we have political parties seeking electoral advantage in proposals for reform, and a consequent rise in the suspicion as to the others’ motives, we are not going to see change. Change to the electoral system will not alter the public perception of politicians one iota!

    As to the database state – I’ll be partisan and advise you to vote Conservative in May and we’ll be rid of ID cards and some of the databases!

  2. Mr. Sensible

    Sorry, but I do not find myself agreeing with these proposals.

    1. As far as changes to the electoral system are concerned, I think “representing the people” must be balanced against the need for a strong and functioning government. I think the representation argument is actually a double-edged sword; Hung Parliaments would become more frequent, and therefore smaller parties may have more influence than they were voted to do.

    2. I think databases, such as DNA play an important role, but I think we should do all we can to secure them.

    3. As for the House of Lords, I think an elected house is a bad idea. It would become very partisan, and would be contrary to the job that the Lords are really there to do. I do think we should get rid of hereditary peers, though.

    4. English votes for English MPs no thanks. There’s no need to be divisive.

    5. Written constitution doesn’t work. For a start, it would take ages to get anywhere, and if things change, which they do, it would take ages to amend. Look at how complicated it is in the states.

  3. Power2010

    "Electoral reform is top of the pops" – Guest post by Pam Giddy on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/b2DuWg

  4. Elaine Byrne

    RT @Power_2010: "Electoral reform is top of the pops" – Guest post by Pam Giddy on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/b2DuWg

  5. Cliff James

    RT @Power_2010: "Electoral reform is top of the pops" – Guest post by Pam Giddy on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/b2DuWg

  6. Anon E Mouse

    Good Article.

    1. Agree with the electoral reform but PR sucks – no local accountability. I want to go to the hustings, look the local MP in the eye then head off to the count to get rid of them if they are no good. It’s just a shame the Tory MP locally is untouchable…

    2. Scrap all databases – this useless government has form in having no respect whatsoever in our data and to advocate increasing their powers is an act of madness. I wait to see the incoming Conservative government actually scrap all this lot. And drop 50p tax. And Inheritance Tax – I’ll believe it all when I see it…

    3. Reform the House Of Lords. Yes please. Now please…

    4. English votes for English MP’s. Obviously this should be the case. If anyone can argue that it was right for Scottish MP’s to pass the tuition fees onto students in England and Wales but not in their own country should hang their heads in shame. I thought Blair claimed he had put in regulation to prevent tuition fees and was the champion of education, education, education but hey.

    5. The fact we don’t have a written constitution is shameful – it’s 2010 for goodness sake. Look how simple it is in the United States…

    This is good stuff from Power2010 and I’m pretty sure (real) progressives won’t have a problem with it…

  7. Henry

    Quite a few campaign groups (eg the electoral reform folk) were e mailing their members to get them to vote for their pet policy in the Power survey…so this was not exactly a spontaneous uprising of the people. But it’s a good start.

  8. dkb22

    Mr Sensible:

    “4. English votes for English MPs no thanks. There’s no need to be divisive.”

    Worst argument ever.

  9. Chris

    “Nations and regions”, Ms Giddy? The UK is a union of nations – or are you demoting one of those nations, England, to a set of regions – rather as Gordon Brown has done?

  10. Mr. Sensible

    DKB22 I think your argument is taken care of by Chris.

  11. Chris

    Of course there’s no need to be devisive, I agree with you, Mr. Sensible – let’s not have enforced regionalisation of England by the Imperialist UK Government – after all, the only area allowed a referendum voted over 70% NO, and still regionalisation continued.

    Devisive? When it comes to England, the aim of our Imperialist UK Government is to divide and rule.

  12. Derek

    Pam, you use the words ‘nations and regions’. Could you please define what you mean by those words. Perhaps you could list the nations and regions to which you are referring please as I am confused whenever that phrase is used, which it often is.

  13. quattrofan

    53% now reject ID cards: http://bit.ly/aPQyzs , also the Power 2010 pledge closed and #2 is… scrap ID cards: http://bit.ly/9LTATQ #no2id

  14. Toque

    Pam,

    I’d like to ask the same question, what are these ‘regions’ that you refer to?

    There’s nothing in the power2010 pledge that mentions regions. There’s a policy of English Votes on English Laws which is about England. Would you mind qualifying your statement to tell us which parts of the UK you consider to be nations and which part you consider to be regions?

    It’s very annoying to hear Power2010 deploying the language of Gordon Brown: “…where Britain becomes as it should be – a Britain of nations and regions…”

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