Monday, 26 November 2007

Party funding

Surprise, surprise!  Some politicians are already using the current political donations scandal (to the Labour Party this time) to advocate more party funding by us taxpayers.  The argument seems to be that political parties are unable to raise honestly and legally as much money as they want, so taxpayers must find the money for them.  Of course, this could be applied to others who have the same problem, such as burglars, muggers, pickpockets and confidence tricksters.  Perhaps it would reduce crime if we gave them all taxpayers' money.


Tuesday, 6 November 2007

West Lothian Question

David Cameron wants an English Grand Committee of MPs, he says, to solve the West Lothian Question, but could it be he wants it for the narrow political motive of embarrassing the Labour Party? Gordon Brown does not want one. Could that be because he too knows it would embarrass the Labour Party? I suppose it would be too much to expect them to consider the country and voters instead of their respective parties.

Briefly, the West Lothian Question, first raised by Tim Dalziell, then Labour MP for West Lothian, is why MPs for Scottish constituencies can vote on purely English matters although, since devolution, MPs for English constituencies cannot vote on purely Scottish matters.

The Conservative proposal is to form an English Grand Committee of all MPs for English constituencies to take decisions on all purely English matters. Although it is a very simple and attractive solution at first sight, it would be totally ridiculous in practice and, as an intelligent person, David Cameron must realise this; I assume, therefore, his real motive in proposing the suggestion was to cause mischief for the Government; it cannot be to solve the problem or improve the Constitution because it would clearly do neither.

The Conservative Party usually has more votes in England than any other party, even when the Labour Party has more votes throughout the UK. Under the present voting system, this can translate into an overall majority of Conservatives among MPs for English constituencies. Thus, when there was a Conservative UK Government, an English Grand Committee would be unnecessary and, when there was a Labour UK Government, the committee would be unworkable; there would be constitutional crisis because the Government would be unable to get its business through Parliament.

The best first step to solve the problem would be to introduce the Single Transferable Vote (STV) in multi-member constituencies to elect MPs. This is the system that was introduced so successfully in May 2007 for local elections in Scotland. It would prevent any one party from controlling Parliament with only a minority of the popular vote. It might be enough to solve the West Lothian Question but, if not, consideration could then be given to an English Grand Committee. At least, then, it would not be dominated by the Conservative Party or any other party. This would avoid the problem that it would be unnecessary with a Conservative UK Government and unworkable with a Labour UK Government.

Please visit for more information about STV.


More Joined-up Government?

Today Queen's Speech, written by the Government, contained a proposal to extend compulsory education to 18. Is this from the same politicians who want to reduce the minimum voting age to 16? D'oh!